A VERY SHE & HIM CHRISTMAS (ALBUM REVIEW)

by ALEX NAGORSKI

So here’s the thing.

Christmas is easily my favorite holiday. There’s nothing that gives me a greater sense of warmth and joy than walking along Fifth Avenue and being mesmerized by the stories the window displays at Saks and Bergdorf. When I was little, I always insisted on trying to count the lights on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and taking pictures with the FAO Schwarz employees dressed as Nutcrackers. Trust me, they loved it.

However, when it comes to holiday music, I usually want to Van Gogh my ears off. There’s really only so much “cheer” you can get from Julie Andrews narrating the birth of Jesus before you want to burn down the manger, you know?

Then came along Zooey Deschanel. Cute, quirky, perfect little Zooey Deschanel. Just cozily sitting there on the cover of her band She & Him’s new Christmas album, gazing somewhere to the left with her Powerpuff Girls eyes open wide enough to seem like she was watching old Claus make his way down her chimney. “Goddamnit,” I thought to myself the moment I saw the image. “She’s going to exorcise the Grinch right out of me.”

And I was right. You literally need to be the world’s most soulless human being to put on A Very She & Him Christmas and not have it immediately melt your heart. I guarantee that if someone had just played one track off the record for Ebenezer Scrooge, he could have bypassed that whole time-traveling ghost fiasco.

From the moment the album kicks off with Zooey’s illustrious vocals singing about “frosted window panes” in “The Christmas Waltz,” a glow is ignited warm enough to feel like you’re sipping hot chocolate by a burning Yule log in a Zales commercial.

A Very She & Him Christmas is comprised of 12 Christmas standards. And while most Christmas albums are filled with songs with countless references to religion, this record is (thank god!) made up entirely of holiday songs sans any shout outs to Bethlehem or the big J.

Instrumentally, the album uses little more than a ukulele. The result is a refreshingly organic take on music that has been recorded and re-recorded by countless artists for decades. Yet somehow, Deschanel and Ward have crafted a unique spin on these classic songs while simultaneously injecting them with that vintage flair that makes them so familiar.

Not since Judy Garland debuted it in Meet Me In St. Louis has “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” sounded so sweet and honest. Deschanel proves that the song doesn’t need to be “decorated” with riffs every two seconds to showcase the singer’s vocal strength (sit down, Christina Aguilera). By stripping it back to basics, She & Him have returned the tenderness that has been lacking from contemporary interpretations of the song.

Most people discovered Zooey’s enchanting voice when she crooned “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in the film Elf. On A Very She & Him Christmas, she revisits the song – except she switches verses and takes over the male part while Ward sings the female’s. The most up-tempo track on the album, this twist on the classic song had me hankering for Zooey to drug my eggnog and take advantage of me so badly.

The tranquil quality of tracks like “Silver Bells,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” provide for a soothing soundtrack to enjoy while quietly cuddled up under a warm blanket. But if that’s not really your thing and you’d rather try to score under the mistletoe at your neighbor’s ugly Christmas sweater themed party, crank up the more upbeat cuts like “Sleigh Ride,” “Little Saint Nick” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and your bells will be jinglin’ in no time.

There’s really no word that describes A Very She & Him Christmas better than “snuggly.” Listening to the record is like being given a Golden Labrador puppy on Christmas morning that you name Kisses because he can’t stop crawling all over and licking you. It releases the same endorphins you would get as a kid when you realized that the cookies you left out for Santa on Christmas Eve were gone in the morning. It’s just the perfect holiday treat from start to finish.

While it may only be the beginning of November, Deschanel and Ward have released an instant classic that has me counting down until Christmas with the same giddy gingerbread glee I haven’t felt since I was a child.

A Very She & Him Christmas was released on October 24. (iTunes)

Originally published on MuuMuse

Zooey Deschanelegend Frolics Through the Hundred Acre Wood

by ALEX NAGORSKI

Remember when Tom Cruise jumped up and down on Oprah’s couch about how much he loved Joey Potter (sorry, Katie Holmes)? Well, had that not been a meticulously crafted PR stunt, it would have actually been really endearing. Endearing in that so-elated-that-of-course-you’ll-act-like-a-baboon-on-Oprah’s-furniture kind of way.

Well, imagine Williamsburg on the day that it was announced that Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward were collaborating again – this time for the soundtrack to Disney’s new film adaptation of Winnie The Pooh. So many ecstatic hipsters. So much broken eco-friendly thrift store furniture.

Zooey is to hipsters as Jesus is to Catholics or as Christina Aguilera is to herself. Disney’s decision to select her as the vocal muse for arguably their most nostalgic film to date (I dare you to tell me you didn’t tear up during that trailer) was brilliant. Not only because of her revered status among the adults who have so many childhood memories associated with the Winnie The Pooh franchise, but also because of her new-wave vintage sound.

In this new Pooh film, Disney has gone the opposite route than it has with its recent releases. Instead of creating an entirely CGI world like in Tangled, Winnie The Pooh is a return to classic Disney: 2D animation and music that doesn’t sound like a failed American Idol winner’s debut ballad. Who better than to provide the sound for this reverting to old-school agenda than Zooey, the reincarnation of 60’s female pop?

Upon first hearing Zooey’s take on the classic Pooh theme, I was overtaken by that warm, fuzzy feeling that you get when you’re in a play-pit with multiple puppies or when you realize you’re next to Patrick Dempsey at a urinal and can take a sneak peek. To hear Zooey’s gentle alto voice singing “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff” is like a spoonful of honey in itself. Crack-infused, smooth, delicious honey.

For the majority of the tracks, Zooey merely provides rich background vocals. Her little doo-wops and scooby-doo-bops create a near flawless harmony with the film’s bouncy and sunshine-tinged score.
Zooey and M. Ward also contribute an original song, “So Long.” Interestingly enough, the duo don’t cite the song under their band’s name (She & Him), but rather credit themselves eponymously.

“So Long” has all the essential ingredients of a typical She & Him song; a blend of indie surf rock with lo-fi ‘60s pop. Throw in the sugarcoated, cutesy and kid-friendly lyrics (“Well I could be the blossom / And you could be the bee / And then I could call you honey”), and you have the perfect new theme for the film.

Now, I’m not saying that I made sure I was up at midnight on Tuesday when the soundtrack came out on iTunes so I could buy it as soon as it was released. I’m also not saying that I listened to it while cuddling with a stuffed Eeyore in my bed before falling asleep. I’m also definitely not saying that I teared up. But HYPOTHETICALLY, if any of these things were true, it would mean that (like in the criminally underrated genius film, Your Highness) Zooey hit a home-run with her contributions to this movie.

Moral of the story: Zooey is the poo(h). So take a whiff. And don’t forget to bring your ski masks to the theaters this weekend when you go see Winnie The Pooh. This way nobody will see you ugly-cry.

Originally published on MuuMuse

COMING TO YOUR TV THIS FALL

The top 5 new television shows coming in the 2011-2012 season that you need to watch.
By Alex Nagorski

TV
 
1. The X Factor (FOX Wednesdays & Thursdays, 8 pm)

The UK’s ultimate reality singing competition is finally making it stateside. Guaranteeing the winner a $5 million recording contract, this show promises the largest prize ever in the history of reality TV. So how is it different than American Idol or The Voice? The X Factor divides its contestants into 4 groups: males from 12-15, females from 12-25, singers over 25, and vocal groups of any age.

Hosting the show will be Eden’s Crush/Pussycat Dolls front woman and failed solo artist Nicole Scherzinger (did you even know she officially released her umpteenth attempt at a lead single last week?)  and model-turned-British TV personality Steve Jones. On the judges’ panel will be hit making songwriter and producer L.A. Reid, the man responsible for launching the careers of such musicians as Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Pink, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. Joining him will be Cheryl Cole, otherwise thought of as the pop star known everywhere in the world except for America (but it looks like that’s about to change!). And last but not least, The X Factor reunites original Idol judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul.

  

2. Ringer (THE CW Tuesdays, 9 pm)

There was a while after Buffy ended that I was scared Sarah Michelle Gellar would never get any work that wasn’t a PG-13 remake of a cheesy Asian horror flick. Then she had to go stop acting for a while because she was “pregnant.” Like I get that you’re having a baby and all but why punish your fans? So rude.

Originally intended for CBS, Ringer reunites Sarah Michelle God-der with The CW, the network that was home to the first five seasons of Buffy. It looks like the perfect over-acted melodrama that you’ll secretly plan your night around while politely declining to go out because you “already made plans with another friend.”

  

3. Up All Night (NBC Wednesdays, 8 pm)

I personally feel that Christina Applegate is one of the most underrated female comedians around. She could totally be in the same league as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig if given the chance. I mean, hello! Her hysterical guest-starring role on Friends made for two of the best episodes of the entire series (yeah, I went there).

Hence, I could not be more excited for a new (non-Samantha Who) sitcom from her. ESPECIALLY since she’s being joined by Arrested Development star Will Arnett and SNL/Bridesmaids actress Maya Rudolph. While the storyline of this show hardly seems revolutionary, I have full faith that Up All Night will have the potential to join the rankings of Modern Family as one of the funniest shows on television this fall.

 

4. The New Girl (FOX Tuesdays, 9 pm)

Confession: I would totally go straight for Zooey Deschanel. Like, name someone cuter. I dare you. You can’t. It’s just not possible. Between her vintage dresses, sultry singing voice, quirky humor and girl-next-door bangs, she’s just the most adorable hipster goddess in the biz.  

The New Girl looks as though it’s really going to launch Zooey to national mega-stardom. The trailer showcases her impeccable comedic chops and it’s hard to think that she won’t be getting film offers left and right after this show premieres. And the fact that it’s coming on directly after Glee, still one of the hottest shows on TV today, can do nothing but help kick it off as the “it” sitcom of next season.

 

5. The River (ABC Mid-Season)

If you know me at all, you know that I love horror movies. That being said, I’ve always been annoyed that horror is a genre that has yet to successfully transition out of movie theaters onto a smaller screen. Sure, it’s been attempted a few times, but I have yet to see a consistently frightening TV show that makes me feel the way a good horror movie does.

I’m hoping that’s all going to change with The River. While it’s not entirely a horror show, it has that same element of suspense and looming threat that all of the characters’ lives are constantly on the line. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by that dude who brought us Paranormal Activity, The River promises to be a smart, Lost meets Anaconda hybrid that will send chills up and down your spine every week. Count me in. 

 

Originally published on Crazytown Blog

She & Him’s "Volume Two"

2008 was a year that produced a remarkable amount of great musical firsts. Within this twelve month period, artists such as Vampire Weekend, The Ting Tings, Santigold, Ida Maria, and The Black Ghosts all released debut albums that challenged the fine line between mainstream pop and rock, incorporating various cross-genre influences to make refreshingly unique, beautiful, and cohesive sounds. Fleet Foxes capitalized on the craze for dreamy music nostalgic of artists of the past, as did two soulful divas Duffy and Adele, the latter of whom went on to win two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Pop Female Vocal Performance for her hit single “Chasing Pavements.” Pop music found a new rebel chick in Katy Perry, while the (now) international phenomenon known as Lady GaGa just danced her way to the top of the charts, becoming an immediate icon and staple of pop culture. And in the indie world, true stars were born with the release of She & Him’s “Volume One,” a masterpiece of contemporary folk music.


With the immense amount of success acts such as these experienced, it is no wonder these artists were thrust into the mainstream spotlight with high demands for more. And while 2008 may have treated them kindly, prior success does not necessarily guarantee longevity for these artists. MGMT, for instance, had one of the most successful, commercially and critically acclaimed records of the year, “Oracular Spectacular.” Their rise to fame in such a short period of time was an incredibly rare (and well deserved) feat, especially for an indie band. Songs such as “Time To Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” “Weekend Wars,” and “Kids” were impossible to avoid, playing on loop everywhere from the radio to television and film soundtracks to commercials.


Now, two years later, MGMT is releasing their long awaited follow-up album, “Congratulations,” proving that sometimes having too much hype surrounding a record’s release can be a formula for a sophomore slump. As a result, the only thing worth congratulating about the band’s new album is that it shows that they are not afraid of hyper-broadening their horizons and trying new sounds — although they should have really stuck with the one that launched them in the first place.


Boundaries are tricky things when it comes to music. While, on the one hand, artists certainly want to evolve their sounds so as not to duplicate their previous efforts, they also don’t want to aim so far off the map of what they’ve done that they lose their cultural relevance and become one-hit wonders. An artist like Kelly Clarkson, for example, evolved her sound from the soulful ballads of her first album “Thankful” to the catchy pop/rock anthems on her follow-up “Breakaway.” The reason this worked is because while she did try something new, it was a natural progression; the roots can be traced to her earlier work with songs such as “Miss Independent” or “Low,” where clearly the seed had been planted and was waiting to develop into something bigger. Bands such as MGMT, however, don’t succeed in their efforts because they start from scratch and aim for the stars by picking entirely brand new musical directions, hoping that their fans will be on board for the journey.


The reason She & Him’s eagerly anticipated new record “Volume Two” is so successful is because, while it is a clear musical evolution for band members Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, it reminds us why we fell in love with this dynamic duo in the first place. Yes, this album is clearly more produced to have a more mainstream radio friendly effect than its predecessor; it is still a sophisticated, smart, and elegant record that would perfectly suit the smallest coffee shops while still easily filling stadiums and concert arenas.


Unlike MGMT, She & Him’s sophomore attempt is a successful and clear progression of their previous work, making music that is new while still within a recognizable realm of their trademark sound. Although mainstream audiences may be more inclined to pick up this new release, the album holds that same quirky and sentimental quality that makes it feel enough under the radar that Zooey is singing to solely you that the last one possessed. And while the band is basking in more critical acclaim than ever before and growing rapidly in popularity (their spring tour sold out in minutes), it is important to remember that sometimes small things can come in big packages too.


The record opens with “Thieves,” a melancholy song about two lovers mourning the end of their relationship while dealing with loneliness and new loves. Zooey’s raw vocals capture the vulnerability that come with displaying this type of exposed emotion perfectly, as she attempts to focus on the silver lining while lamenting her loss. Although it is one of the only truly downtempo songs on the album, it is the perfect first track because it picks up exactly where Volume One left off, creating a launch pad from which the rest of the songs can emerge.


Next comes lead single “In The Sun,” the poppiest song on the record. A perfect surf-pop track, it is impossible not to bop along and want to dance to this sweet little number. Lyrically, the song is simply cute and a little on the cliché side, but Zooey executes it in a way that makes you truly believe her advice when she sings “well alright, it’s okay, we all get the slip sometimes.” Accompanied by a music video that combines the sass and playfulness of “Baby One More Time” with the indie quirk and flair of films like Juno or even 500 Days of Summer, Deschanel and Ward have written an undeniably delightful, feel-good song that’ll leave you humming and tapping your toes without you even noticing it.


On Volume One, She & Him sounded like a band that had stepped into a time machine and came here from the 1960s to provide us with soft, pretty folk songs. On Volume Two, the concept of the time machine still applies, yet this time the record is composed primarily of folk songs that lean more in the direction of 60’s pop than country. Half way through listening to the album, I was expecting a “Leader of the Pack” cover, simply because it is that particular alternative dream-pop sound that this album captures so flawlessly.


Songs like “Don’t Look Back” provide an infectious piano score which support Zooey’s multi-layered background harmonies to her daring vocals. Vocally, it is tracks like this one that make Volume Two a clearly more evolved sound for the band. Zooey truly lets herself have fun sliding around between octaves in an unarguably charming fashion, constantly leaving her listener upset that the song is over by the time it has ended. Similarly, “Over It Over Again,” a highlight of the album, finds She & Him emulating their best Everly Brothers’ sound providing a lush and moody melody followed by soft yet driving percussion while Zooey’s voice penetrates your ear and you start to pray that it never leaves.


Other tracks such as “Lingering Still,” “Gonna Get Along Without You Now,” and “Ridin’ In My Car” provide the listener with aural candy which only has the side effects of a soothed-out soul. The album closes with “If You Can’t Sleep,” a gorgeous track interwoven with intricate and supremely beautiful yet haunting vocals. “And in your dreams, I’ll touch your cheek and lay my head on your shoulder, goodbye shadows, goodbye shadows,” Zooey croons. The song comes full circle from “Thieves,” ending the record with another downtempo piece that gives the sense that even though questions may remain unanswered, at the end of the day all that really matters is the love one has.


In 2008, the music world was truly gifted with the emerging presence of She & Him. In 2010, the band is back in full force, ready to infiltrate your ears with their vintage new wave sound. In addition to their immaculate music, their lyrics are often incredibly complex and philosophical, making their audiences truly listen to and ponder their music. Volume Two cites everything from Greek mythology to politics to lost youth to forbidden love to puppy love. If today’s music scene were a hot summer’s day, She & Him would be the cool glass of lemonade – a classic that provides a much needed alternative to the heat, refreshing and rejuvenating you. Personally, while the summer can be wonderful, I’d rather stay in the shade with my lemonade and slowly sip it to make sure I’ve drank every last drop.

by.Alexander.Nagorski.

Like it? Buy it here

"500 Days Of Summer" Movie + Soundtrack Review

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True life: We’re in a recession. Talk about the worst possible time to graduate. Nobody is hiring and all those years of unpaid internships that made you feel like Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada mean nothing. Impressive resume … too bad it’s worthless. At this rate, it feels like you need to be a Rhodes Scholar to be one of those dog walkers with eighteen leashes wrapped around your wrists and pooper scoopers in hand in Central Park.

Yes, times are tough. Which is why when I recommend that you spend another $25, you’ll probably just laugh at me. After all, $25 is enough to buy nearly a month’s worth of Ramen noodle dinners. With meals so scarce ever since you moved to the outer boroughs to escape Manhattan’s crazy housing costs (even though you’re still paying over $700 a month and setting your quarters aside for laundry) and every swipe of your debit card triggers anxiety that you might be hit by one more of those god-awful $35 overdraw fees, penny-saving has become your only means of survival in this big bad economy.

However, if you spend $25 on anything this month, spend it on these two items: a ticket to go see Fox Searchlight’s new film 500 Days Of Summer, and its accompanying soundtrack. Reuniting indie darlings Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel (the duo previously appeared together in 2001’s Manic) and directed by newcomer Marc Webb, this unconventional love story is possibly the most honest depiction of a romantic relationship to come out of Hollywood ever. While movies such as The Notebook act as fantasy representations of the love that people long for but seldom truly experience, 500 Days Of Summer serves as a reminder of what love really is, allowing anyone who has ever had his or her heart broken to relate to it.

The film tells the story of Tom (Gordon-Levitt), an aspiring architect who put his dreams on hold to make money as a greeting cards writer. Enter Summer (Deschanel), the woman of his dreams … or so he believes. At the very start of the film, an anonymous narrator brilliantly explains the contrasting characters:

“The boy, Tom, grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met ‘the one.’ This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total misreading of the movie The Graduate. The girl, Summer, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parents’ marriage, she’d only loved two things: the first was her long, dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and feel nothing.”

A bit of foreshadowing about Summer’s ability to detach from loved things and loved ones easily? I think so!

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that the love between Tom and Summer is one- sided. Summer clearly has strong feelings for Tom as well, no matter how much she tries to use her emotional walls to shield herself from them. This is made most apparent when, after a fight, she comes over to Tom’s apartment to apologize, although she insists they’re “just friends.” Her definition of what a relationship is does not correspond to Tom’s, creating a major dilemma in whatever pending label-less relationship transaction is occurring between the two of them.

What strikes me the most about this film is that it constantly plays off huge differences. Since the characters are polar opposites of one another, they offer a fascinating contrast. The movie jumps forward and backward in time, with the scenes opening up like chapters, each one labeled according to which of the 500 days of Tom’s infatuation for Summer it was. Going back and forth from when the two are a couple to when they have broken up allows the audience to view their “happy” days through a critical lens not often put to use during a romantic film. Knowing that they break up from the very beginning, the viewer can look for signs pointing to their looming downfall that Tom was too blinded by love to see.

The aftermath of a year and a half of a love gone awry is captured beautifully and accurately as the film pans from shots contrasting when Tom was content to when he was miserable and trying to win Summer back. Each scene of pleasure is immediately followed by a scene of pain, providing us with a harshly realistic “before” and “after” portrait of a bruised man. The morning after they have sex for the first time, for example, Tom is on top of the world and even breaks out into a dance sequence to Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams.” This campy and overly ecstatic scene sharply comes to an end when we see Tom walking out of an elevator in clothes that are clearly tattered and unwashed, with a sullen “I-haven’t-slept-in-two-weeks” look on his face.

Webb also does a fabulous job of making the viewers see Summer through Tom’s eyes. When Tom is describing her to his friends, for instance, it is not him that we see on screen, but rather the specific close-ups of Summer that display the fine details about her that his voiceover describes. A particularly memorable moment is when Tom and Summer first meet and a montage of Summer close-ups occur while Tom daydreams about her “heart shaped birthmark” and “cute laugh.” Later in the film, the same montage is shown except this time we hear Tom’s voice complaining how he hates her “cockroach shaped birthmark” and “annoying laugh.” This shows how neurologically he began to rip apart everything he loved about her in the first place. Even so, the film paints Summer in such a light that it is nearly impossible for audience members not to be in the same boat as Tom and fall in love with her too, making him an even more relatable character – because in some way, we too know what it feels like to long after this woman.

The film received a standing ovation and its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, making clear that it will not soon be forgotten. Similarly, its soundtrack sounds like someone sent in a request to TinyMixTapes.com to create a playlist of music with the ability to change your life. Webb carefully hand selected all the music for the film by what he calls “narrating through lyrics,” which results in a 16-track compilation that when listened to sequence, unfolds the entire film before your eyes.

The heaviest influence on this soundtrack is clearly The Smiths, one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Although they were a band for only a very brief stint (1982 – 1987 to be exact), their influence is undeniable. My personal favorite track of theirs, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” is actually the song that makes Tom’s character really fall for Summer in the first place. The song is playing loudly from Tom’s headphones while he and Summer are riding in an elevator together, which prompts Summer to comment that Tom has “good taste in music” before she starts singing along. It’s that moment where if it were a cartoon, Tom’s jaw would literally drop to the floor and he’d have to force himself to physically pick it back up.

The soundtrack also features another classic from The Smiths, “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.” The song’s longing lyrics and melancholy instrumentals are sprinkled throughout the film, emphasizing this haunting tale, which is essentially the story of wanting something out of one’s reach. While the soundtrack does include the original, it also closes with a cover of this song by none other than the lead herself, Zooey Deschanel. Her band, She & Him, a two-man group with monster of folk M.Ward, released one of the most exquisite albums of 2008, so having them cover The Smiths for the film made perfect sense. What makes this new version work is that it is not a carbon copy of the original, but is instead a reworked version of the track. The instrumentals are far simpler, giving the song a raw, stripped down, organic sound to it. Zooey’s vocals have also never seemed so vulnerable, as at one point it truly sounds like she may be crying while singing. It’s an incredibly dark yet beautiful reinterpretation of a song that could easily in itself be the soundtrack to a broken heart.

The Smiths are not the only music legends featured on the album. An often overlooked Simon & Garfunkel track entitled “Bookends” sneaks into the tracklisting between stellar tracks by Regina Spektor (“Hero”) and Wolfmother (“Vagabond”). Clocking in at under one minute and twenty seconds, the song serves as a testament to the genius of this iconic duo. It manages to be both soft and incredibly powerful—and, at the same time, incredibly heart wrenching. The song is also perfectly placed in the film during a pivotal moment of the plot, and it is here that Webb’s “narrating through lyrics” belief truly comes into focus.

Australian newcomers The Temper Trap deliver the catchiest song on the record with “Sweet Disposition,” an uptempo rock track that would have fit perfectly on the soundtrack to the 90’s film Cruel Intentions alongside “Every Me, Every You” by Placebo and “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim. Carla Bruni, the model-turned-singer-turned-wife-of-the-French-president, contributes “Quelqu’un M’a Dit,” an eerie and gloomy song of despair. Although the lyrics are in French, Bruni’s emotions speak louder than words, making the song sound like you’re listening to an aural guidebook to shattered hope. Webb chose this song because since there was such a communication barrier between Tom and Summer, he believed it was only appropriate to select a song that conveyed feelings rather than understandable words. Kudos for the symbolism, my friend.

The album also contains the undoubtedly best song Regina Spektor has recorded thus far, “Us,” from her Soviet Kitsch album. In fact, the piano part in that song inspired the score for the actual film. Also featured is an acoustic cover of The Pixies’ classic “Here Comes Your Man,” performed by Canadian singer/songwriter Meaghan Smith. Her take on the song, like She & Him’s take on The Smiths, is a soothingly fresh homage to the original, again taking something old to make it new again. “Here Comes Your Man” is actually featured twice, as the first time is during a drunken karaoke scene in which Tom gets up on stage to sing in order to impress Summer. Ah, the things we do for attention sometimes.

So, what do you get when you combine a sharply witty and honest screenplay with two of Hollywood’s most gifted young actors and add a soundtrack full of musical gems that will surely land it on numerous “best of 2009” lists at the end of the year? The answer: 500 Days Of Summer. It is hands down the best film of the year – yes, I’m saying “year” because I really doubt anything else will come out in the next five months even half as intelligent and entertaining as this movie. It’s brilliantly acted, phenomenally written and stealthily directed. Once it comes out, it will definitely become a worn-out DVD in my collection from watching it far more than I probably should. The soundtrack completes the unbeatable indie movie-soundtrack trilogy, placing it alongside the Garden State and Juno soundtracks. A great film, out-of this-world music—that’s 500 Days Of Summer. You can’t ask for more bang for your $25.

by.Alex.Nagorski.
Like it? Buy the soundtrack here
500 Days Of Summer is currently in theaters