There appears to be some kind of unwritten Hollywood rule that a Young Adult blockbuster must feature a soundtrack stacked with credible indie favorites. First, the Twilight phenomenon roped in the likes of Iron & Wine, Thom Yorke, and Vampire Weekend for three albums' worth of angst-ridden rock, then the Hunger Games series recruited everyone from Arcade Fire to Patti Smith to provide the musical backdrop for The Capitol's annual fight to the death. Now, it's Divergent's turn. The forthcoming big-screen adaptation of Veronica Roth's best-selling novels shows off its too-cool-for-school credentials with the release of 13 tracks which either helped to inspire or were inspired by its dystopian story.Executive produced by Hans Zimmer, the collection doesn't initially seem to be too concerned about distancing itself from the film's obvious predecessors. Ellie Goulding – who recently lent her featherlight vocals to the Catching Fire soundtrack – shows up three times here, while the shadow of Coldplay's contribution to the aforementioned also hovers over the windswept rock of Snow Patrol's "I Won't Let You Go."
The formulaic hands-in-the-air EDM of superstar DJ Zedd’s opener "Find You" isn't exactly the most encouraging start either. But thankfully, the soundtrack soon recovers to carve out an intriguing and unexpectedly Gallic-tinged identity of its own.
Indeed, it's the three French artists who make the cut who turn out to provide the album's standout moments. Anthony Gonzales's M83 – no stranger to futuristic sci-fi having composed the entire score for Tom Cruise's Oblivion – showcase their triumphant blend of saxophones and synth-rock on the widescreen "I Need You."
Parisian video director-turned-troubadour Woodkid's international profile will no doubt rocket after lending the gothic baroque rock of 2012 single "Run Boy Run" to the movie. While best-known for his work on Kanye West's Yeezus, techno producer Gesaffelstein remains as uncompromising yet hypnotic as ever on the unnerving and appropriately apocalyptic doom-hop of A$AP Rocky collaboration "In Distress."
The latter is also indicative of the album's stronger hip-hop flavour. Chance The Rapper provides a brilliantly off-kilter rap on the spacey electro-R&B of Pia Mia's "Fight For You." Plus, Kendrick Lamar justifying his MTV's Hottest MC in the Game label with an inspired reworking of Tame Impala's "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" with the Australian psych-rock revivalists.
Of course, described by director Neil Burger as the inner voice of the film's heroine Tris, it's Goulding who takes center stage. The cloying balladry of "Dead in the Water" and new composition "Beating Heart," essentially a subdued retread of her US No. 2 hit "Lights," fail to leave much impression. However, London trio I See MONSTAS' remix of "Hanging On" is much more vibrant, substituting the original's ethereal qualities for grimy synths, punchy handclaps and pitch-shifted vocals.
If Goulding's omnipresence is supposed to set the tone for the film, then it seems unlikely that Divergent will be as thrilling as its action-packed counterparts. But if it's more in keeping with the rest of the impressively eclectic track-list, then Mockingjay may have a genuine rival for this year's biggest teen-friendly hit.
Divergent hits theaters March 21. You can check showtimes and purchase advanced tickets at Movietickets.com.Follow @Hollywood_com
WENNComebacks from one of the world's biggest stadium rock bands, the original M.I.A. and Victoria Beckham's former arch-nemesis all feature in this week's guide to the best recently-unveiled tracks.Neneh Cherry – "Blank Project"Although Neneh Cherry has kept herself busy via collaborations with jazz trio The Thing and trip-hop collective Cirkus, it's been 17 years since her last solo LP, Woman. An intense Four Tet-produced account of a love-hate relationship, the title track from her forthcoming fourth studio effort proves she remains as compelling as ever.Solange – "Cash In"After kicking off the year in style with the stunning True EP, the most interesting Knowles sister now ends it with another gorgeous slice of leftfield R&B taken from her Saint Heron compilation – the first release on her own boutique label Saint Records.Sophie Ellis-Bextor – "Young Blood"Capitalising on her current run on Strictly Come Dancing, the UK's most well-spoken pop star abandons the elegant electro she made her name with in favour of a lush and cinematic baroque-pop ballad which certainly bodes well for her upcoming fifth album Wanderlust.Royksopp – "Something In My Heart"Accompanied by the yearning James Blake-esque tones of The Irrepressibles' Jamie McDermott, the Norwegian duo confirm their status as kings of electro-pop heartbreak with a typically dreamy blend of chugging synths, melancholic melodies and slow-motion beats.U2 – "Ordinary Love"Following the commercial disappointment of 2009's experimental No Line On The Horizon, U2 now go back to basics with their contribution to the new Nelson Mandela biopic. Produced by Danger Mouse, "Ordinary Love" combines a resonant piano hook with The Edge's familiar echo-drenched riffs a to produce the band's most quietly affecting single in years.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been more than a decade since the Y2K debacle, which was probably one of the most ridiculous scares ever. The 2000s were a new beginning for a lot of things, including the music scene. In the naughts, pop and a new (autotuned) kind of hip-hop dominated the mainstream airwaves, but there were glimmers of awesomeness every couple of years.
Although it’s too early to say which new artists from the '00s were the most influential, here’s a rundown of 7 debut albums from the last 10 years that will most likely have a lasting power in the music world.
The Strokes: Is This It (2001) The Strokes’ debut album’s influence was felt immediately, with dozens of knock-off bands wanting to ride the garage rock wave along with the Strokes, Hives and White Stripes. Nothing came close to Is This It, though. Hands down one of the most influential albums of the decade, the flawless distortion and new age Lou Reed-like vocals on Is This It turned the Strokes into overnight sensations. Everyone from Kings of Leon, the Killers, and the Bravery got their starts by adopting the Strokes’ style, and their debut will no doubt stand the test of time.
The Libertines: Up the Bracket (2002) What the Strokes were in America, the Libertines were in the U.K. In a rather banal time when music desperately needed some guitar rock to kick in the door and shake things up a bit, the Libertines came in to save the day with the great Up the Bracket. The album was pure frantic garage rock, rooted in punk from both sides of the pond (think Stooges and Pistols had a baby), and offered more than just great music – Up the Bracket started a new kind of lifestyle, complete with Libertine-isms, shiny jackets, and slicked back hair (thanks, Carl Barat). Like the Strokes, the Libertines also influenced many bands that came up after them, including the View, Left Hand, and the Arctic Monkeys.
White Stripes: Elephant (2003) Elephant wasn’t the White Stripes’ for real-for real debut, but it was their first after being signed to a major label. This is the album that really introduced the band to the mainstream and, along with Is This It, is definitely one of the decade’s most influential albums. The perfect mix of garage rock, blues, and punk catapulted the White Stripes into fame and, not surprisingly, also inspired a legion of imitators trying to make a band with the most basic ingredients: guitar and drums. The album was made in 4 short weeks and should be put in a museum, if only because it gave us one of the greatest non-bass basslines in music history with “Seven Nation Army.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell (2003) Yeah Yeah Yeahs took the raw garage rock of the Strokes and melded it into an even rawer, deeper, garage punk sound on their 2003 debut, Fever to Tell. With Karen O’s wildly gorgeous vocals and music that sounded like it had gone through a Turn This Noise to Eleven blender, Fever to Tell was a masterpiece in 2 parts – the first half of the album was frenzied and wild, while the second half was more introspective and controlled. Yeah Yeah Yeahs helped bring art punk to the forefront and inspired many a-ladies to learn how to yell at the top of their lungs and still sound classy.
Kanye West: The College Dropout (2004) Regardless of the fact that he’s thisclose to becoming a bona fide caricature of himself, Kanye West’s debut album is still a force to be reckoned with. West took rap in a completely different direction with The College Dropout, spitting about insecurities, desires, and worldly reflections instead of the usual hyper-masculine, haughty bravado that was dominating rap. While not the first rapper to do this by any means, West’s debut brought self-reflective and self-conscious rap back to the mainstream.
Arcade Fire: Funeral (2004) Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire took the music world by Quebecois storm with their 2004 debut, Funeral. The somber debut that dealt with family deaths wound up being one of the most beautiful records of the decade, with their baroque pop influence and flair for drama making the band stand out from the abundance of other indie rockers that made up the scene. Funeral took indie rock to a new level, proving that you didn’t need 2 members in a band to be legit and you shouldn’t be afraid to dream the most grandiose dreams for your musical vision. Arcade Fire also helped make parking lots cool again, so there’s that.
Arular (2005) M.I.A.’s debut album was a brilliant mix of grime, hip hop, dancehall, electro, and Southeast Asian influences. Few would be able to hold their own under the vast influences that were drawn from to make the record, but M.I.A. did more than hold her own, making politics and social change something you can dance to. M.I.A.’s sound on Arular was unique and fresh, and the effects of her genre mash-ups is still felt in pop culture, including in hip hop production and pop music (M.I.A. was the original crazy-eccentric chick of the naughts).
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From an indie-rock royalty comeback to an unlikely star-studded EDM collaboration, here's a look at five of the best tracks to have been unveiled over the last seven days.
Blood Orange – "Chamakay"After giving the likes of Sky Ferreira, Solange and MKS a hipster sheen, producer extraordinaire Dev Hynes teams up with Chairlift's Carolina Polachek for the latest release under his Blood Orange moniker. Accompanied by a touching video which reunites him with his long-lost Guyanese family, "Chamakay" is another effortlessly cool piece of hazy R&B pop which features a slight resemblance to Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl."
Arcade Fire – "Reflektor"Produced by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, featuring backing vocals from David Bowie and clocking in at just under eight minutes, Arcade Fire have certainly pulled out all the stops for this triumphant comeback single, a loping Talking Heads-esque indie-disco curveball which more than justifies all its initial hype.
Avicii feat. Adam Lambert & Nile Rodgers – "Lay Me Down"Following on from the foot-stomping country house of "Wake Me Up," the latest cut from Avicii's long-awaited debut album sees the Swede once again eschew the bombast favoured by his EDM peers and instead head towards funky disco territory with a little help from Chic legend Nile Rodgers and a typically gutsy powerhouse turn from Adam Lambert.
Lorde – "Team"Proving that current US Top 10 single "Royals" is no fluke, the ridiculously talented 16-year-old serves up another wise-beyond-her-years baroque pop number that builds from an entirely a capella intro into a soaring fusion of emphatic kick-snares and glistening synths.
Goldroom - "Embrace"Joined by the enchanting vocals of Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Ariela Jacobs, Los Angeles producer Josh Legg delivers another lush slice of sun-kissed house-pop which might just help to stave off those post-summer blues for a little while longer.Follow @Hollywood_com
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