“WE ARE SEX BOB-OMB! ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!”
Certain soundtracks, certain compilations, they can stand as the summation of a broad set of popular interests - representative of an era, a generation. You can pull at least one soundtrack from every decade since radio hits became part of the director’s vision, music so thoroughly incorporated into the film that it becomes as necessary as the script, and even generates a life of its own: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘The Graduate’, ‘Easy Rider’, ‘Shaft’, ‘Saturday Night Fever’, ‘The Big Chill’, ‘Natural Born Killers’, ‘Clerks’, ‘Rushmore’... as music and film continue perfectly enmeshed in our lives, they will both continually matter and, therefore, always be at the forefront of humanity’s tale, whether that tale be truth or fiction.
Was Scott Pilgrim’s creator, Bryan Lee O'Malley, attempting to define what would constitute a superhero in today’s digital age: an early twenties underdog bass player who’s had the good fortune, uncommon among videogame geeks, to break-up with girlfriends (plural!), let alone be in a position to defend himself against the seven evil exes of his current love interest? Scott Pilgrim is a Peter Parker for this millennium - the geeky weakling transformed by circumstance. In Pilgrim’s case, it just so happens that he’s able to make the words “KROWW!” appear magically as he punches opponents.
As the ‘00s have owed much of their attention to digitized information, technology has transcended social hierarchy, and videogames and social networks are now wired into our collective consciousness. Even your mom is on Facebook, so a movie like ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’ - albeit intended for an audience of indie rock hipsters, videogame-addled PS3 junkies, suckers for superhero motifs, and those fluent in gamer language - is a story that anybody can understand, told from a surreal, technological perspective. Hero? Check. Love interest? Check. Dilemma? Check. Conflict? Check. Moments of clarity and subsequent acts of contrition? Check.
Remember when parents were out of touch? Yeah, not so much anymore (at least, not as much), which is why ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’ somehow represents not only a generation, but the awareness of a generation. So aware and connected are our elders (or the elders of this generation) that the ‘90s were tapped for the creation of the soundtrack - namely the talents of Beck Hansen and Nigel Godrich. As figureheads of an industry once fueled by record sales, Beck and Godrich have had to adapt to obstacles like file sharing, and have had to compete with technology in order to keep their art alive. Inasmuch as younger bands take to the current tools like a fish to water, the adaptation to said technology by older musicians (which was in its infancy when Beck’s Loser was a hit) was likely an undertaking. That being said, the depiction of an indie rock band, having to rely solely on live performances and the hope that someone will wear one of their t-shirts at a show, seems a plausible reality for any upstart musician.
Cera’s character plays bass for Sex Bob-Omb, a struggling, second-rate garage trio that spends most of the movie eluded by any real success. The band is otherwise comprised of actors Mark Webber and Allison Pill, who, like Cera, actually perform the music of Sex Bob-Omb for the soundtrack. The songs were penned and co-performed by Beck, himself also performing on his own: an acoustic and full band version of the song Ramona, (named for Pilgrim’s love interest).
Godrich, famed producer for Radiohead, composed the film’s score (not available on this version of the soundtrack). In the meantime, Sex Bob-Omb strums simplistic, choppy, lo-fi offerings like Sex Bob-Omb, Garbage Truck and Threshold, sort of a hipster Cramps collection of rock tunes that weave necessarily through the storyline and play inferior next to the rest of the compilation. This is intentional, although it normally doesn’t pay to cast a main plot device as a “lesser than”, Sex Bob-Omb is constantly at a disadvantage, so it only makes sense that they sound that way.
Billed as the fictitious Crash and The Boys, Broken Social Scene provides the amusingly short I'm So Sad, So Very, Very, Sad and the punky We Hate You Please Die. They also contribute Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl, singer Emily Haines pulling double duty with Metric’s Black Sheep.
Newer bands-turned-characters-in-the-film aside, the hipster vibe is kept up by the acoustically low key Beachwood Sparks, the ‘Nuggets’-inflection of The Black Lips, and the catchy Blood Red Shoes. As appeal for the film spans our connected populace, however, the defunct Plumtree (Scott Pilgrim) and still kicking Frank Black (I Heard Ramona Sing) round out the alternative crowd. Other bands like T-Rex and the Rolling Stones provide a classic element.
Next to the videogame-based comic book surrealism of the film, music is integral to it in such a way that the soundtrack avoids becoming a merchandising ploy. For this reason, it may hold up as the focal point of a generation transitioning into a new decade.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
“WE ARE SEX BOB-OMB! ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!”