August 04, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

We review the hottest summer soundtracks

Thanks to a popcorn season full of mincing Pirates and designer-clad Devils, the summer box office is looking up. But where is our hit hot-weathers-oundtrack jam? It could come courtesy of several dozen limbless, high-altitude reptiles. We’re talking, of course, about Snakes on a Plane, the B movie-turned-blog phenomenon whose soundtrack, Snakes on a Plane: The Album (Decaydance/New Line), includes at least one potential blockbuster single: ”Snakes on a Plane (Bring It).” Performed by Cobra Starship, a one-off collaboration between members of emo up-and-comers Midtown, the Academy Is…, and Gym Class Heroes, along with Maja Ivarsson, frontwoman for Swedish rockers the Sounds, it’s an instantly catchy and sublimely silly eff-the-serpents anthem. Cee-Lo Green (of Gnarls Barkley fame) contributes another new track, the funked-up ”Ophidiophobia” (that would be, yes, the fear of snakes), but the majority of the CD is taken up by breezy dance remixes of well-chosen previously released songs from acts like Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and the Bronx?all of which serve as a fun, fitting complement to SoaP‘s smirky and happily adolescent charms.

On a less campy note, Garden State auteur Zach ”The Shins will change your life” Braff aims for more indie-yuppie nirvana with The Last Kiss‘ soundtrack (Lakeshore), which he produced. By that measure he largely succeeds, though some of his choices (all previously released) are disappointingly safe. Coldplay? Aimee Mann? Oh, Zach, you mad rogue. Still, Snow Patrol’s goopy guilty pleasure ”Chocolate” flows well enough into likable tracks by Rufus Wainwright and Rachael Yamagata, among others. Braff’s breakout star may be little-known singer-songwriter Joshua Radin, whose delicate harmonies deserve to be heard.

Also playing it fairly safe is the Miami Vice soundtrack (Atlantic), which kicks off, appropriately enough, with Florida-based alt-metal outfit Nonpoint’s brooding 2004 cover of Phil Collins’ ”In the Air Tonight.” There is no reworking of Jan Hammer’s synth theme; instead, we get the sleek aural pastels of Moby’s ”Anthem” and ”One of These Mornings,” Felix Da Housecat’s Nina Simone remix ”Sinnerman,” and Goldfrapp’s throbbing single ”Strict Machine.” Like the movie itself, the music is mostly surface, but a serviceably pretty one.

The choices on the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack (Lakeshore), on the other hand, are a testament to its directors’ rock pedigree (married pair Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris helmed videos for Weezer and R.E.M.). Included are songs from Sufjan Stevens and others, but most of the disc belongs to Boulder-based indie outfit DeVotchKa, whose Eastern European-inflected chamber pop is a bracing shot of something strange and new. In this season of sequels, snakefests, and TV remakes, that seems almost extraordinary. SoaP: B+ Last Kiss: B Miami Vice: B Little Miss Sunshine: A-

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