The Twilight Soundtrack Absolutely Slaps, and This is The Hill Upon Which I Will Die
By Madeline Ward
That Twilight is regularly derided by both critics and viewers is one of the greatest injustices of our time. Never before has a film captured the pure angst of the teenage experience with such finesse. Twilight was the catalyst that spawned several successful teen film franchises, not to mention the existence of 50 Shades of Grey, for which horny housewives globally will be eternally indebted. Much can be said about the directorial genius of Catherine Hardwicke, who was shamefully replaced by a series of mediocre male directors- but this isn’t about that. This is about the Twilight soundtrack, which is also the soundtrack of my coming of age.
The Twilight soundtrack was the first CD I ever bought. At the time I was a Twilight obsessive, greedily consuming any and all Twilight related media. The soundtrack established a taste in music that remains today, whilst also enabling access to a world of music that was previously the domain of people that were much cooler than I. The soundtrack of the first film boasts an impressive line up: Iron and Wine, Paramore, Blue Foundation and Linkin Park, amongst others. Though the soundtrack crosses boundaries of genre and style, all tracks are unashamedly moody, a theme that would continue through the later films. The soundtrack debuted on the Billboard charts at number 1, at the time the first to do so since the release of 8 Mile in 2003, and was supervised by Alexandra Patsavas, who previously soundtracked the O.C, Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy, all iconic in their own right.
The soundtrack was commercially and critically successful, and it’s often used as the saving grace of an otherwise embarrassing cultural phenomenon: but I propose that the Twilight soundtrack, and others like it, should be viewed as more than as saviours of “trash” film and television. Consider the following: Twilight, Gossip Girl and forms of media like them are regularly derided as trash. They also count women, particularly young women, as their primary demographic. It’s no secret that the common cultural tastes of young women and girls are perceived as less worthy than those of their male counterparts. Coincidence? I think not.
The Twilight soundtrack introduced its audience to bands that may have otherwise been inaccessible to young girls. Not only were these bands now a part of a phenomena that could attribute its success to teen girls, they were actively taking part in it. Who could say that girls couldn’t like rock music when Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction wrote a song for the Twilight soundtrack?
For me, New Moon is the best album of the series: bringing together music from Death Cab for Cutie, Grizzly Bear, The Killers, Thom Yorke and Bon Iver, the track listing perfectly encapsulates the mood of a generation of Sad Indie Girls. Most of the songs on the soundtrack are hard to find through the artists own spotify profiles, existing instead in playlists lovingly curated by Twilight fans. The parallel between these and almost identical playlists made by men who would otherwise deride something like Twilight is interesting, to say the least.
As much as I continue to adore these films, it would be amiss of me to pretend that they are somehow above criticism. Twilight has been subjected to feminist critiques of its own, pretty much all of which are valid. I would however argue that Twilight’s cultural worth is not solely in itself as a film, but in the effect that it had on its largely female fan base. Through Twilight I found musical liberation, as well as the firm knowledge that no man could ever say that he has better tastes than me, most especially when his favourite artists contributed to the Twilight soundtrack.