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Coming-of-age film soundtracks: The '00s

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Uwu_logo As part of our week-long crash-course on seminal coming-of-age film soundtracks, we check out the biggest hits from the current decade, including indie-rock goldmine Garden State. Check out previous classes (listed below) to see what you missed, then test your knowledge of teen-angst anthems with our final exam.

The Indie Aughties
Indie films with strong musical elements were nothing new by the earlyaughts — just ask Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, and John Waters, to name afew — but 2004’s Garden State marked a new kind of movie-soundtrack synergy. Inthe film, Natalie Portman’s headphone plea (see class title, above) elevated thewistful, literate rockers the Shins to an entirely new level. The band’s 2001Sub Pop debut, Oh, Inverted World, made the band fast cool-kid favorites, but ittook that now-legendary Garden State placement to elevate them to SNL-playing,Billboard-charting indie all-stars.

Garden-State-Portman_dl[1] Writer/director star Zach Braffdoesn’t win big points for discovery (the majority of the bands he features werealready well known in indie circles), but he did give State the alt-for-the-massessoundtrack of the ’00s by mixing emerging acts like the Postal Service and Iron& Wine with proto-alt icons like Nick Drake. It set the stage, no doubt, for2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which sent its two teen loverscareening along an up-all-night collision course (through many real NYClandmarks) to the sound of of-the-moment acts like Vampire Weekend, Band ofHorses, and We Are Scientists. The popularity of 2007’s knocked-up-teen dramedy Juno, meanwhile, made anti-folk oddballs the Moldy Peaches a householdname — several years after the NYC duo disbanded. Still, solo Peach Kimya Dawson’schildlike, herky-jerky compositions also became an integral part of the movie,and the soundtrack stunned many music industry insiders by hitting no. 1 on theBillboard charts.

2009’s Adventureland couldn’t go too heavy on theaughts rock; its setting, a low-rent Pittsburgh amusement park circa 1987,instead showcased the raspy croon of Lou Reed (“Satellite of Love”), theshambolic guitar jangle of the Replacements (“Unsatisfied”) and othercollege-rock classics, alongside then-current bubblegum pop (Animotion’s “Obsession,” Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”) and a few original compositions by indiestalwarts Yo La Tengo.

After the jump: Donnie Darko and (500) Days of Summer

Likewise, 2001’s cultishly adored DonnieDarko enhanced its ’80s setting with songs from post-punk icons Joy Division(“Love Will Tear Us Apart”) and The Church (“Under the Milky Way”) as it exposedthe shady underbelly of sunny 1980s suburbia. (Singer-songwriter Gary Jules’haunting take on Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” remains a benchmark oftransformative cover songs — just ask Adam Lambert).

The upcomingindie rom-com (500) Days of Summer (out July 17) — with its Smiths references,Regina Spektor songs, and kewpie-eyed female protagonist — already looks like2009’s best candidate for Garden State 2.0, but the John Krasinski-Maya Rudolphdramedy Away We Go — the soundtrack of which is split between originals by youngScottish troubador Alexi Murdoch and golden go-to’s by Velvet Underground, BobDylan — adopts the now-familiar template just as aptly. So what’s next? Our localCineplex, and our stereos, will no doubt continue to tell the tale.

For reference: The Postal Service, “Such Great Heights”; Kimya Dawson, “Tire Swing”;Alexi Murdoch, “All My Days”; The Shins, “Caring Is Creepy”; the VelvetUnderground, “Pale Blue Eyes’; Gary Jules, “Mad World”; the Stranglers, “GoldenBrown”; the New York Dolls, “Looking for a Kiss”; The Replacements, “Bastards ofYoung.”

For discussion: What filmmakers do you feel synergize music andmovies best in the aughties? Wes Anderson? Quentin Tarantino? Jim Jarmusch?Richard Linklater? Sofia Coppola? Discuss in the comments section below.

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More on coming-of-age film soundtracks from EW University:
At the Hop:Mid-Century Nostalgia
Closerto Groovy: Cruising into the ’70s
Totally‘80s: The Greed Decade Goes Pop
The1990s: Rocking Out in the Irony Age
HappyAnachronisms: These soundtracks mix classic and contemporary hits
Final exam:Test your knowledge of teen angst anthems

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