January 08, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Think soundtrack glut was a problem last year? Pop samplers posing as movie souvenirs may proliferate further yet in ’99. Encouraged by the success of City of Angels, Armageddon, and The Wedding Singer, studios and labels are scrambling to package whatever platinum musicians their checkbooks will lure. But ”everyone’s chasing the same artists right now,” laments Dominic Griffin, soundtrack columnist for the trade magazine HITS. ”They’re releasing too many. It’s gonna have to level out this year.”

Tell it to the marketers of upcoming teen-targeted films like Anywhere But Here, Varsity Blues, Cruel Intentions, Never Been Kissed, and Killing Mrs. Tingle, each currently vying to round up an album’s worth of big-name alterna-poppers. Also soliciting the same market will be several television soundtracks: A second Friends set is in the works, though the first wasn’t a smash, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity, and even King of the Hill will get their own albums, too.

The Neve Campbell-Matthew Perry vehicle Three to Tango has lined up neo-swingers like Brian Setzer, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Ron Howard’s Ed TV is expected to sport a potential hit from Jon Bon Jovi. Phil Joanou’s Entropy has U2 playing themselves on and offstage, making the band a good bet for the soundtrack. On the retro front, Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach have remade ”I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” for the Austin Powers sequel. And more thesps hope to follow Jennifer Love Hewitt’s warbling example: Minnie Driver, reported to be seeking a record deal, is cowriting and singing a tune in At Satchem Farm, while David Spade will cover Neil Diamond’s ”Brother Love” for Lost and Found.

John Williams’ Star Wars prequel score album probably won’t be sullied by pop songs. But other composers may follow James Horner, who adapted his Titanic theme into a Celine Dion ditty. The venerable Elmer Bernstein, scorer for The Wild, Wild West, may cowrite a song with star Will Smith — auguring a historic Magnificent Seven-meets-Men in Black mix that might stand out from the soundtrack traffic jam.

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