If I Stay Soundtrack Has Heart and Range

If we’re being honest, movies about music can go terribly wrong. Movies about teenage love and music can go ever more wrong. But somehow this summer’s If I Stay avoided every cliché it was close to falling into and maintained a top-notch soundtrack that steers clear of pretension and condescension.

The movie itself lives between two music worlds: that of modern punk rock and that of classical cello, so the soundtrack takes up both sides of the story nicely. It’s comprised of originals from the movie’s featured fake band Willamette Stone, who aren’t half bad. Their songs are rock revival with a tint of punk, but there could be a few more elements of surprise here and there in their work. The lyricism falls just above the cut, making for some terribly catchy and exciting music.

There’s some Sonic Youth, some Beck, some Ben Howard, and a beautiful Ane Brun cover of Beyoncé‘s “Halo” that just might beat out the original. All told, it’s a cohesive soundtrack for the movie. The movie has soaring high points immediately juxtaposed by crippling lows, and the soundtrack reflects that. It could jump from Ben Howard’s soothing “Promise” to the punky “Never Coming Down” from Willamette Stone. But somehow it works. Plus the extended version of the soundtrack throws in three gorgeous classical cello pieces at the end.

Where much of the film is concerned with punk rock and punk rock history (and classical music history, for that matter), the soundtrack doesn’t show off. A music history novice can easily understand this soundtrack. It’s like a quick intro to punk rock and classical at the same time, with familiar songs and sounds interspersed to keep the listener comfortable.

The combination of original tracks mixed with tracks from established artists makes for a really exciting soundtrack. It fits the gloomy Portland, OR setting of the film and is perfectly suited to the film.

2 Comments

  1. Wakana

    August 29, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I appreciate that the production decided to interpose CGM’s face onto a real cellist instead of having her finger aimlessly around. Love the combo of classical and contemporary

  2. Lauren Silvestri

    August 30, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I blew off this movie and its soundtrack, but after reading this I definitely want to check it out for myself!

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