Music Review

Music Review: Various Artists – 90210 Soundtrack

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When you love a show, you definitely want to get your hands on its soundtrack. I have quite a few in my personal collection, not only because I liked the show or the movie in question, but also because soundtracks have the unique quality of bringing together music from different genres and artists that convey a specific set of moods.

Which is why I also have soundtracks to movies and show I’ve never or barely watched.

This was the main reason I decided to give the 90210 Soundtrack a try. First of all, it’s a CW show, so it’s bound to have a great soundtrack. Second of all, in the tradition of other popular teen/young adult shows like Gossip Girl and The OC, 90210 is double bound to have a great soundtrack – it just has to. And, third, everything 90210 related was always equivalent to cool, including its music. So the way I figured it, I didn’t have very much to lose and everything to gain by reviewing this soundtrack, even if I have never watched the new 90210 and barely watched the original.

Yup, you read that right. I only caught a couple of scenes from the original 90210 at my friend’s house and only because her older sister was obsessed with it. Big surprise, she’s now obsessed with the new 90210 – which made her a great candidate to test this soundtrack on.

And so in went the CD into her music sound system.

“What’s that?” her husband asked.

When he heard what it was, he glared at me, angry that I was feeding into his wife’s obsession – but thankfully, he ended up loving the soundtrack too, and so my life has been spared.

The three of us love the concept behind the soundtrack. Usually a soundtrack comes out after a show’s music has garnered enough attention to guarantee sales. However in this case, the music is coming out before it is featured on the show. Also, almost all the songs are available exclusively on this soundtrack, and they won’t be available for purchase individually. Now while that might seem unfair to some – what if I only like a few or even only one of the songs? – it also is a tactic meant to make it clear: they are not out to sell you the songs, but rather, the experience that is 90210.

That’s what I call smart marketing. Are we surprised that the CW is the one to be using it? Didn’t think so.

The first track honor was given to Adele’s “Many Shades of Black”. It’s a great song that carries well that honor, laying a solid foundation to the album’s general ambiance, promising to be unique, laid-back, and fresh at the same time – i.e., all things 90210. I have to admit that I might be slightly biased here since I love Adele, even more after her appearance on Ugly Betty during season three.

As if to prove that 90210 isn’t just about being laid back and cool, the second track by N.E.R.D., “Soldier”, is an upbeat, dynamic song a little on the aggressive side. It reflects the usual N.E.R.D. ability to combine different sounds and styles seamlessly. Perhaps it presages a huge unexpected fight between two great friends?

The third song is a perfect driving song. More specifically, this is the kind of song that would go well with a long drive on an open road on a hot summer day, the car filled with friends, in a convertible with the top down. JET’s “One Hipster One Bullit” is definitely a foot-tapper, and I can’t help but wonder if the scene in question that will feature this song will be a driving scene.

I’m sure it comes to no surprise if I tell you that the fourth song, MuteMath’s “Valium”, is a nostalgic song. So are the following three songs, “I Want You so Bad” from OK Go, “Sierra’s Song” from The All American Rejects, and “A Perfect Tourniquet” by Anberlin – although these three are more upbeat ballads rather than plain nostalgic songs. I don’t think I’m going to listen to MuteMath that much – it’s a nice song, but quite a downer. The other three are already part of my most listened tunes of the week, and at this rate, they are going to be the most listened-to tunes of the month (after Adele and N.E.R.D., of course).

One thing I love about this album is that all its songs convey some form of California cool. As mentioned previously, JET’s “One Hipster One Bullit” is the perfect driving song; so is Sarah Solovay’s “Heart Collide”. Will Dailey’s “You’re So Cold” and Parachute’s “One Small Step” would be the perfect soundtrack to a pool-party, while Owl City’s “Sunburn” and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ “Love Seat” would be a great soundtrack to a walk down the beach.

The album also features the remixed yet unmistakable 90210 main title – the sound of which signaled, for many years, that my friend and I had to not make any noise for the next hour, for fear of facing the ire of her older sister.

There are three songs in particular that stand out: Sarah Solovay’s “Heart Collide”, Adele’s “Many Shade’s of Black” and N.E.R.D.’s “Soldier”, for their freshness as well as the obvious quality that went into their making. They are popular enough to hit a chord with a large audience, without falling into the typical copy-paste, pop song trap.

Even if you don’t like the show, or even if you don’t watch it, this is a great CD to add to your collection. Just like the Gossip Girl soundtrack (OMFGG) reflects New York cool and the One Tree Hill soundtracks reflects North Carolina’s suburban friendliness and family life, the 90210 soundtrack reflects California hip – just like The OC soundtrack did. If you like the show or if you like the California vibe, this is definitely a soundtrack for you.

The only thing missing were the lyrics to the song (I don’t want to wait until I have learned them by heart to start singing along.) and pictures of the performers rather than only of the 90210 cast. And in all honesty, if the episodes are anything close to being as good as these songs, I might be tempted into watching the show.

On a closing note, I can’t help but wonder if hard core 90210 fans will be able to tell what is going to happen in the upcoming season by listening to this soundtrack? My friend’s older sister is convinced that they can, given enough time to decipher all the lyrics. If you happen to be a hard core fan, have purchased the CD, and have an inkling to what may happen, drop me a line!

The 90210 Soundtrack will be released on October 13 in stores and online. Until then, get your fill on their official website.

First posted here on Blogcritics.

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