The category for Best Original Song is always a bit of a mess. The songs are rarely judged on how they sound; the importance is, of course, how the song fits into the film for which it was written. This year’s nominees are representative of the usual fare. There’s the popular choice (Adele’s "Skyfall," which will likely win, as it should), the new song for the big-budget musical adaptation (the unnecessary "Suddenly" from Les Misérables), and then there are the forgettable tunes (I didn’t even know what Chasing Ice was before today, much less the song from it). It’s a shame, really, because there were plenty of good tracks included in the list of 75 eligible songs. Here are a few that probably will have a longer shelf life than "Pi’s Lullaby."
Karen O – "Strange Love" (from Frankenweenie)
Fiona Apple – "Dull Tool" (from This is 40)
Rick Ross – "100 Black Coffins" (from Django Unchained)
John Legend – "Who Did That To You" (from Django Unchained)
Sunny Levine – "No Other Plans" (from Celeste and Jesse Forever)
Arcade Fire – "Abraham’s Daughter" (from The Hunger Games)
The Bootleggers feat. Emmylou Harris – "Cosmonaut" (from Lawless)
Florence + The Machine – "Breath of Life" (from Snow White and the Huntsman)
Katy Perry – "Wide Awake" (from Katy Perry: Part of Me)
The Black Keys / RZA – "The Baddest Man Alive" (from The Man With the Iron Fists)
It won’t be long now before RZA’s first feature film, martial arts celebration The Man With The Iron Fists, sucker-punches its way into theatres, but the anticipation is cranked up ever so slightly with each new release from the film’s stacked soundtrack. Last week, we heard “White Dress,” a new cut from Kanye West that channeled RZA’s production as well as West’s earlier work, and now, RZA reunites with his Blackroc collaborators, The Black Keys, for “The Baddest Man Alive.”
The track itself, a bluesy, boozy, introduce-a-strutting-antihero-with-sunglasses sort of affair, will be appealing to Blackroc fans, but the real fun comes not with the song itself but the music video. Here, RZA, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney swap samurai swords for more edible instruments of battle, duking it out in a fancy restaurant’s kitchen by tossing lettuce, throwing French fries and tossing heads of lettuce. If the movie itself looks half as cool or is half as much fun to watch, then RZA should be very proud of himself.
After the underwhelming G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer compilation, we were beginning to wonder what would become of Kanye West’s music. But fans, especially those who weren’t as keen on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, will dg his track for the soundtrack to upcoming martial arts flick The Man With The Iron Fists, directed by Wu-Tang’s RZA, the closest track he’s released in a while to the aesthetic that made him famous. "White Dress" is a slow-burner with the sort of intoxicating vintage soul sample that RZA loves and that was all over The College Dropout, not to mention references to high-end fashion and occasionally showing off his sense of humor ("tell Peaches light the herb ‘cuz we just reunited"). Have a listen below and take yourself back to 2003 (#rememberthe00s?).
As if you needed yet another reason to praise the coolness that is the RZA. The founding Wu-Tang member, sonic scientist, Grammy winner, cerebral über-producer, and author can now put writer-director-actor and purveyor of awesomeness on his already impressive resume with The Man With the Iron Fists–his feature film directorial debut.
For the pulp-ish martial arts flick (staring Russell Crow and Lucy Liu, and “presented” by the King of the B Movie, Quentin Tarantino) RZA enlisted Eli Roth to handle the co-writing duties and asked his oh-so-cool musically inclined pals to help with the epic soundtrack. Featuring a track list consisting of a new Yeezy song, a sick collaboration with the Black Keys and the RZA himself, and joints from Talib Kweli, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Corinne Bailey Rae, the aural accompaniment to the movie might be better than the flick itself, right? I guess you haven’t watched the kick-ass trailer that visually tantalizes with gravity-defying stunts, artful blood spilling, and enough s-e-x to break up the sometimes-gratuitous fighting. Thankfully, if sex and violence isn’t your thing, the soundtrack is available on October 23, a week before the movie’s release.