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Twi-hards get the music right

With the release of the Twilight soundtracks, previously underexposed musicians are making it big. But, as James Madden reveals, not everyone is impressed.

With the recent announcement of the release of the  Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack, I was reminded of something that happened to when the soundtrack for the last Twilight film New Moon came out. This has happened to me a few times now. I’ve been with someone listening to music, having a chat about this and that, and then suddenly the Iron and Wine song “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” comes on. I’ve loved this song for yonks, since Samuel Beam (the man behind the name) released The Shepherd’s Dog in 2007.

The song is recognised by my friend, to which she immediately pipes up with “Oh, I love this song,” and starts singing the strange lyrics (“Now I’m a fat house cat/Cursing my sore blunt tongue” etc.) to utter and sheer whimsical delight. Then when I pipe up saying “I love this album”, the girl becomes slightly bewildered and yet extremely exhilarated and excitedly says “you love the Twilight soundtrack?”

This situation has happened to me more than once, and that’s no exaggeration. In truth, when I be fair to ethical ideals journalism and all that hoo-ha, I should not omit that I started liking Iron and Wine when it was included on the soundtrack of the 2004 film In Good Company. So there, I’ve declared potential hypocrisy. But to be fair, the song “Trapeze Swinger” was only released through the soundtrack. So I guess I’m still on the upside.

However, when considering the effects of the Twilight soundtracks on the music industry, popular culture and the public sphere, this hypocrisy can be over looked. Massive indie/punk artists beyond Iron and Wine, such as Muse, Florence and The Machine and now The Black Keys are losing their underground status and now are subjected to pop star status, being loved by the masses of tweeny-bopper Twilight saga lovers. Sadly, this hysteria has led to my slow, dwindling vocal declaration of such love for these artists. In laments terms, Twilight is destroying my love for music. Maybe that’s an extreme statement, and one swimming in hyperbole, but it’s the truth.

My fear comes armed with feelings of woe and despair with the idea that my beloved Florence Welch and other casualties may experience such a significant rise in popularity that they will no longer play in the type of small venues where you can actually see their faces. From this point on they will play in arenas or similar where they become simply a speck of dust on a stage thousands of seats away. For example, just a few years ago the Kings of Leon weren’t selling out arenas – they weren’t even playing arenas. But as the cruel devil of popularity claims life after life, these amazing musicians that we idolise literally move further and further away from us, if you can even get a ticket.

With feelings of foreboding, I looked at the listing for the new Eclipse soundtrack, and (like with New Moon) I was excited, yet worried at the same time. There are bands like Metric, Sia, Death Weather, Bat For Lashes (with Beck) and more of my favourite artists. Good on them, I suppose, for making it big and making their dreams come true. Although, then I realised that my 13-year-old cousin will soon be bouncing her empty head along to these masters. And that’s when the doves cry – cue Prince.

James Madden is a graduating Bachelor of Arts student at La Trobe University. His blog is called Learning the Lingo.

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