Album Review: The Edge of Seventeen Motion Picture Soundtrack
This weekend on November 18th the Edge of Seventeen, a modern day John Hughes-esque coming of age film, will be debuting in theaters across the country; you can watch the trailer below. On the same day, the motion picture soundtrack will be released as well. If you haven’t heard of the movie or are still wondering why you should see it, the soundtrack is a wonderfully eccentric peak into what the movie has to offer.
At first glance, the track list presented to us seems like a hodgepodge group of songs that wouldn’t meld together very well. However, once you press play you find yourself transported back to how it feels to be seventeen. In a way, the eclectic grouping of indie rock, alt rock, rap, and ballads are a perfect window into the ups and downs of growing up. The soundtrack perfectly follows the journey of Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) as she struggles with her identity and awkwardness along with her social and familial lives clashing with a loud bang.
The opening song “Who I Thought You Were” by Santigold is a wonderful introduction to the plot and Nadine’s journey. As the song unravels and Santigold’s voice plays over a Devo type electronica, it becomes apparent that a big question of the movie is going to be: are you who I thought you were? If not, who the hell are you? I feel this is going to be a consistent question for Nadine, directed outwardly to her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) that ends up falling in love with Nadine’s brother Darian (Blake Jenner) and inwardly as Nadine begins to question if she is the person she thought she was. Or if she’ll ever be the person she wishes she was.
We’re treated to The Struts hit song “Ballroom Blitz” and the always funky Two Door Cinema Club, two groups from very different eras that surprisingly fit effortlessly into the soundtrack and story; even A$AP Ferg’s soulful, rap compliments the mix well. These parts of the soundtrack perfectly translate both the Breakfast Club feeling and the modern hilarity of a film like Juno, putting one foot in the 80s and the other in the 2010’s.
There are the expected melancholy, life-crisis type songs. When “Save Me” by Aimee Mann plays, you can easily imagine a confused, angry, and sad tornado of a seventeen year old walking home alone or holed up in their room staring out of their window blankly. For those of us who have grown out of our teenage years but are still young enough to remember every terrible, hilarious moment, these songs give us a severe case of déjà vu. Like Aimee Mann, Cloves takes us back to the feeling of both the heartbreaker and the heartbroken. As Cloves croons about falling out of love with someone, we all relive our first heartbreak but also the first time we broke the heart of someone else, maybe even the heartbreaks that came after as well. These songs fit into everyone’s life, the moments we all find ourselves feeling seventeen again.
Of course being seventeen, and life in general, isn’t always about heartbreak and self-discovery. The Edge of Seventeen soundtrack takes us into the moments of petty anger with “The Dickhead Song,” a hilarious number by Miles Betterman, and the moments when you’re feeling furious, and you don’t know why; it’s just one of those days. “Hard Luck” by Black Pistol Fire, a song reminiscent of dark, old school blues, and “When I’m Small” by Phantogram, more rock n’ roll than ever, are two tracks that would be perfect for the many moody days we’ll see Nadine having.
If the soundtrack tells us anything, the Edge of Seventeen is bringing the ups and downs in equal measure. Handsome Poets delivers a joyous remix of “Sky On Fire” that will have you happily and mindlessly dancing around the movie theater. This track reminds us that along with mood swings and sarcasm, being a teenager is also full of feeling invincible and infinite. Listening to the Edge of Seventeen remix of “Sky On Fire” will have people of all ages feeling like the world is theirs for the taking.
Though the soundtrack closes with instrumental numbers from Atli Orvarsson, Birdy’s “Ghost In The Wind” is what haunts you when the album ends. Birdy is an artist that has a knack for songs that plunge a hand into your chest to take your heart in hand. Though it echoes back to the opening track’s broad questions of “who am I? Who are you? Where are we going?”, “Ghost In The Wind” also hits on every point of conflict we are bound to see in the movie: Nadine’s internal struggles, a falling out with someone who was once her best friend, and what seems to be a constant separation between her and her brother. Birdy takes us through every feeling in four minutes; we feel the hurt, the confusion, the loneliness, and, eventually, the longing of wanting back something or someone you lost.
As a soundtrack, we are indeed taken on a musical journey and a beautiful preview of what is to come from the movie itself. At first glance the tracks seem to have no correlation whatsoever but, there’s no doubt in our mind that each of these songs will fit the scenes, characters, and storylines perfectly. It’s a roller coaster of a soundtrack for what is sure to be one of the standout movies of the season.
The Edge of Seventeen Soundtrack is available for pre-order on iTunes and is officially available this Friday, November 18th!