Music plays such a pivotal role in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim books that it’s just as important to Edgar Wright’s film adaptation as proper casting and plot points. In a way, it’s even more important. We can debate if Michael Cera was miscast or not as the title character (Personally I think he succeeds), but you can’t really debate if the music was appropriate or not for Pilgrim’s quest to defeat the seven evil exes of his love interest Ramona and win her heart. Either he listens to Plumtree or he doesn’t. Luckily, the tunes O’Malley, Wright and executive music producer Nigel Godrich assembled are amazing.
The soundtrack is packed with songs from the story’s bands, Sex Bob-Omb (written by Beck), Crash and the Boys (Broken Social Scene) and Clash at Demonhead (Metric). Each artist fits their respective proxies perfectly. Beck shoulders the most tunes, turning in four tracks as Sex Bob-Omb and two alternate takes as himself on “Ramona.” The Sex Bob-Omb tracks are about what I had imagined they’d sound like based on the comics. Sloppy, grungy indie rock with a fat bottom abounds. Broken Social Scene gets to be comedic for Crash and the Boys, penning the songs “We Hate You Please Die” (59 seconds) and “I’m So Sad, So Very, Very Sad” (0:13!) in a fuzzy punk style while also delivering a dreamy original under their own moniker, “Anthems For a Seventeen Year Old Girl.” Metric only contributes one song, the dancey “Black Sheep,” but since I always imagined Demonhead sounding like Metric circa
The rest of the tracklisting is made up of songs that inspired the film. Yeah, I know, every soundtrack boasts that, but here it’s actually true. Starting with volume three, O’Malley started including playlists of songs that inspired him while writing Scott Pilgrim, and plenty of those songs made it into the film, from Beachwood Spark’s dreamy country tune “By Your Side” to the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb” to the title character’s inspiration, Plumtree’s “Scott Pilgrim.” Not everything made it onto the CD (When will the rest of the world recognize the Cardigans’ brilliance?!), but at 19 tracks, the mix is mighty fine.
There’s one glaring oversight though: No Smashing Pumpkins. The character rocks not one, but two SP shirts in the movie, yet there are no Corgan compositions to be heard in the film or on this disc (Not that anyone would want to hear what Corgan is writing these days anyway…). It doesn’t cripple the soundtrack by any means, although it would have been sweet watching Scott smash ex-boyfriends to the tune of “Jellybelly,” or cuddle up to Ramona while listening to “To Sheila.” Still, it’s not like Juno, whose main character claimed to love the Ramones, the Stooges, and the Runaways but somehow ended up being soundtracked by a lot of Moldy Peaches and Belle & Sebastian songs. Here, fans get 19 songs, each relevant to the story in its own way. When the worst song on your soundtrack is by T. Rex, you’ve done a good job.