'90s Soundtrack Battle: Angus & Batman Forever Duke It Out
The movies couldn't be any more different. One is about an obese, kindly high school guy with a heart of gold. The other is about an crime-fighting millionaire orphan inside a cartoonish world full of super-villains, cringe-worthy puns, and Jim Carrey at his muggiest. Obvious Angus is a better film, but you know Batman Forever had Drew Barrymore dressed like this.
But 1995's Angus and Batman Forever both had great soundtracks, that myself and freelancer Cory Garcia were willing to defend. I say that the Batman disc was better than the Angus one, which puts up a valiant fight. Each of them were gateway drugs for many young, budding music fans, with Angus' soundtrack full of future name-check worthy acts like Tilt, Ash, Pansy Division, and Pinkerton-era Weezer.
As for Batman, it was your typical, bloated Hollywood sampler full of industry favors, castoffs and b-sides from other albums and sessions, with enough street-cred to pull the hipper-than-thou. These were en vogue from the early '80s to the late '90s, when you know, blah blah, Napster, stealing and stuff. Soundtracks just aren't the same anymore. They aren't the events that they once were.
The Angus Track Listing:
"J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)" - Green Day "Jack Names the Planets" - Ash "Enough" - Dance Hall Crashers "Kung Fu" - Ash "Back to You" - Riverdales "Mrs. You and Me" - Smoking Popes "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" - Weezer "Ain't That Unusual" - Goo Goo Dolls "Funny Face" - The Muffs "White Homes" - Tilt "Deep Water" - Pansy Division "Am I Wrong" - Love Spit Love (Marching Band Version)
The Batman Forever Track Listing:
"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" - U2 "One Time Too Many" - PJ Harvey "Where Are You Now?" - Brandy "Kiss from a Rose" - Seal "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" - Massive Attack & Tracey Thorn "Nobody Lives Without Love" - Eddi Reader "Tell Me Now" - Mazzy Star "Smash It Up" - The Offspring (The Damned cover) "There Is a Light" - Nick Cave "The Riddler" - Method Man "The Passenger" - Michael Hutchence (Iggy Pop cover) "Crossing the River" - The Devlins "8" - Sunny Day Real Estate "Bad Days" - The Flaming Lips
Craig: I say that the best soundtrack of 1995 was the Batman Forever soundtrack. Check it: The Flaming Lips, PJ Harvey, Sunny Day Real Estate, Nick Cave, The Offspring -- before they were too terribly shitty -- and arguably my favorite U2 song from this era that didn't come from the Pop album, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me".
Now maybe this because I was 12 years old when it came out and I have romanticized it, I don't know. But all I know is that I found the disc at a thrift store a few months back and jammed it for a week or two in my car. What say you?
Cory: My pick for best soundtrack of 1995 is and has always been the Angus soundtrack. While it doesn't have the indie cred of Batman Forever, it does have a pretty stellar line up of awesome pop punk and power pop bands: Ash, Goo Good Dolls, Riverdales, Weezer at their creative high point, and easily the best Green Day b-side, and Mike Dirnt's best contribution to the band -- lyrically -- "J.A.R."
Now, I'll admit, it played to all my soft spots: like the character in the movie, I was a chubby nerdy Green Day-loving school kid, but the songs on the soundtrack remain some of my favorite even today. The question I have for you is are you burying the fact that "Kiss From A Rose" is on Batman Forever or is that your trump card?
Craig: Oh! I was getting to that, my friend. "Kiss From A Rose" and "Crazy" are the only songs we will sadly remember from Seal, and "Kiss From A Rose" was the best junior high slow-dance song ever. I agree with the line-up on Angus, and Green Day's "J.A.R." is a gem. I will also concede that Angus was a better film. But dude, the Flaming Lips' "Bad Days" is in my top five Lips cuts, and it's on Batman Forever.
Back to Angus, how dare you not mention the inclusion of Pansy Division on a major studio movie soundtrack??
Cory: I was getting to that. Putting Pansy Division on a soundtrack like that was a great subversive move. I'd be curious how many people in the core demographic for that movie really knew what being gay was or if they registered what they were singing along to at the time.
The problem I have with the Batman Forever soundtrack is that I'm not really sure what those songs had to do with the movie. I've always been a little confused as to what any of those songs had to do with Batman as a person or character.
"Kiss From A Rose" is a great song, and it's a great song for Batman to knock boots to, but that could have been any number of mid-'90s R&B tracks. Angus does a really good job of having songs that represent the confused feelings that come with liking people at that age.
Also, Angus doesn't have a terrible Offspring b-side thrown on it. I liked those guys a lot but their non-album work has always been pretty awful.
Craig: But you know, if it wasn't for that Damned cover that the Offspring turned in, I wouldn't have found out about Captain Sensible and the boys until like, 1997. A spoonful of sugar.
I think the Angus and Batman Forever soundtracks did their jobs, in the sense that we both discovered new pathways and tunnels because of them. No telling how many kids got into punk rock, and into other weird shit because of the Angus disc. The Batman disc did that for me.
Cory: I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with that last point. Listen, I love compilations, and when I was young I would buy them by the handful. I have great memories of rocking out to label samplers that lead me to discovering great bands I would never have heard.
On the other hand, I'm glad that the trend of every movie needing a soundtrack has gone away. When I listen to Angus I can buy that those songs might exist in that world and that people might listen to them. I'm not sure I'd say the same thing about Batman. The whole "soundtrack for every movie" idea lead to some spectacularly dumb things, like that Blair Witch soundtrack that was supposed to be one of the character's mix-tape found in the car after they never returned. My brain still aches thinking about it.
Craig: I think I can agree with your point that Angus was a true companion piece to the film, and were one in the same.
Cory: Of course, I might be a complete hypocrite because I love gimmick soundtracks like the one for Spawn.
Craig: OK, next time we are arguing over Batman & Robin versus Spawn...
Cory: As long as it eventually leads to a Spawn vs Judgment Night battle...
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