Guitar Hero and Godless Ghouls: Revisiting the Formatively Emo Twilight SoundtrackEntertainmentEntertainment
Like many high school students with a superiority complex, I thought I was too cool for Twilight when it first emerged as a new, exciting pop cultural force for brooding teens. Though firmly in the “Y” demographic that makes up YA literature’s readership, something about horny vampires unrelated to the poetry of my beloved mall goth icons My Chemical Romance felt derivative and unnecessary. Also, at that time, I had fully internalized all the misogyny that ran rampant on emo records (MCR, surprisingly, was a welcome respite from some of their contemporaries) and nothing struck me as more “fem” than getting horned up on a pale Robert Pattinson. That disdain did not extend to the film’s soundtrack, however—a gloriously stacked radio rawk opus that was equal parts Warped Tour (with the inclusion of Paramore) and stadium rock ‘n’ roll, delivered by Muse and Linkin Park. Music Director Alexandra Patsavas, then known for her work on Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C., knew what she was doing, and I was completely on board. In 2008, I had it on repeat.
As much as the film franchise gave alt kids an image to obsess over, its soundtrack provided sounds to identify with. I haven’t listened to it since its release 12 years ago, but I remember it ruling, so I revisited it to see if it holds up.
1. Muse, “Supermassive Black Hole”
I have two immediate thoughts. One: I have no idea what Muse sounds like. Two: Surely it isn’t this? “Supermassive Black Hole” is really restrained for a song named after an unknowable void—a quick look at the lyrics reveals it is also about hating a woman, which leads me question why it was included in the film. Did someone have a thing for sloppy falsettos and songs that sound like they were constructed solely to make an appearance in the Guitar Hero franchise? Or do all the horny vampires hate each other and this works perfectly in the narrative? This is grandiose in name only.
2. Paramore, “Decode”
“Decode” is a certifiable banger. In 2008, I thought frontwoman Hayley Williams’s mournful “What you think that I can’t see / What kind of man that you are / If you’re a man at all” delivery was the most damning thing you could say to a dude, but now I realize it might literally be about vampires. “Like, hey dude, are you a vampire? Or a guy? Let me know, k thanks, bye.” “Decode” is sort of like Paramore writing an Evanescence song, which is great, but also makes me wonder why Evanescence isn’t included in this soundtrack.
3. The Black Ghosts, “Full Moon”
This band didn’t do much after appearing on the Twilight soundtrack, I assume because “The Black Ghosts” sounds like it was named using an online band name generator. There’s some violin on this song, which is nice, because violin is the most vampiric instrument. It also sounds a bit like Bear in Heaven, or some equally Brooklyn-based blog-fodder indie rock band of the ‘00s, and by that I mean perfectly pleasant but ultimately forgettable.
4. Linkin Park, “Leave Out All the Rest”
I’m pretty sure Linkin Park owes Massive Attack some royalty money because there’s no way the intro doesn’t sample “Teardrop,” a song I assume most people know because of its placement as the theme to House. At any rate, “Leave Out All the Rest” is fine. It sounds like riding in the backseat of mom’s minivan in the suburbs, iPod blaring.
5. MUTEMATH, “Spotlight”
Is there a lot of running in the movie Twilight? This bluesy-rock song sounds like something a troubled teen would run to (or away from, depending on who you ask.)
6. Perry Farrell, “Go All the Way (Into the Twilight)”
When they build a museum dedicated to the 2000s, they will include “Go All the Way (Into the Twilight)” performed by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. The spoken-word interlude, delivered over weird pseudo-disco heavy rock, is painfully of its time, but that doesn’t mean it’s so damn silly my ironic appreciation for it has become kind of sincere?
7. Collective Soul, “Tremble for My Beloved”
“Tremble for My Beloved” was originally released in 1999—long before the collective desire for vampires set in, unless of course you’re talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer—and that’s good, because it means Collective Soul wasn’t tasked with writing an original for the Hot Topic teen flick. At any rate, it’s a grungy banger, and I approve.
8. Paramore, “I Caught Myself”
Paramore is the only artist to get two tracks on this soundtrack, and I like to believe that is because Williams actually read the book. (It’s much more likely that they just made the most sense for the Twilight demographic, but I digress.) Unlike “Decode,” “I Caught Myself” is more in line with classic pop-punky Paramore, though the math-rock riffs and extended intro are a bit unexpected. It, too, sounds like being 13, which I assume is not painful for some people. I am not one of them.
9. Blue Foundation, “Eyes On Fire”
Have you ever listened to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and wished they were depressed and Danish? That’s kind of what “Eyes On Fire” is, or maybe not at all, but I’m not mad.
10. Rob Pattinson, “Never Think”
The vampire does a decent John Mayer impression, though it would benefit from the removal of the marbles in his mouth.
11. Iron & Wine, “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”
Objectively, Iron & Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” is the best song on this album… though it feels a bit chaotic, considering this acoustic ballad arrives only a few songs after a Linkin Park concept record about being lost in space, or something. What is going on?
12. Carter Burwell, “Bella’s Lullaby”
This is a gorgeous piano ballad I don’t feel equipped to criticize, only to add that it’s nice and pleasant and definitely makes me feel sleepy, which I assume is its intended purpose. Please don’t listen to it while driving.
In conclusion, this soundtrack is fine. I probably won’t listen to it again until some nostalgic artist samples one of these tracks in another decade, reminding me of its existence. Honestly, you’re better off just listening to Paramore.