We take a trip back to the millennium with the scores that made it, from Requiem for a Dream to American Psycho
Let’s cast our minds back to a significant year, the year 2000: the Spice Girls broke up for good (sob), the Tate Modern first opened its doors to the public, the Playstation 2 was born (and so was Willow Smith), Britney Spears released her smash hit “Oops!…I Did it Again” and the Y2K bug failed to kill the internet like everyone thought it would. However, it was the film world that really shook up and redefined pop culture, offering up a slew of iconic soundtracks that we would revisit time and time again. From the witching-hour ambience of psychological thriller Requiem for a Dream, to Air’s feverish score for The Virgin Suicides, the millennium was a time when music and film collided to change everything. With that in mind, here are five cult film soundtracks that defined this creative moment in time.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
If you ever want to feel as if you’ve literally entered the gates of hell, then watch this film. Psychologically disturbing from start to finish, Darren Aronofsky’s iconic Requiem for a Dream portrays drug addiction in all of its messy, tragic and toxic glory, without even a hint of rose tint. However, it’s the dramatic, string-soaked sounds of Clint Mansell’s composition “Lux Aeterna” that really keeps your heart in your throat throughout, meaning that you’ll forever associate the drug heroin with spectacularly icy choir sounds and melodramatic violin. It’s a soundtrack that has since made an enduring impact on those that followed, with “Lux Aeterna” constantly featuring in trailers for other films, including Babylon A.D., The Da Vinci Code, I Am Legend, Sunshine, and Valley of Flowers.
When I was a kid, I used to think being a music journalist would be exactly like it is in Almost Famous, which shows 15-year-old William Miller partying on the road with a fictional band called Stillwater for Rolling Stone (spoiler: it isn’t). Acting as the polar opposite of Requiem for a Dream, it’s a film brimming with hedonistic exuberance and romanticism for rock n roll’s peak era, and true to nature, it comes packaged with an incredible soundtrack full of rock n roll greats. From the dreamy sounds of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” to the slow, psychedelic vibes of The Beach Boys’ “Feel Flows” and The Who’s power-packed anthem “Sparks”, it’s a soundtrack that embodies the feel-good attitude of the early-70s and wills you to step into a time machine to go back there.
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES
Sofia Coppola’s dark and whimsical directorial debut The Virgin Suicides might have technically come out at the tail end of 1999, but its full soundtrack was released at the turn of the millennium. In it, French duo Air invented a new sound for suburban dysfunction and defined an era with their beautifully feverish original film score. When the band spoke to us about the iconic soundtrack last year, they explained, “I think the real spirit of the soundtrack is this fascination with death and with having your spirit floating when you die and how you may suddenly feel free and liberated from earth, from all you are and the adult’s world that you actually hate. I’ve never wanted to kill myself and I’ve never felt that bad, but I think the music in the film is a lot about this idea.”
“American Psycho is the gift that keeps on giving,” the film’s screenwriter Guinevere Turner told us last year. “Literally, it’s been years since that movie was in theatres and new generations are discovering it – Kanye did a video that was a spoof of it and Huey Lewis did a spoof of a scene…it’s kind of just amazing.” However, its legacy extends far beyond its incredible, oft-quoted screenplay. With a soundtrack scored by John Cale, the film is positively dripping in musical perfection, from New Order’s “True Faith” to The Cure’s “Watching Me Fall” and Dope’s heavy metal version of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Right Round”. My personal favourite, however, is the inclusion of David Bowie’s breathtakingly eerie “Something in the Air”.
In moments, the Pete Tong-produced soundtrack to The Beach might be considered a little cheesy (highlights include All Saints’ “Pure Sures”, Moby’s “Porcelain” and The Chemical Brothers’ “Out of Control”) but it still remains hugely iconic, mainly because it manages to musically embody a particular era with such finesse and accuracy. With its dulcet, dreamy tones and sweeping electronic symphonies, it also reflects the island itself, which is as close to true paradise as you could possibly imagine – or so it seems at first glance. What the soundtrack does is lulls you into a false sense of security, allowing the eventual sinister events to creep up on you like a shark in dark waters. Don’t be fooled!