This was a high school album on CD that I desperately wanted to own before the credits of the film started to roll. When it comes to music in movies, especially those aimed at young people, no-one did it better than John Hughes. A tastemaker, he wrote characters in his movies that listened to the music he himself enjoyed, which then made the kids in the cinema want to listen to those bands. That self-fulfilling prophecy doesn’t always work because executive producers of soundtracks don’t always get it right. The Romeo & Juliet Official Soundtrack certainly did, effortlessly capturing the alt-playlists of teenagers in the ’90s with Garbage, The Cardigans, and Radiohead. The Craft OST was largely effective, even though most of the bands on the accompanying CD album were included with American teens in mind. Trainspotting OST is the work of someone with a real magpie taste, yet still somehow perfect and apt for the Britpop loving audience. Then there’s the soundtrack album for Scream, which is a strange mixture of alternative rock and techno. In many ways, it shouldn’t work. The movie is clever and hip, but the soundtrack doesn’t quite hit that vibe as effectively. The Scream soundtrack is a playlist for a film in which music seems like an afterthought, something there to push a CD at teens rather than build suspense and atmosphere. It worked though. I own the CD album.
The score of the film is from Marco Beltrami and has the subtlety of a boot up the bum. It doesn’t really contribute well to the atmosphere of the movie, cutting into scenes (pardon the pun) in a loud, aggressive manner. It’s good, fine stuff but for me it doesn’t always benefit the visuals. Take Goblin’s score for Suspiria, for example. It’s an essential component of the film’s DNA. Can you imagine Suspiria without that music? I can’t. Marco Beltrami, a brilliant composer, gets one track on the official soundtrack of Scream (Trouble In Woodsboro and Sidney’s Lament) while the rest of the album is left to the various bands included. A good decision. The bands are an interesting mixture. The Connells (always excellent and thoroughly reliable) contribute Bitter Pill, which isn’t in the film very much at all. Republica’s Drop Dead Gorgeous gets the glory and the iconic death scene with a garage door and an exploding head. Moby gets the fade out into credits moment with First Cool Hive, which is taken from his best album. One of the most unexpected delights of the Scream soundtrack is Soho’s excellent Whisper To A Scream, a cover of the song by The Icicle Works. This was the song that made me want to buy the album. Soho never receive the credit they deserve for their work, which is consistently strong and interesting. Youth of America by Birdbrain is loud and obnoxious, the sort of song that Beavis & Butthead would love. Whisper by Catherine is another standout moment on the soundtrack from a band who were immediately hobbled by their dreadful cover art – a shame as the album this song came from is superb. Perhaps the most famous of all the songs on this album, certainly for fans of the Scream movies, is Red Right Hand by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. This track pops up in all the Screams, the lounge lizard sliminess of the song a somewhat reassuring nod and wink to the original film that spawned a franchise.
I bought this album at Missing in Glasgow, which is where you went for cheap soundtracks to American movies. This was the time where CDs at Tower Records were nearly sixteen quid. Eye wateringly expensive for a high school student whose mother was overworked and underpaid. I played it in the school common room and no-one told me to turn it off, which was always a good sign. It isn’t a classic soundtrack even if the movie itself struck that status, but something about this album still works for me. The strangely random selection of songs chucked onto disc means that of the many things this soundtrack does, being dull is not one of them. I play it in October as a tribute to my taste in the spooky, a build up towards Halloween that not even the Christmas decorations in Tesco can wreck. Overall, it’s a quite good album for a much better movie, and it doesn’t need to be anything else.