Review Summary: A mandatory component to the movie for those who loved it…a worthwhile listen even for those who didn’t.
Creating a quality movie soundtrack is no straightforward task. A great deal of thought must go not only into choosing songs that sound good, but also into finding particular songs that fit the moment
. This frequently results in quite the conundrum, and the album’s creator must ask: "What is the goal of this soundtrack?" This of course can vary, from the Green Day/Nickelback plagued Transformers 2
to the epic and entirely instrumental soundscape from 300
. There are inherent issues with both types, as one simply draws from popular chart tunes and the other fails to hold its own as an experience separate from the movie. It is rare that a soundtrack succeeds at capturing each moment from the film while simultaneously providing something worthwhile as a separate work. The soundtrack to 500 Days of Summer
not only accomplishes this, but also manages to capture the height of every emotional turn in the film, thus evoking the same thoughts and feelings experienced during the movie.
Regardless of whether or not you enjoyed 500 Days of Summer
, the soundtrack has a lot to offer fans of almost any genre. It features very talented and respected artists such as Simon and Garfunkle, Hall & Oates and The Smiths. Wolfmother’s “Vagabond” provides a harder edge for those interested in modern rock, with its infectious stomp-like drum beat and the eventual breakdown featuring distorted guitars and Stockdale’s distressed wails. The Smiths are probably the most heavily featured, with “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” and “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want.” This is no accident, as The Smith’s downtrodden, tragically desperate sound matches the tone of 500 Days of Summer
with a striking resemblance. There are also numerous allusions to the band within the actual script of the movie, as The Smiths are a shared passion between the two love interests of the film.
Less exposed artists such as The Temper Trap, Black Lips, Doves, Mumm-Ra, and She & Him (featuring Zooey Deschanel herself) are also given a fighting chance to stand out on here. The most notable of the five may be The Temper Trap, whose song “Sweet Disposition” comes in at an ideal time: a silent movie scene showing the main characters traveling through the dense city landscape. The busy yet peaceful nature of the song compliments the idea of a constantly moving metropolis that somehow, someway, manages to function as a cohesive whole. If the song’s presence on this soundtrack doesn’t bring more fame to the band, it at least brings an element of tranquil urgency to 500 Days of Summer
For that matter, each of the artists’ songs works perfectly within the scene that they were selected for. “You Make My Dreams” is a breath of fresh air with its bouncy, up-tempo sound; and its insertion into the scene right after the main character, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), gets laid by Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is all too fitting. It is also accompanied by a well-executed dance routine that is really cool (no matter how bad that may sound if you haven’t seen the movie). “There Goes the Fear” carries a certain light-heartedness to it that is comparable to the simple pleasures found in the commencement of a new relationship, and that is exactly how it is used in the plot of the movie. Without exception, each of the 16 songs on this collection have a specific purpose, and each one contributes something slightly different to the overall mood set by the movie. Regardless of how big or small the band/singer is, the soundtrack finds a way to incorporate them into meaningful scenes.
However, the artist who may end up garnering the most attention from 500 Days of Summer
is Regina Spektor. The uplifting and oddly comforting “Us” opens the curtains on the production while the more haunting and somewhat-epic song “Hero” is featured during the emotional pinnacle of the movie. Her vocal performance is impeccable, and these scenes in the movie would most likely have a much less chilling/climactic effect had they been sung by anyone else. Her place in this soundtrack is well-deserved, and it shows with her contributions that enhance the movie every bit as much as they do this collection of songs.
Clearly, the music has a major impact on 500 Days of Summer
. However, what makes this particular collection of songs so special is that they actually transcend the realm of the film and function like a well-composed album. It has crystal clear production, excellent flow, and stunning emotional heights. Sure, it may carry more
meaning to those who thought highly of the film, but it doesn’t need
the film. Someone who never heard of 500 Days of Summer
could pick up this record and be thoroughly intrigued and engaged by its atmosphere from start to finish. Loved the movie? Hated the movie? Never even seen it? It doesn’t matter. There are few soundtracks out there that can be enjoyed on so many levels, and 500 Days of Summer
is definitely one of them.