Fans looking to update their playlists with a new set of jangly British Invasion ditties brought (back) to light by filmmaker/auteur Wes Anderson will likely be disappointed with the soundtrack for his newest effort, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is streamable online as of today and is largely instrumental and sans pop-rock gems.
While that's going to delight some (musician Will Oldham once memorably referred to Anderson as "the cancer that is that Darjeeling guy" who approaches soundtracks as: "Here's my iPod on shuffle, and here's my movie"), many music fans will likely feel slighted. With that in mind, it's worth revisiting Anderson's previous efforts to pull up some soundtrack choices you might've missed the first time around; Nico and the Kinks and the Rolling Stones need not apply.
Paul Desmond, "Take Ten" (Rushmore) While most listeners' ears are likely piqued by the Vince Guaraldi Christmas song used late in the film, this breezy, jazzy instrumental from the Dave Brubeck Quartet's saxophonist seems to have a better life outside of the film, making lovely driving or dining music to be sure. It also encapsulates the best attributes of a Wes Anderson soundtrack choice -- familiar enough, but likely something not already on your shelf.
The Ramones, "Judy Is a Punk" (The Royal Tenenbaums) Everyone goes gaga for that scene where Max Fischer, sticking gum on the wall, walks out of the service elevator while "A Quick One, While He's Away" blasts over everything. But for me, the Ramones/Margot montage is the superior one. Not only are the Ramones a better band than the Who (clearly!), this track infuses the scene with more energy than anything Pete Townsend might be capable of. It's popular in its own right, of course, but compared to some of the other tracks that came from that record ("Blitzkrieg Bop," "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,"), it's relatively unknown.
Sigur Rós, "Starálfur" (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) Taken from Ágætis byrjun, one of those records that seemed ubiquitous on soundtracks and commercials following its release, this track manages to dramatize the discovery of the Jaguar Shark in a way that never feels cheap or saccharine. Since Anderson tends to err on the twee side of things, the song buoys that scene (excuse the pun) in an otherwise underwhelming film.
New Order, "Ceremony" (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) Okay, so this one is cheating just a little bit. "Ceremony" doesn't actually appear in the film, but it does figure pretty prominently in the trailer. It's a great addition not only because it's one of New Order's best songs (the fact that Ian Curtis wrote it might explain that), but it represents a genre relatively underutilized in Anderson's films.
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Hank Williams, "Ramblin' Man" (Moonrise Kingdom) Overlooked insofar as no one actually bothered to pick up the Moonrise Kingdom soundtrack like they did Tenenbaums or Rushmore. It's one of Williams' darkest songs, full of country-music-defining lyrics and a weeping steel guitar accompaniment. Though Williams is always enormously popular, this should've opened him up to a new audience in the way that Nico's "These Days" did for her.