Friday, October 29, 2010

Music Review: The Vampire Diaries: Original Television Soundtrack

It was only a matter of time before one of the most popular shows on the CW Television Network got its own soundtrack. Much like other teen-centered TV dramas of the past, like Fox's The O.C. and other vampire-minded hit shows like HBO's True Blood, Vampire Diaries (which airs Thursday nights on CW) is trying to capitalize on its hit show with a hit soundtrack. And it was a bloody good decision.

Based on the L.J. Smith novels of the same name, the second-year TV series revolves around two brothers (Stefan and his elder, Damon) who obsess over the same gorgeous girl (Elena) and fight to control the fate of a whole (fictional) town (Mystic Falls, Virginia).

Viewers have long commented on the beautiful and fitting music that accompanied key episodes in season one (2009) and now season two, which began in early September. As of October 12, they have a chance to hear 16 tracks that span nearly 65 minutes on The Vampire Diaries: Original Television Soundtrack. It not only features some familiar names from the alternative music realm, but one of the hottest album covers of the year (featuring the aforementioned main stars of the show). Then there's the music itself.

Composer Michael Suby's "Stefan's Theme" clip and rock vets Placebo's Kate Bush cover "Running Up That Hill" set the tone right for a dark opening to the album. The deep bass and contrasting light, tremolo-aided electronics and guitars of the former track, and the thumping, downtempo beats and cut-up vocals of the latter make for an excellent one-two punch.

Track three kicks up the volume some, as alternative rockers Silversun Pickups, led by the always youthful-sounding Brian Aubert contribute the excellent, urgent rock of "Currency of Love," which was previously only available as an iTunes-only bonus track on second album, Swoon (2009).

The "Darktimes" remix of Bat For Lashes' "Sleep Alone" thoroughly turns the groove inside out and adds a lower register vocal to Natasha Khan's. It's very well done, but the original would have fit here better, with its decidedly more ghoulish background vocals and overall darker mood.

If vampires like to dance, there's a few choice cuts here. Howls' "Hammock," which sings about "howling at the moon" is a fine, low-key dance rock track. There is also the decent retro synth pop of Goldfrapp's "We Radiate," and rising 18-year-old dance pop star Sky Ferreira's "Obsession." The latter, at least lyrically, fits the show more so than the former, and has the potential to be a club hit in the vein of Katy Perry, who happens to be a fan of her work (and had a controversial way of showing it several months back).

This article was first published in full earlier today at Blogcritics Magazine.

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