Entertainment

'Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 2' includes nostalgia with purchase

Posted April 27

Chris Pratt as Star-Lord in "Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2." (Deseret Photo)

The long-awaited "Awesome Mix Vol. 2," full of '70s nostalgia, was released last Friday for purchase. Composed of Marvel character Peter Quill’s favorite childhood tunes, the soundtrack was released in anticipation of the newest "Guardians of the Galaxy" film, opening Friday, May 5.

The previous album "Awesome Mix Vol. 1," from the first film, focused largely on the music of the 1970s and 1980s, and included the hits “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Suede and “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5.

“The music was a way to invite you in and make you feel a little more comfortable because it’s something we’re familiar with in the face of all this oddness," director James Gunn said in a Buzzfeed interview.

The music is another character in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" film world. Sarah Sinwell, associate professor in the film department at the University of Utah, said pop music soundtracks have been making a significant comeback in recent years, both because of nostalgia in films like "Guardians of the Galaxy," and shifting marketing strategies.

Sinwell said Peter Quill's cassette tapes contribute to the sentimentality of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films.

“In a film that’s taking place in the future, that need to also reference the past is important to orient the audience,” Sinwell said.

She said nostalgic music invites viewers to recall a historical moment. In the case of "Guardians of the Galaxy," these songs comment on Quill’s personal history by reminding him and viewers of his childhood.

Sinwell also said these songs are a significant box office boost, especially when producers include popular artists.

“The director is selling the soundtrack just as much as they are selling the film. It is all part of the merchandising, to target those audiences that will be drawn to this kind of music,” Sinwell said.

Timothy Williams, supervising orchestrator of "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2," agrees with Sinwell on this point.

“Soundtracks can help get people into the film. When people can buy a soundtrack with songs they like, it helps drive interest in the film. A song you adore, set against new visuals, can be very powerful in storytelling,” Williams told the Deseret News.

By using classic rock anthems, the 'Awesome Mix" duo brings in fans of all ages: kids come for the superheroes and parents for the music. The soundtracks are a part of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" brand.

“Using songs from the '80s and old rock songs is very much a part of that goofy sound world; it is very tongue in cheek. That’s what 'Guardians of the Galaxy' does best,” Chad Cannon, a music orchestrator for the film, said in an interview with the Deseret News.

Mark Christopher, a professor at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, said that without a soundtrack, a film is missing a chunk of its story. Nostalgia always serves to bring in a larger audience.

“Soundtracks are a part of every character. They set the mood and the tempo of a film, tell the story and convey emotion,” Christopher said. “About every 15 years, music becomes ‘nostalgia.’ After that time, people look back and have fond feelings about songs, and that can either conjure up an era or bring out differences in today’s society.”

So what kind of nostalgia does the new soundtrack offer? "Awesome Mix Vol. 2" reaches a little further back on the musical timeline than the previous album, pulling most of its content from the 1970s, with a taste of the '60s, as well.

1. 'Mr. Blue Sky' by Electric Light Orchestra, 1977

With its space sound effects and dramatic opera backup vocals, this track would make an excellent theme song for the entire "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise.

The popularity of this track got a significant boost when it was featured in the 2004 film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. Since then, it has been featured in "Megamind," "Martian Child," "The Invention of Lying" along with several television shows, including an episode of "Dr. Who," according to imdb.com. “Mr. Blue Sky” was even played in space, according to nasa.gov, as a wake-up call for Commander Chris Ferguson of the Atlantis on one of the final days of the STS-135 mission in 2011.

2. 'Fox on the Run' by Sweet, 1974

“Fox on the Run” was the first single written by the members of the '70s glam rock band Sweet, as opposed to by their producers. Released on their album “Desolation Boulevard,” the song's heavy rock guitar and harmonies channel Queen and The Who. “Fox on the Run” was also included on soundtracks for “Dazed and Confused,” “Catch .44” and “When in Rome.”

3. 'Lake Shore Drive' by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, 1971

Though written as an homage to the Chicago lakeside freeway of the same name, “Lake Shore Drive” is also believed to be a tribute to LSD by music analysts and YouTube commenters alike. Despite repeated denial of double meanings in lines such as “Just slipping by on LSD,” listeners believe “LSD” stands for the hallucinogen, alongside the street name.

4. 'The Chain' by Fleetwood Mac, 1977

“The Chain” has a unique place in "Awesome Mix Vol. 2" as the only song that got a remix version, created by mix artist Hi-Finesse.

The original track was a remix of sorts, as well, because it was created from the rejected solo work of various band members. Of all the tracks on Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album, “The Chain” is the only one credited to all the band’s members.

5. 'Bring It On Home to Me' by Sam Cooke, 1962

Sam Cooke recorded this soulful tune that made it to No. 2 on the R&B charts in 1962. With its easy jazz piano and crooning vocals, this song plays off of old-school gospel style music, complete with call and response between Cooke and Lou Rawls. Rawls would go on to release his own version of “Bring it On Home to Me” in 1970. The track has also been covered by the Animals, Rod Stewart and Mickey Gilley, whose version hit No. 1 on the country charts.

6. 'Southern Nights' by Glen Campbell, 1977

Reaching No. 1 on three Billboard music charts in 1977, “Southern Nights” was originally recorded by Allen Toussaint. Campbell recorded his own version in 1977, which added full instrumentation and a significant boost in tempo. The sentimental mood of this song will fit right alongside the Quill narrative, as he continues to reflect on his childhood in this second installment of the series.

7. 'My Sweet Lord' by George Harrison, 1970

The "Quiet Beatle's" first single, "My Sweet Lord" was also the first No. 1 hit for any member of the group post-break up.

As with any Phil Spector production, "My Sweet Lord" features the producer's signature “wall of sound” recording technique — a full sound that includes deep rhythm sections, rich backup vocals and lovely harmonies. Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and other hit musicians joined the recording.

Geroge Harrison faced a significant pitfall with this successful hit, however, when he was sued by the producer of the Chiffons, who claimed the track plagiarized the group's 1963 song “He’s So Fine.” Though Harrison claimed he took inspiration from a hymn by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, he still lost the lawsuit and owed $1.6 million to the Chiffons.

8. 'Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)' by Looking Glass, 1972

Quill's mix tape wouldn't be as awesome without this sappy '70s love song about a barmaid and the sailor lover who leaves her behind. “Brandy,” more pop-oriented than Looking Glass’s regular rock repertoire, has been covered by many top modern artists, including Kenny Chesney and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The original song reached the No. 1 spot on the 1972 rock charts.

9. 'Come a Little Bit Closer' by Jay and the Americans, 1964

Coming in at No. 3 on the overall 1964 Billboard charts, “Come a Little Bit Closer” was easily Jay and the Americans' biggest hit. It has a similar dramatic story to “Brandy.” According to imdb.com, this track has been featured on "Gilmore Girls" and "The Meddler."

10. 'Wham Bam Shang a Lang' by Silver, 1976

This pop hit was the only charting song on the only album by Silver, a band that included Brent Mydland, who later joined the Grateful Dead. The track's easy '70s groove will be a smooth tune behind Quill’s shenanigans.

11. 'Surrender' by Cheap Trick, 1978

Deemed “the ultimate '70s teen anthem” by Rolling Stone, “Surrender” tells of a child trying to relate to his parents, an apt fit considering viewers see Quill meet his father at the end of the film's trailer. The two parent-to-child themed tracks on the album are likely used to accent the development of that relationship over the course of "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2."

12. 'Father and Son' by Cat Stevens, 1970

Continuing the father and son bonding theme, “Father and Son” follows the story of a young man who wants to join the Russian revolution but is blocked by the conservative ways of his father.

Seven years after the release of this song, Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, converted to Islam, and he's become particular about the content his music is associated with. Its inclusion here is a significant victory for the film.

13. 'Flash Light' by Parliament, 1977

Funk brings the beat on "Awesome Mix" with this classic by Parliament. “Flash Light” was the first No. 1 R&B chart-topper for a collective group like Parliament, and the first for their label Casablanca records. There is a lot going on in this song: The chants are based on Jewish Bar Mitzvah chants, the synthesizer is techno, and everything else is psychedelic. It’s funky, catchy and different from everything else on the album.

14. 'Guardian’s Inferno' by the Sneepers, featuring David Hasselhoff, 2017

Rumor has it this is an original song from the Marvel universe. In an interview with Rolling Stone, director James Gunn revealed “Guardian’s Inferno” was co-written with funny lyrics by Gunn and music composer Tyler Bates, and is meant to play off the disco version of the Star Wars theme. Gunn also revealed that David Hasselhoff’s vocals were selected because he was one of Quill’s childhood heroes.

Email: mhulse@deseretnews.com

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