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Disturbia: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

By Neeharika Palaka | August 18, 2009

Split Magazine: DisturbiaThere are many good things about 2007′s thriller flick Disturbia. The fact that it’s spiritually based on the Hitchcock masterpiece Rear Window; the excellent use of cinematography and color; an often-angsty, often-awkward Shia Labeouf. But perhaps the best thing about the movie is the music that plays along with it, and gives it that discernable advantage that only a good soundtrack could provide. The selection of tracks during the movie perfectly accentuates the mood of each scene. The songs themselves sound like they were picked from the 60 GB iPod of teenage protagonist Kale Brecht himself.

In the movie, Kale is an intelligent but slightly disturbed young man who is placed under three months of house arrest for “popping” his Spanish teacher. During those empty three months, whose loneliness is further emphasized by the confiscation of his TV and video games, Kale uses his time in building a castle of Twinkies, finding romance, and of course, in true Rear Window fashion, discovering that his shady neighbor is in fact a cold-blooded murderer.

What’s most impressive about this soundtrack is the fact that it is, in itself, a great compilation album that offers the right balance of punk-y arrogance, pristine indie rock, hilariously bad pop, and even Afro Man. Even if you have never watched Disturbia, and never will, you could still listen to this soundtrack without ever needing to make a connection to the movie (although it helps to have seen to movie).

The Disturbia soundtrack achieves something that many movie soundtracks fail to maintain throughout their duration: integrity. It is easy enough to accomplish a level of integrity when an album is recorded by the same artist, under constant circumstances. But soundtracks deal with the art of selection and placement of the correct tracks to artificially create a semblance of commonness or a thematic element which traverses throughout, much like putting together a good mixtape. At this the Disturbia soundtrack excels.

Perhaps the reason that the soundtrack attains that tricky level of integrity is because it seems to be modeled after an actual character’s personality, something that is usually not seen in soundtracks. This collection of songs effectively mirrors Kale’s brash hyperactivity, startling emotional insight, and endearing childishness, to the point that one feels like Kale’s acquaintance, and familiar with his musical taste as well. As Guster’s impeccable “One Man Wrecking Machine” says, this set of songs really does seem to be “inspired by true events or movie screens”.

Other standout tracks on this album include the frantic, irrepressible “Next To You” by Buckcherry, and noted indie rock band Nada Surf’s sensitive “Always Love”. The upbeat “Gangsta Boogie” by Love Stink, and Louque’s groovy “Whoa Now” lend a musical twist to the already interesting rock/pop/reggae/etc. amalgamation. Of course, the sudden interjection of Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You” is as humorous as it is in the movie, where Kale smartly uses it to break apart a hip party. “Because I Got High” by Afro Man and “Me So Horny” by 2 Live Crew (if you’ve seen the movie: yes, Ronnie’s ring tone) are always amusing to listen to as well.

However, this soundtrack has one serious misgiving: it leaves out arguably the two best tracks, snippets of which are played to flawless effect in the movie: “Lonely Days” by System of a Down, and “Taper Jean Girl” by Kings of Leon. The absence of these two songs is starkly conspicuous, seeing as it was these songs that would have urged many people to consider buying the album.

Despite this, the Disturbia soundtrack is immensely enjoyable. The delectable choice of songs acts as the perfect companion piece to the equally terrific movie. Definitely a must-listen if you like Disturbia, indie rock, or both.

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