A cultural and box office phenomenon in its own country, Brit indie hit “Trainspotting” struck a major chord among England’s brand of Gen X’ers and mainstream moviegoers alike, and spawned a soundtrack that mined gold in the U.K. and U.S. alike.
If the hipness quotient of “Trainspotting” — which raised junkie chic to international consciousness — if not watchdog-group scrutiny — is any indication, optimists expect its creative team’s followup feature, “A Life Less Ordinary,” to attract similar enthusiasm stateside.
The first American film by “Trainspotting’s” director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and producer Andrew McDonald, “A Life Less Ordinary” pairs the troika’s fave leading man, U.K. dreamboat Ewan McGregor, with American screen-siren du jour, Cameron Diaz. Its soundtrack is also loaded with the kind of eclectic mix of cutting-edge alternative and classic pop that made the “Trainspotting” disc a hot item.
The companion LP to “A Life Less Ordinary,” which 20th Century Fox is releasing Oct. 24, was produced by red hot music supervisor Randall Poster (“Kids,” “I Shot Andy Warhol,” the forthcoming “Velvet Goldmine”); and each of the 15 songs are actually featured in the film, a surprisingly rare circumstance in this day and age of “inspired-by” movie-music compilations.
The Innerstate/London Records LP features exclusive new music from MTV poster boy Beck, whose Dust Brothers-produced “Deadweight” is the collection’s first single and video, as well as Gotham dance-rockers Luscious Jackson, Euro alt-rock band Ash, who contribute the title track as a pending single, and Folk Implosion, best known for their “Natural One” contribution to the “Kids” soundtrack.
The album also offers an update of REM’s “Leave,” with new vocals from Michael Stipe and a remix from Johnny Dollar (of Massive Attack production fame), as well as catalog tracks from Squirrel Nut Zippers, Elvis Presley (“Always on My Mind”), Prodigy and Bobby Darin. “Don’t Leave,” by Arista group Faithless, was previously worked as a single by that label and also on modern rock and adult alternative radio.
Poster says he was attracted to working with Boyle because of the way the director uses pop songs in his films. “I was a great fan of ‘Shallow Grave’ and ‘Trainspotting.’ Those movies really knocked me out. I thought he used music really well, really wove it nicely into the fabric of the films.”
For the soundtrack to “A Life Less Ordinary,” Poster says the main trick was to get the right balance of new and older material.
“The thing is, there are two elements in the film,” he says. “There are angels — part of the film is set in heaven — and basically that part of the story is how two angels are sent down to forge this relationship between Ewan and Cameron. Their music is more classic, some of the more classic pop songs; so it was very much by design — that musical element in the film.”
On the other side of the spectrum, says London Records marketing exec Charlotte Blake, are the more modern tunes that moviegoers may be expecting to hear when they go to a Danny Boyle film.
“There’s a ‘Trainspotting’ contingency out there,” Blake says, “who sees the music that comes from films that Danny and Andrew make as being a club-oriented thing. And there is an element of that to this record, with the Underworld track, and Prodigy, and the Sneaker Pimps.”
The biggest commercial prize on the soundtrack is Beck, a recent multiple honoree at the MTV Awards whose two multi-platinum Geffen albums have both won numerous “best-of” nods. Poster says he was especially pleased to have Beck involved with the project.
“Beck had never done an original song for a major motion picture before,” says Poster. “He managed, on an off-week or two, to work on this track (“Deadweight”) for a specific scene in the film. It’s a scene where McGregor has kidnapped Diaz, and he’s calling up trying to demand a ransom, sort of stumbling through it.”
A video for “Deadweight” was shot recently in L.A. with Michelle Gondry serving as the clip’s director. Blake says the Beck song is part of the film’s TV and radio ad campaign, as are the Ash and Faithless tunes, though budgets certainly aren’t at blockbuster levels.
“We’re in the fourth quarter, so you’re limited (by that),” says Blake. “What we’re doing — typical record company — is riding on what (Fox) is doing , and we’re also augmenting what they’re doing. The demographic of the film and the demographic of the record are really right in line with each other.”
Another noteworthy song on the soundtrack is an updated version of REM’s “Leave,” originally found on their “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” album of last year. Poster says the band’s singer, Michael Stipe, brought in some outside help to fit the song to the film. While there are no plans to release the REM song as a single, Blake says if the film and the soundtrack both perform as well as expected, Folk Implosion’s “Kingdom of Lies” is a likely choice for future single release.
“In the films that we’ve done at London Records — and the films I like to (work on) — we try to get involved in projects that push the envelope a little bit, that tend to live on the fringes of the mainstream,” says Poster. “With this soundtrack, we’re presenting a lot of new music. I think the mix of artists is really unique and strong. And we’ve been really selective — every song on the soundtrack is in the movie.”