CD Review of John Tucker Must Die Soundtrack

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John Tucker Must Die
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Windup
Released: 2006
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What kind of music are the kids listening to these days? That’s a hypothetical question, but one that is set in front of the peeps who have to choose the tunes for a summer flick that appeals mostly to teens. In the case of soundtrack for the movie “John Tucker Must Die,” the supervisors did a pretty good job, including styles and artists that are hot or are becoming hot as we speak. They also included a healthy dose of whiny, skater boy pop/punk. But that’s because we somehow can’t get away from the genre, the same way we couldn’t escape the post-Creed nu-metal that infiltrated our radio airwaves for years after the music itself began to suck. Insert your “It ALWAYS sucked” comment here.

It’s worth noting that there is no hip-hop on the soundtrack at all. Instead, the tunes ride the fence between sugary pop music and rock that is actually pretty cool. With all the pop/punk stuff, there is a distinct Orange County/Vans Warped Tour flavor running throughout, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. If you take aside some of said pop music (like The All-American Rejects’ “Dirty Little Secret” or Cartel’s “Honestly” or Motion City Soundtrack’s “Better Open the Door”), there are truly some gems.

There are two songs by up-and-coming hottie fronted rock band Stefy, “Chelsea” and “Fool for Love,” the latter that is on this soundtrack but not on the bands’ debut album. Another standout is “Hope Song” by Rock Kills Kid, which has a distinctive ‘80s flavor akin to New Order or Depeche Mode, and flat out rocks. The same applies to “Instantly Gratified” by People in Planes, the ultra-catchy “Sunset Lover” by Josh Kelley, and a way cool track by comeback kids Nada Surf, “I Like What You Say.” There is also a real dud on here, punk band Quietdrive’s version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” Uh, dudes, every cover band is playing this song, and has been for the past twenty years. It’s just not cool anymore.

The bottom line with this soundtrack is that it’s going to appeal to the kiddies, to some of the hipsters, and to a good chunk of the kiddies’ parents. And while it delves into a tired genre quite a bit, it still manages to present itself as a solid package of really good material.

~Mike Farley