Various Artists - The Vampire Diaries - Original Television Soundtrack
Vampires, eh? I'm surprised a toothy, tortured creature of the night wasn't shoehorned into the latest Harry Potter film just to jump on the zeitgeist. They're everywhere lately, thanks to the Twilight films going for the jugular and conquering the cinema in the process. I don't know about you, but it's getting to the point where I'd quite like Buffy to come out of hiding and turn all these bequiffed, mopey heartthrobs into a big pile of dust. However, aside from kickstarting many a young girl's daydream, Twilight has undoubtedly shaped the way soundtracks are consumed and how many people are introduced to new music. Sexy TV show True Blood has fangbangers everywhere getting down and dirty to swampy blues rock, and now teen hit The Vampire Diaries has a new mix of cuts for the emo gossip girls to stalk Rob Pattinson to.
The show's core audience of young women, lulled to the screen by the presence of feisty heroine Elena and brooding bloodsucking brothers Stefan and Damon (hello inevitable love triangle), will no doubt be satisfied by a soundtrack that is faithful to the spirit of the show. I couldn't make it past a few episodes, my patience for yet another fangy franchise waning, yet the music stood out. Like Twilight, the music supervisors on the show aren't afraid to go for the tastemaker's choice and so there are plenty of tracks here that non-fans of the series can sample and enjoy. Two generations of acclaimed American grunge bands, Silversun Pickups and Smashing Pumpkins, take a bite out of the tracklist, while spruced-up versions of familiar songs from our own shores' Bat for Lashes and Gorillaz continue the cred factor. A new track from much-hyped Essex band Morning Parade is included and an appropriately 'vampy' turn from Goldfrapp entitled 'We Radiate' continues the 80s electro-pop vein of Head First but betters some of that album's tracks.
Unfortunately, this first soundtrack (as there will surely be more in the offing) suffers from a definite mid-section lull dedicated to the kind of fraught MOR ballads tailor-made to accompany angsty scenes of teenage - or eternal, whatever - heartbreak. A couple of fine ballads do stand out, the understated 'Bloodstream' from Stateless and a cover of Tears for Fears' 'Head Over Heels' from Digital Daggers included. This volume's crowning moment comes courtesy of another cover, albeit one that's been knocking around for a while now; Placebo's moody, chilling take on Kate Bush's 'Running Up that Hill' is still powerful and the perfect gothic-inspired addition. Bookending the whole venture are two functional pieces of incidental music from show composer Michael Suby.
So, the standard of featured acts isn't quite up there with the Twilight series just yet but it's worth remembering the first film had the weakest soundtrack of the lot. For a TV show soundtrack, this represents a pretty good cross-section of genres and talent and almost makes me want to give the show another chance to see what tunes are featured next week. I'll be whittling stakes instead, though.