Phoebe Bridgers, Thundercat, Brockhampton, Tame Impala, Kali Uchis. Sounds like a crazy lineup for a music festival, right? Well, it isn’t. All these artists are present in the new Minions: The Rise of Gru Soundtrack of all the movies. And with a star roster like this, despite being a kids’ movie, you’d expect this to be an easy homer out of the park. But alas, the Minions: The Rise of Gru Soundtrack lacks glory.
Now you may be wondering, how can such a stacked lineup not live up to its high expectations? Perhaps it’s due to the fact that being featured on a film’s soundtrack doesn’t allow for all the creative freedom one might expect.
Even with the polarizing phenomenon of pop music producer Jack Antonoff lending a hand to the production of the entire project, the revisited series of 1970s hits starring modern musicians leaves a little more to be desired. Sure, there are a handful of memorable moments on the Minions: The Rise of Gru Soundtrack like the funky opening “Turn Up the Sunshine” by Diana Ross and Tame Impala, or the dark Carpenters cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ “Goodbye to Love”. But with a clunky production and some weird song choices, the Minions: The Rise of Gru Soundtrack overall it seems to be another forgettable compilation of songs.
When you say “another”, what you are actually saying is that there are so many movie soundtracks that featured some of your favorite artists that they were ignored because they didn’t have any real substance. Sure, the songs were made for a designated movie and not specifically for their personal projects. But it seems that most of the time the artists featured on the soundtracks don’t offer the quality of music they normally would.
Before we go any further, it is important to distinguish between different types of movie soundtracks. Of course, there are the soundtracks by John Williams and Hans Zimmer which feature elegant and exuberant instrumentals with a string and wind section masterfully accompanying a film. Then there are soundtracks with original music included in a movie such as a musical or a Disney movie in which the characters sing the melodies from the film. Then there are movie soundtracks that look more like a compilation of previously recorded songs like The Guardians of the Galaxy: Fantastic Mix Vol. 1.
And finally, we have movie soundtracks that include original music inspired and recorded specifically for that soundtrack as the new one Minion movie. There is something unique about this category of film soundtracks because it allows artists to focus on a genre or style of writing that they may or may not be used to if they were creating music for their own body of work. And while having limits can lead to creativity, this narrow view can also lead some artists to musical obstacles.
Another recent soundtrack filled to the brim with hit artists like Doja Cat, Eminem, Denzel Curry, Kacey Musgraves and again, Tame Impala, is the 2022 biopic. Elvis with Austin Butler. As expected, each artist adds their own style to the King of Rock and Roll’s discography by ironically covering his music or writing songs inspired by his flashy lifestyle. And in theory, musicians who find inspiration from another monumental musician seem like child’s play, but the Elvis Soundtrack, unfortunately, it falls flat. The soundtrack sounds almost as if the featured artists are phoning her for a check where there’s nothing wrong with it, but it leaves fans a little empty-handed.
It may seem like all movie soundtracks don’t fulfill the potential and creative integrity that featured artists are usually known for, but it definitely isn’t. There are quite a few beloved movie soundtracks with original music that have recently made their way into people’s hearts. Marvel Black Panther the soundtrack gathered in the likes of SZA, Vince Staples, Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar for double-sided lines paired with the energy of the action-packed film. The Black panther soundtrack is a perfect example of how to use talent and let each artist bring their own unique voice into a collaborative project without hindering their own creative voice.
Everyone’s favorite robot duo, Daft Punk, also delivered a flawless soundtrack for the Tron: Legacy films in 2010. Hovering more on the film soundtrack side, Daft Punk were able to bring out the world of Tron through heavy synths, punchy bass, and pounding drums. Disney gave the robots full control and allowed them to embrace their quirky electronic style to capture the digital landscape of the fictional arcade game.
It would be a disservice not to mention one of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time, Dusk. At a time when girls kept up with their Tumblrs and teen drama was all the rage, Dusk recruited the likes of Paramore, Muse, Radiohead and Iron & Wine for a monumental event that forever transformed the way music accompanies movies.
The reason why the Twilight Saga soundtracks were such a pivotal moment in film history because they brought together such a wide range of artists to capture the essence of an unconventional vampire romance. But they did it in a way that accentuated the aesthetics of the film, almost making the soundtrack release an event in its own right.
With movies after the Dusk series, it seems like everyone was trying to take gold with another huge soundtrack like The Great Gatsby or With love, Simonebut nothing has really hit as hard as it did in 2008. The Great Gatsby soundtrack included music from Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, Jay-Z and Jack White, but overall, the soundtrack sounded like someone wrapped you in a delicate velvet blanket, but once removed, you were left with a pile of lint stuck to you.
The With love, Simone’s soundtrack contained a handful of songs from Jack Antonoff’s power-pop band Bleachers, as well as Troye Sivan and The 1975. And as much as everyone loves Jack Antonoff’s work, there is hardly anyone who exclaims the With love, Simone’s soundtrack has a strong replay value.
Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, or maybe movie soundtracks don’t hit as hard as they once did. Scott Pellegrino against the world, Voyage, Junoeven the Shrek ssiding all are over 10 years old and hitting even harder than many soundtracks out today. With all the talent available and the resources available to everyone essentially guiding their hand to making an absolute hit with little chance of failure, it seems artists don’t care much about movie soundtracks these days.
At the end of the day, appreciating a certain movie soundtrack depends on personal preference and the songs that hit your ears the right way. There is some resentment towards Minions: The Rise of Gru Soundtrack for not fully meeting her incredibly high expectations with her unimaginable featured lists? Yes, but you can’t help but dream of a day when movie soundtracks can thrive and tiptoe with many other music projects in an artist’s discography and not just be seen as a detour between their albums. .
What it really boils down to is that we all just want to hear good music, whether it’s inspired by a kids’ movie or included in a superhero movie. While inclusion in a film’s soundtrack can restrict an artist’s creative voice, having some limitations can lead artists to think outside the box. Whether artists are writing music for a children’s film or performing a song, sometimes soundtracks can bring out the best in a musician as with Dusk and in some songs Minions: The Rise of Gru.