Stand By Me Soundtrack, by Various Artists
Suggested by Sarah Stevenson
This album is the sixth soundtrack of the review so far.
Of the previous five, we can discount the Beetlejuice and Legally Blonde Musical soundtracks, as they are for theatrical performances and consist of original songs. We can also discard the Frozen soundtrack, as that’s functionally the same as the musical soundtracks already discussed. The Devdas soundtrack, back in Album 9, was for a Bollywood film, and full of songs that were either created for the movie or never before heard at Chez Stevenson.
This leaves the Digimon soundtrack, which is in this album’s wheelhouse in a sense. Sure, for a movie that revolves around a barely-concealed Pokemon rip-off it has an excellent nineties pop-punk aesthetic, and even leaves a little space for some original Digimon-themed material. Like the soundtrack to Stand By Me, it’s evocative of an era.
Of course, Stand By Me’s soundtrack is a perfect picture of a nostalgic Fifties America. This is unsurprising, as it’s based on a Steven King short story, and such setting are the Master of Horror’s bread and butter. The film, if you’ve not seen it, is not horror: it’s a slightly dark coming-of-age tale in which four Oregon pre-teens make a journey to see the as-yet undiscovered body of a stranger that had died accidentally near their rural homes. The soundtrack consists of ten delicious Fifties standards, by great acts like Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis, the songs acting as the backdrop to the boys’ adventure.
I do like Stand By Me, but it’s not my favourite Steven King, not by a distance. It’s not even my favourite Steven King short story from the anthology in which it was printed. That award goes to The Shawshank Redemption, proving that King is a creative machine. As such, I’ve no real connection with the movie, and, because they are all firmly before my time, I’ve no real connection with the songs either.
Let’s look at a few of the highlights. Things start strong with Buddy Holly’s Everyday, with Holly’s quirky gulping vocals evoking the era perfectly, and they finish well, with Ben E King’s timeless Stand By Me. The sandwich filling tracks between these two hearty wholemeal slices? Also strong, particularly the triple-hit of The Silhouettes Get a Job, The Chordettes Lollipop and the Coasters Yakety Yak. As I like the Fifties songs that are wacky rather than smooth, my standout is Get a Job, although the other two mentioned here run it close.
If you’re a particular fan of the era, this soundtrack is a prime playlist to puff up your pompadour hair. And that’s my issue… it’s just a playlist. It’s not particularly connected to the film which is scores, and the songs are used to place the action rather than augment it. There’s nothing wrong with that, although I suspect if you’re a fan of the Fifties sound, you have playlists and favourites of your own. Why let someone else curate your fun for you?
The Stand By Me Sountrack gets 6/10. It’s fine. The songs are nice. But it doesn’t transport me to Castle Rock, propel me through a junk yard pursued by a barking dog, or drive me over a bridge in the path of a powering train.