Friends With Benefits Soundtrack20.07.11 # Soundtrack # 55 Comments
A summery, soulful vibe dominates the first half of the soundtrack to Friends With Benefits, the new comedy from Will Gluck which is unlikely to have a single review or article written about it that doesn’t mention Ivan Reitman’s conceptually identical No Strings Attached (hey, fulfilled my own prophecy there! Shaping the future. Yay me).
However just as the balmy heat and blue skies of summer can offer an irresistible environment for certain ill-advised behaviours (too much drinking, too much sun, spending your hard-earned money on a ticket for Green Lantern), so the early part of this tie-in album finds a number of classic songs receiving a refresh treatment that you’re not quite sure they ever really needed.
But, having said that, if logic dictates that only a brave fool would try to cover the Cure’s cast-iron classic Boys Don’t Cry, then the stripped-back, sensitive version served up here by Grant-Lee Phillips turns out to be actually rather lovely. Slightly less successful is the Philip Steir remix of that perennial movie soundtrack fave Magic Carpet Ride, by Steppenwolf, which I’m not sure was ever really crying out for added scratching and periodic cries of “1! 2! 3! 4!”. The chorus, though, is wisely left pretty much alone, and remains a bit of a retro-rock juggernaut.
Then there’s New York, New York, a song with which it is as inadvisable to screw as it was with its most famous interpretor, Mr. Frank Sinatra, what with his Cosa Nostra connections ‘n’ all (uh, allegedly). One of the most untouchable numbers in popular music history, covered in this instance by Ray Quinn, familiar to we in the UK as a persistent reality TV contestant and as li’l Ant’nee Murray from ill-fated soap opera Brookside, with added rapping from a fella calling himself UltraLove. Why, it’s enough to have Frankie spinning in his grave like the firing chamber of a Tommy gun.
For all the possible offence taken by Sinatra worshippers, the contribution of Mr. Love – Ultra to his buddies – makes a kind of sense when taken as part of the generally breezy vibe sustained throughout side one of Friends With Benefits the album. It is the same vibe which confers respectability upon the harmonica-charged BBQ funk of G. Love & Special Sauce (yes, really), and the insanely happy-clappy pop of Max & Simon’s Such a Colorful World.
The sunshine party atmos doesn’t last, mind, as a mellower mood takes hold (hmm, happy to melancholy – intended to equate with the progress of the typical relationship?), courtesy of the likes of Double O Zero, Tal & Acacia, and Rogue Wave. The latter contribute a cover of OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass, recorded specifically for Gluck’s film, and indeed the song does eventually pass. Eventually.
But the midway point of the album doesn’t signal a total shift to indie acoustic fare, as we’re also treated to the obligatory comedy film joke track (comparable examples: She Drives Me Crazy from The Back-up Plan, Jessie’s Girl from Hot Tub Time Machine), that in this case being Kris Kross’s Jump. Now, I doubt I’ve listened to that song in full since around the time of its original release, when it was proudly recited by squeaky-voiced school kids in playgrounds all the way from Belfast to Bognor Regis, and I was actually surprised at how agreeable a listen I found it. Similarly winning, although altogether less kitsch, is Janelle Monáe’s Tightrope, which is very simply urgent and excellent, and probably the best thing on this whole soundtrack.
Friends With Benefits Soundtrack (Songs) – Track List
1. Magic Carpet Ride (Philip Steir remix) – Steppenwolf
2. L.O.V. – Fitz and the Tantrums
3. Booty Call – G. Love & Special Sauce
4. New York, New York (FWB remix) – Ray Quinn, featuring UltraLove
5. Boy Don’t Cry – Grant-Lee Phillips
6. Such a Colorful World – Max & Simon
7. Satellite – Peter Conway
8. Let a Woman be a Woman (and a Man be a Man) – Dyke and the Blazers
9. At the Window – Double O Zero
10. Love’s Gonna Getcha – Tal & Acacia
11. Jump – Kris Kross
12. This Too Shall Pass – Rogue Wave
13. Tightrope – Janelle Monáe
14. Take a Bow – Greg Laswell
15. Closing Time – Semisonic
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