Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Music From the Motion Picture
There’s nothing that annoys me more than hearing a really great new song in a movie, then finding it’s not on the soundtrack album. The soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me not only commits this cardinal sin of soundtrack albums, but does it with a song by my all-time favorite band, They Might Be Giants!!! Not only that, but their song was Dr. Evil’s theme song, a “Goldfinger”-esque number with a female guest-singer that was better and more appropriate than just about anything that IS on the soundtrack! Bastards! Someone will pay for this!
That egregious slight aside, the soundtrack’s an interesting mix of big name “rawk stars” doing covers of ’60s hits and some interesting original tracks. The covers mostly work — R.E.M.’s take on Tommy James’ “Draggin’ the Line” sounds like nothing they’ve ever done (Michael Stipe even sounds completely different — I think he took the marbles out of his mouth!), while Melanie G (a.k.a. the dreaded Scary Spice) contributes a surprisingly serviceable version of Cameo’s funk classic “Word Up” — I was prepared to crucify her, but the damn thing’s actually pretty good! I don’t want to spoil Dr. Evil’s version of “Just the Two of Us” for you, as it’s one of the highlights of the film, but suffice to say it owes a lot to the recent Will Smith version. Less successful was Big Blue Missile (featuring Stone Temple Pilot Scott Weiland on vocals), whose take on the Zombies’ “Time of the Season” sounds like it was played by a bunch of zombies, but the mega-disappointment was Lenny Kravitz’s take on the Guess Who’s driving anthem “American Woman.” I was sure Kravitz’s take would be a high-energy burner on par with his own classic “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” but instead, it’s a slowed down anemic waste.
The original tracks bear up much stronger. Green Day do a stunning surf-spy instrumental called “Espionage” that had me double-checking to make sure it was really them — this track’s worthy of a band like the Bomboras! Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger” is aptly named, as it’s both more beautiful and stranger than anything else I’ve heard her do. Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello’s take on Bacharach’s own “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” another highlight of the film, and is nicely understated. Elsewhere, the Flaming Lips are up to their usual psychedelic fun with “Buggin’,” and the Lucy Nation contribute “Alright,” which is exactly that, and nothing more — one of those songs you’ll get sick of once it gets played to death on the radio.
A Dimitri From Paris remix of Austin’s theme song, Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova,” and a live version of the Who’s “My Generation” round out a soundtrack that’s pretty spiffy, all things considered. Certainly, it fits the film well, which should be a soundtrack’s main purpose in life. Now, about that TMBG track…