Saturday, September 24, 2011

Aimee Mann: Magnolia OST (1999)

(Warner Bros.)


Here's a good example of the ways that eleven years can change you. When I saw the movie Magnolia a few months after its release, I thought it messy, unfocused, and dramatically aloof, not to mention overlong. It was a frustrating film because there were elements of it I loved -- the performances by Tom Cruise and John C. Reilly, some of the sequences dealing with the child-prodigy quiz show, and above all the songs by Aimee Mann, which seemed then to me so much more graceful and eloquent than the movie itself.

I haven't seen Magnolia in at least ten years now. But I've maintained some nostalgia for its soundtrack. To my surprise, when I pulled it out recently, I found it a horror. Mann's vocals are woefully inexpressive, and less forgivably, her songs themselves strike me now as directionless and bland. The cover of Three Dog Night's "One" is just as bad as every other version of that awful, overrated piece of tripe, and it's actually downhill from there. Various selections abound from Mann's records I'm with Stupid and Bachelor #2, the latter of which I at one time found knowing and beautiful. I was wrong.

The two songs Mann wrote expressly for the feature, "Wise Up" and "Save Me," are Lilith Fair pap, though the latter contains more hooks than the rest of the disc in its entirety. "Wise Up" is maudlin and grating, "Save Me" simply carries its pretentious harping on simplistic emotions too far, rambling on for nearly five minutes. That the disc closes with a few Supertramp songs adds to the insult, though Jon Brion's theme tune is, of course, lovely.

On the whole, I don't know what I was hearing back then; this is junk. Does this mean that I would love the movie Magnolia if I saw it now? I'll try to find out next time I can spare six hours or however the hell long that thing is.

1 comment:

  1. It is an awfully long mess of a film, but I reckon you may have appreciated the soundtrack more having seen the film again too... I do really like those three songs you mentioned and partly because they fit really well within the context of the film, in my opinion of course! But then Magnolia is one of my favourite films so I'm a bit biased there.