I don't know who chooses the soundtracks for movies, or how they select appropriate music. Not every film can have a Zach Braff.
But whoever did it for the megablockbuster "Spiderman 3," they have some GREAT taste in music. Rather than scrabbling for some MTV hits, the soundtrack is graced with some genuinely wonderful music -- blazing blurry hard-rockers, lush Britpop, and mellow balladry. It's more a clever rock mixtape than a soundtrack.
It kicks off with Snow Patrol's "Signal Fire," a blend of blazing guitar and lushly swirling instrumentation. The Scotrockers really shine in this one, straddling the line between Britpop and energetic rock'n'roll. "In the confusion and the aftermath/You are my signal fire/The only resolution and the only joy/Is the faint spark of forgiveness in your eyes..."
It's followed up by some hard-rocking stuff -- the Killers have a high-octane "Move Away," the Yeah Yeah Yeahs provide the sizzling "Sealings," and the glorious Wolfmother takes the hard-rock thing even further with the deliciously sludgy "Pleased to Meet You," which is a great introduction to the band.
Then with a epic grimy rocker by the Walkmen (complete with yowling), we segue into some softer material -- Black Mountain provides a beautifully sweeping folksy-rock ballad, Jet's bluesy rocker, Simon Dawes wails that he is "Scared of Myself," Rogue Wave strolls through shimmering indiepop, and Sounds Under Radio turns on the swirling, cycling electric guitars in a soaring ballad.
And with a title like "The Supreme Being Teaches Spider-Man How To Be In Love," it's pretty obvious that the Flaming Lips are involved. Their song is really lovely, with a "Soft Bulletin" softness and beauty.
The soundtrack for the first two "Spiderman" movie had one or two good songs per album (Aerosmith!) by an accomplished band, but most of the songs were by a wretched wad of trendy pop-rockers like Maroon 5, Yellowcard and the Ataris. So I can be forgiven for expecting the worst in the third movie's soundtrack.
Fortunately, I was wrong. The third movie's soundtrack is just crammed with great bands, many of whom are still unknown to the mainstream (Black Mountain, anyone?). There are one or two bumpy patches -- Coconut Records's smug-sounding ballad mellows me into a stupor -- but most of the songs have the feeling of a mix CD you burn for an indie friend, to introduce them to some great music.
And many of the songs fit together well -- many of these songs have cycling, blurry guitars and a slightly grimy sound, and though few of them sound alike, they complement one another. And some of them fit the themes of the music well -- "Signal Fire" and "Scared of Myself" seem like perfect reflections of Peter Parker's feelings in the movie.
The soundtrack for "Spiderman 3" is not only a wonderful soundtrack, but a solid collection of brilliant alternative rock'n'roll. After the awful "Spiderman 2" soundtrack, this is a blessing.