There have been only a few films recently that have grabbed my attention like Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (for the full review, please direct yourself here). I’ve listened to this album numerous times, daily, and along with the film twice. There is depth and complexity that is not apparent by just listening to the soundtrack without having seen the film, so if you find yourself to be a fan of the soundtrack, make sure you see the film. The level at which sight and sound melts together is one of the best I have come across.
I felt compelled to take my time with this one, not only as a fan of electronic music, but due to this aggregation of sound standing out to me as one of the most interesting modern pairing of film and music this year. While there may be a certain incongruence with most people’s taste and pure electronically-made music, I feel that this is a huge, and important, segue from most other soundtracks. The scored pieces and individual tracks are completely necessary for the story and mood of the film. The soundtrack accurately conveys, in my opinion, the abrasive and raw attitude of some college-aged kids and the new party scene that is being driven by electronic music. The new “annoying-to-your-parents” sound of the future has now been popularized enough and thrives as a low frequency noise assault on the mainstream. This saw-like noise is known as dubstep and it is everywhere.
As much as I love symphonic compositions, such as what we’d hear from Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer, there is a new trend of ambient electronic minimalism that has decided to extend the the spectrum of how modern films are scored. The use of analog synths, extremely distorted voices, and fancy drum software has let modern composers like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross become wildly successful with their scores for the films The Social Network and the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.
While the extremely successful Trent Reznor is a veteran musician, he is still relatively new as a film composer. For Spring Breakers, we get a veteran film composer named Cliff Martinez and partial contributions from Skrillex. If you’ve heard of Cliff Martinez, you probably did a quick Google search, have a super memory, or are either a huge fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Before putting a sock on his dick with the Chili Peppers, Cliff was involved with group known as The Dickies. The Dickies recorded a little song called “Killer Klowns” that became the theme song for the seminole “scare the fuck out of kids” movie from 1988 of the similar name, Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Cliff Martinez has a long list of films he’s contributed to, including his work on Spring Breakers and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (full list here). What is important to note about his most recent success is not only the detail he puts into his work, which is full of emotional drive that matches beautifully to the film, but also his film director counter-parts. Directors like Nicolas Winding Refn and David Fincher are known to be perfectionists not only about their films, but also the sound and music that goes into it. Now, with a wild card like Harmony Korine, we not only get a monstrous amalgamation of vivid sights, but also the sexy and raw sounds to accompany them.
Now for the soundtrack. I suggest you get a copy or click on the links (previews or full songs) which will be posted if found.
Skrillex is a grammy-award winning producer and current figurehead of North American dubstep. Heading his own label and group, OWSLA, he lends his hand in everything from international electronic collaborations to rap and hip-hop acts. With a subtle and naive-like beginning, it is the monster hit of an introduction to the film. The tender and whimsical little melody starts off the song and film, but quickly introduces and immerses you to the the wild things you’ll hear and see.
2. Cliff Martinez & Skrillex – Rise and Shine Little Bitches
3. Cliff Martinez – Pretend It’s a Video Game
The quick 30-second transition quickly goes into “Pretend It’s a Video Game.” A very hopeful and minimalist track with mild ambient bells and extended synths. It set the beginning tone of the film with a calming drum beat which then rises to a louder and slightly insidious synth-driven beat.
Probably the least abrasive Skrillex song on the album. A completely up-tempo track with distorted vocals sampled into the actual melody at one point. Near mid-way you can hear the very beautiful classic piano riff added, followed by a very nostalgic 1980s-styled synthesizer. Drums come in and the song just gets continues to become ever more joyful. If you heard this song without reference, you would not think it was on this album.
5. Dangeruss & James Franco – “Hangin’ With da Dopeboys“
The most comical track on the album that is also most likely completely serious. This track sets the tone for James Franco’s character, Alien. A caricature of a mildly successful hustler and dope dealer. I would listen to this ironically, but appreciate the actual lyrics and delivery from Dangeruss, who is basically the real-life Alien. You can download his mix-tape, which includes “Hangin’ With da Dopeboys” for free here.
6. Cliff Martinez & Skrillex – “Bikinis & Big Booties Y’all“
7. Cliff Martinez – “Never Gonna Get This Pussy“
With hints of “Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites,” “Bikinis & Big Booties Y’all” is a beautiful little 2 minute song. What makes it so beautiful and profound is how short and much restraint was put into it. This is the end of innocence within the film and a foreshadowing of the terrible shit to come. Along with the repetitive and quietly stressful, “Never Gonna Get This Pussy“, both go together as the “calm-before-the-storm” tracks.
Birdy Nam Nam was a relatively obscure group until recently. Now a part of OWSLA, their track, “Goin’ In” gets a hard Skrillex remix that is featured extensively in the film. It is important to note that this is another French-based group to crossover to film work. Others of importance are Daft Punk who worked on Tron: Legacy and Vitalic whose tracks were featured in Dredd 3D. Birdy Nam Nam’s track “Goin’ In“, can be found on their album, Defiant Order. Track samples from Defiant Order can be found on Birdy Nam Nam’s official SoundCloud. A lengthier collaboration between the three can be seen in A$AP Rocky’s elegent and gritty music video here.
Note: Some tracks will appear out of order, for the sake of brevity, summarization, and transitional cohesiveness between the tracks.
9. Waka Flocka Flame – “Fuck This Industry“
12. Gucci Mane – “Young N****s (Featuring Waka Flocka Flame)”
15. Meek Mill, Pill, Torch & Rick Ross – “Big Bank (feat. French Montana)“
Produced by Waka Flocka Flame, a close friend of Gucci Mane (Archi “Big Arch), is “Fuck This Industry“. The lyrics lay a good setting not only of the more seedy scenes, but more importantly, about the respect and motivations for the actions of some of the more threatening characters. For a full-blown introduction of the soft spoken, but menacing, presence that is “Big Arch”, we get a threatening track from the man himself.
10. Skrillex – “Smell This Money“
11. Skrillex – “Park Smoke
13. Cliff Martinez – “Your Friends Ain’t Gonna Leave With You“
14. Skrillex – “Ride Home“
16. Cliff Martinez & Skrillex – “Son of Scary Monsters“
17. Cliff Martinez – “Big ‘Ol Scardy Pants“
Meticulous beats, with remnants of Skrillex’s beloved sawing bass, makes up “Smell This Money“. Following is the the pulsating and ethereal track, “Park Smoke“, which is an etremely different style for Skrillex. Both these tracks meld well with the theme and sounds Cliff began, especially “Your Friends Ain’t Gonna Leave With You“. One of my favorite ambient tracks of the film is “Ride Home” by Skrillex, again in the surprisingly different style. The distorted vocals are deep with pain and resentment which makes for a beautiful scene of regret and uncertainty in the film.
18. Skrillex – “Scary Monsters On Strings“
19. Ellie Goulding – “Lights“
The last two tracks on the album are by Skrillex and Ellie Goulding. “Scary Monsters On Strings” is exactly like the melody in in the first track, but offers an almost comforting sound for the end to the journey of the girls that remain. After all the fucked up shit they’ve seen, and done, we get this “exit song” of their story. This track reminds me of “The Rescue and End Credits” track from Predator. If you remember, it is a rendition of “Taps” being played along with a symphony right before the credits (which has the badass Predator theme). At the end of Spring Breakers there is much uncertainty left. Who the hell knows what will happen next? All we know is that it is the end, and we finally get relief from the barrage of violence and amazing absurdity we just witnessed. The ending reminds me of how I feel after watching Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas: glad I watched it, but also happy I didn’t live it. For our exit from the savage world of the film, we get to listen to Ellie Goulding’s lovely voice in her song, “Lights.” It is sweet, satisfying, and probably the most appropriate exit music to regain your composure.
After watching this film I loved it and the music chosen for it, immediately. If you get a chance to buy or, at least, listen to the album, please do so. Also, please look at some of the names that may seem foreign to you, they are all great. The only drawback to this soundtrack is that we didn’t get any bit of “Everytime” by Britney Spears. It’s usage in the film was one of my favorite scenes of the film.
Until next time, “LOOK AT MY SHIT!”