With the end of The Twilight Saga comes the subsequent end of so much more than just the films (including the gratuitous, albeit increasingly creative methods to make Taylor Lautner take his shirt off). But it's the end of the Twilight soundtracks, those multi-platinum albums loved and respected by Twihards and Twihardlys alike, that may leave the biggest void. On Tuesday, November 13 the soundtrack for Breaking Dawn — Part 2 was released, featuring an eclectic array of artists like Green Day, St. Vincent, Passion Pit, Feist, and Twilight's own Nikki Reed.
It's that very M.O. — combining an unlikely group of bands and musicians, both from the Twilight world and beyond — and creating an unexpected, yet pitch-perfect compilation soundtracks that pleases fans of the series and fans of just plain great music.
The first Twilight soundtrack, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 back in November of 2008, and spent an astonishing 224 weeks on the charts and moved more than 3.5 million copies worldwide. In addition to commercial success, the album was loved by critics (Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-) and even earned Grammy nominations.
Since then, the four soundtracks to follow: New Moon, Eclipse, and both Breaking Dawns, have all followed suit and been chart-topping, must-have records. Many of the artists featured on the Twilight soundtracks were bona fide hit-makers and music superstars long before they contributed their exclusive tracks to the albums (including Muse, Linkin Park, Florence and the Machine, Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Cee Lo Green, The Killers, Bruno Mars, and The Black Keys), just as many up-and-coming indie artists were given a major platform to share their music with the masses.
So what's it like being part of the pop culture phenomenon and becoming a "Twilight band" alongside the likes of Muse and Death Cab For Cutie? Hollywood.com caught up with two of the bands featured on the Twilight soundtracks, how they got involved, the impact it has made on their careers, and the reception they're received since.
Melissa Dougherty, the lead guitarist of rock band Eastern Conference Champions, whose original song "A Million Miles An Hour" was featured on the Eclipse soundtrack, put it simply: "Being on the soundtrack definitely opened up a lot of doors for our band ... We saw it as a great opportunity to grow the band on a global level." While the band had already gained notoriety for appearing on shows like Friday Night Lights and Gossip Girl, the bass-heavy "A Million Miles An Hour" track clicked with the Twilight fan base. "The Twihards are a very loyal and supportive community, and they definitely embraced our band wholeheartedly, which we truly appreciate," Dougherty says
It probably didn't hurt that ECC's song started the first moment Lautner's Jacob appeared on screen in Eclipse. Dougherty recalled, "We didn’t know which scene the song was for ... We went to the premiere and heard the bass line start, but the audience went crazy screaming for Taylor Lautner, so we kind of missed hearing it." Of course, as much as a thrill the song provided for fans ("People always want to hear that tune as well, and it’s become a fun one to play," she says), being welcomed aboard the Twilight soundtrack lineage was just as much a thrill for the band back when they submitted their music for consideration.
"We’re very proud to have had our song picked out of 400 other artists. It’s a big honor and a big opportunity for an unsigned band to get. At the time we, had no label, no manager and no lawyer," Dougherty recalls, adding, "It was definitely one for the underdogs."
Like ECC, the eclectic Southern indie rock outfit The Features were approached to submit a song through their publishing company. If it hadn't been for the Breaking Dawn - Part 1 soundtrack, their track "From Now On" may have never heard the light of day. Singer/guitarist Matt Pelham recalls, "We were, at that time, in the studio finishing up a record, and had a few songs that were left over from the record. And we figured it couldn't hurt, so we submitted a couple of the songs we had left over. 'From Now On' was one of those, and it wound up on the soundtrack."
"From Now On", one of the more upbeat songs in the Twilight soundtrack catalog, plays during Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella's (Kristen Stewart) honeymoon sequence. While Pelham acknowledges that their appearance on the soundtrack has brought in some younger fans and a spike in YouTube awareness ("At one point the YouTube video that someone had posted had surpassed a million hits, which if you take every other YouTube video we have and combine them, it doesn't even come close to that") he and the band had their initial trepidations about appearing on the soundtrack.
"At first, when they asked, we thought it might be kinda weird," Pelham admits, "We didn't know how we'd fit into that soundtrack." Still, Pelham — who says he admires the "mix tape" approach of albums ("I really enjoy records that kind of move around and surprise you") — and the band were happy with how things turned out in the end. "I'm really glad we were part of it ... The music supervisor did a really good job of placing the music and with the music they chose. It comforted the band to know it wasn't just find the catchiest stuff and stick it in there."
That music supervisor is none other than Alexandra Patsavas, the woman worked on all five of the Twilight soundtracks and also put her magical musical touch on the likes of Grey's Anatomy, Mad Men, The O.C., and more recently, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Pastavas, who says she's "always been interested in independent music," cites the combination of artists like ECC and The Features with "some of the most important alternative and indie rock bands" as "one of the most rewarding and interesting parts of the Twilight saga soundtracks."
In addition to using a variety of bands for the soundtracks, Pastavas, who worked closely with Stephenie Meyer and the various directors throughout the creation of the Twilight soundtracks ("It is a very analog process for this very sophisticated digital era we live in ... It's a collaborative effort in the artistic process,"), also credits the use of original, exclusive music for why these albums struck such a chord. "It was a special thing and something the fans really, really appreciated being able to forever associate the songs and bands with their favorite scenes in the film."
Pastavas, who says she received over 500 submissions for each album, perhaps summed the success of each of the wide-ranging soundtracks best: "Every single one has told a different story." Yet another reason we're sad to close the Twilight chapter.
[Photo credit: Atlantic Records]
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Unlike his parents, blue collar Italians who take pride in their country, their past, and a well-kept haircut, Douglas believes that rock and roll is "art." The central character of Not Fade Away, which premiered at the New York Film Festival, lives and breathes music, a disciple of the unique rhythms of the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. After high school, Douglas pursues a career with his buddies from New Jersey, hoping one day to make it big like his idols. He wants to be a performer. An artist.
As time passes, Douglas' creative pursuits widen, and it becomes clear that the struggling 20-something is a proxy (or at least a variation of), writer/director David Chase. Any Sopranos fan can tell you that Chase has a passion for a music, each episode meticulously curated like a live-action mixtape with mobsters, rather than a typical hour long drama. For Not Fade Away, Chase's directorial debut, the small screen auteur immerses himself completely in the mesmerizing grandness of the '60s era rock and roll scene. But it's not a movie founded on nostalgia for nostalgia's sake — Douglas' exploration of music and the life that surrounds it is depicted with passion and accuracy, as if Chase adapted journal entries of every pop culture-infused moment from his own life. We don't see Douglas' entire career play out or pull back to completely understand the '60s music industry. It's just about one big dreamer.
Not Fade Away feels like six seasons of a television show condensed into a swift two hour film. It's purposefully disjointed, hitting the big beats in Douglas' (John Magaro) life like true memories do. In the years that follow his graduation, Douglas joins his two buddies Eugene (Jack Huston) and Wells (Will Brill) to fill out their always-rotating band roster. With Douglas, they find a leading man, and become a big deal in the New Jersey suburbs. The musical career confidence convinces Douglas to bail from college, much to the chagrin of his dad Pat (James Gandolfini). Gone are his plans to join the ROTC and travel to Vietnam, replaced by ambition for fame, artistic fulfillment, and romance with the cool girl from high school, Grace (Bella Heathcote).
The film covers a lot of ground, but it's not a quick rise of the top for Douglas. Not Fade Away plays more like the anti-action war film of Jarhead through the terms of That Thing You Do. Like The Sopranos, the film uses a mix of comedy and drama to make the story relatable. Magaro, Huston, and Brill sound and act like young people. They listen to records, smoke pot, talk a big talk, and act like know-it-alls. They fall face first when minor hurdles come along. They pal around. They fall in love, then fall out of it moments later. The time in-between these memorable scenes could be days or weeks or months or years, but Chase boldly jumps from one poignant moment to the next, whether it's Douglas nearly fist-fighting his father, the first time he has sex with Grace (a semi-awkward couch moment), or hearing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" for the first time.
Not Fade Away isn't overtly profound, but it's a joy to watch. As Douglas loses himself to music, so do we, Chase's incredible soundtrack handpicked by musician/producer Steven Van Zandt. We're not just told why someone would fondly recall growing up in the '60s, we feel it. It's mirrored by photography that makes the drab Jersey suburbs and rundown streets of New York's East Village pop in accordance with the tunes. And like Sopranos, which did plenty of poetic waxing as it told its epic gangster tale, Chase relies heavily on the well-rounded performances of his cast. Magaro plays Douglas in a way that fits the film's pacing. All at once he's a dork, a romantic, an a**hole, and a philosopher (plus, he can sing!). The other standout is Gandolfini; an actor who could be perceived as one-note on the surface reminds us once again of his subtle range. There's a bit of Tony Soprano in Pat, but the tough exterior has plenty of vulnerabilities. In fact, it might be that there's a little of Chase's own father in Tony.
The unconventional style makes Not Fade Away less digestible than a music-driven coming of age story like Almost Famous. Chase prioritizes the experiential over the step-by-step narrative. It makes the film more sporadic, but keeps the audience on its toes. With vivid colors, sharp wit, and the perfect selection of songs, the writer/director brings the same freshness that turned The Sopranos into a modern classic to Not Fade Away. When it rocks out this winter, catch it.
[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]
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Whether or not you like the Twilight Saga movies and books, it's likely that you'll at least bear affinity for a few entries on the movies' soundtrack. From 2008's Twilight through 2011's Breaking Dawn - Part 1, the series has featured celebrated artists like Muse, Iron & Wine, OK Go, Florence and the Machine, Vampire Weekend (naturally), Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars, and The Black Keys. Just released, courtesy of MTV, is the track listing for the forthcoming Breaking Dawn - Part 2's soundtrack.
The final chapter of the Twilight Saga will feature some of the series' most accomplished artists yet, including Green Day and film composer Carter Burwell. Newer groups also grace the soundtrack, including the likes of Passion Pit, Paul McDonald, and Ellie Goulding.
You can view the entire soundtrack listing below. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 comes out on November 21.Passion Pit, "Where I Come From"
Ellie Goulding, "Bittersweet"
Green Day, "The Forgotten"
Feist, "Fire in the Water"
The Boom Circuits, "Everything and Nothing"
St. Vincent, "The Antidote"
POP ETC, "Speak Up"
Iko, "Heart of Stone"
A Boy and His Kite, "Cover Your Tracks"
James Vincent McMorrow, "Ghosts"
Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed, "All I've Ever Needed"
Reeve Carney, "New for You"
Christina Perri, "A Thousand Years (Part Two)"
Carter Burwell, "Plus Que Ma Prope Vie"[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
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