The Awesomeness Returns:

An Analysis of recently released soundtrack, “Awesome Mix: Vol. 2,”

and the magic it weaves into “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

 

By Cheyenne Sykes

Posted on September 21, 2017 at 12:37 PM PDT

Photo via Marvel Studios

Photo via Marvel Studios

Following the success of the “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” soundtrack, an OST (Original Soundtrack) that went platinum in January of 2015, director and writer James Gunn wanted to create a soundtrack that surpassed the first. And boy, howdy, did he achieve that goal. Gunn found a way to keep the spirit of “Awesome Mix” alive by compiling a list of songs that are both emotionally charged in the scenes they feature in, and are simultaneously catchy. Some of the songs promoted on the soundtrack are songs that may not have ever seen the light of day again if not for this movie. A new generation of moviegoers and comic book fans will have been exposed to music they may or may have never heard otherwise.

The film’s first encounter with the Guardians, begins with them battling a “multi-dimensional” being called Abilisk. As the Guardians battle the beast, everyone’s favorite tree branch, Groot, plugs in an auxiliary cord into a stereo system and begins dancing to ELO’s (Electric Light Orchestra) “Mr. Blue Sky.” Gunn modeled and performed Groot’s dancing himself and was later replaced by special effects and computer animation. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Gunn refers to the song as, “…the perfect song to start the movie because it's really joyous, but there's a really dark underpinning to it.” Contrasting the song is the “joyous” aspect of Groot’s dancing in the foreground, and the “dark underpinning” of the battle in the background.

There are few films that have a really fun opening and are able to hook the audience within the first few minutes with their music. When compared to an OST, film scores are different. A score is typically original instrumental pieces in the film. Whereas an OST is often a compilation of songs from various artists. It’s a subtle way to keep the audience’s attention to the movie while simultaneously setting the mood for an amount of time.

This next segment contains spoilers to scenes that appear later in the film. In the last couple of scenes from the movie, Peter Quill (one of the five guardians) faces his biological father, Ego the Living Planet, in battle, after he reveals to Peter that he killed his mother. As Ego’s planetary body collapses, Yondu (one of the main protagonists, and Peter's father figure) makes a noble sacrifice to save Peter. In the first Guardians movie, the impression given is that Yondu kidnaps Peter. We learn in the second film that he was saving him from a life of captivity by not delivering him to Ego, who would have used him for his own personal gain. During Yondu’s funeral, Cat Stevens’s “Father and Son” plays in the background. The scene itself is emotional, but with that particular song playing, it gives the scene much more depth.

Also included on the soundtrack is an original piece titled, “Guardians Inferno,” co-written by Gunn and composer Tyler Bates. Bates did the scores for the first Guardians film. The song was performed by the independent “band”, The Sneepers, which was actually just Gunn and Bates with accompanying vocals by David Hasselhoff. The song was featured during the end credits scene to lift the ‘mood’ that was set during the end of the film. The music video for the song features members of the cast dancing and lip syncing with the song, adding a humorous element. The video also has dated seventies and eighties themes, like glitter jumpsuits with bell bottoms, neon/flashing marquee signs and of course there’s 80s icon, The Hoff,  that make it cheesy yet entertaining.

A soundtrack can make or break a movie’s overall experience. It’s a fun and interactive way to grab an audience’s attention in the first few minutes, down to the last seconds of a film. In a brief interview with Den of Geek, actor Kurt Russell (who portrayed Ego), stated, “As I told James [Gunn], if you think the 70s and 80s make for good soundtracks, take a look at the 60s! There’s a couple of groups in there that weren’t bad…” James Gunn’s compilation of music shows a perfect balance of upbeat and fun music as contrast with the darker songs. According to Screen Rant, He has already teased the sequel’s future OST and has narrowed his selections down to 180 songs. Hopefully, Gunn will have another compilation of awesome music waiting for audiences on the horizon.