Juno Soundtrack, Various Artists

Posted by AJ Harbison at 3:29 am

I saw the movie Juno for the first time a few weekends ago. It was, of course, a nominee for the Best Picture Oscar last year, and it was a very well-hyped movie in my various circles, which led me to high levels of anticipation. As a movie, I felt that it was definitely good but not quite as great as everyone had made it out to be (though, as my roommate Mike pointed out, definitely better than most movies nowadays). The soundtrack, however, was disappointing to me. A quick click through some of the samples on the Amazon page for the soundtrack, particularly the songs written and performed for the movie by Kimya Dawson, reveal the general style of the songs–a sort of stripped-down emo feel. Meaning no offense to those who may have enjoyed the soundtrack, I really dislike that kind of music. The lyrics are often silly or downright stupid, which is not necessarily bad in a light-hearted movie like Juno; but the music is played on often out-of-tune guitars and sung by almost always out-of-tune singers. And the melodies tend to be boring, simplistic, and monotone, which makes all the songs sound the same.

I appreciate the quality of “authentic-ness” that I assume this music tries to portray–just a songwriter strumming and singing, as if in a living room performance. And I know that this is one of the reasons some people enjoy this style. But to me, it seems like a bunch of songwriters who can’t write songs, guitarists who can’t tune their instruments, and singers who can’t sing. And that makes it really hard to listen to for extended periods of time, and even harder to enjoy.

But, apart from the music, the movie was very good.



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    Roberta on 06.19.2008

    I too was not impressed with the soundtrack, even though I knew they were trying to get a certain feel by it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but your comments resonated with me :)) I am enjoying your blog. It is expanding my views of music and will listen closer (in movies) to the music.

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    Darth_Harbison on 06.19.2008

    I could be wrong, but here’s my take on the Juno soundtrack: for one, pretty much everything about the movie has the same feel as the music does—it’s all washed-out and has that “stripped-down-emo” feel. Secondly, I think that they were intentionally trying to sound like songwriters who can’t write songs. I didn’t get that until the end, when Juno and Bleeker are sitting on the wall at his house and start playing the song from the hospital scene, but I think that the idea was to make the music as if Juno and Bleeker themselves had written the soundtrack. If two only marginally talented high schoolers were to write songs for a movie, I’d imagine it would be quite a bit like the songs from Juno, and I think that that’s what they were going for.

    But of course, it’s possible that I’m just searching for a justification for it because I thought that this was an amazing movie and one of the best movies I’ve seen in a very long time.

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    Ryan Fleming on 06.19.2008

    I personally did not like the movie. I felt that the feel of the movie was unique and quite intriguing at first, but without any sort of real humor or decent plot line I got bored real quick.

    I did find that the music went with the movie perfectly. I felt that any sort of quality musicianship would have been out of place. The out of tune nature of the songs definately matched the out of tune lifestyle that Juno had. Now that is not saying that I would ever listen to these songs for pleasure, but it just seemed to me that it fit the movie well.


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    Mike Morabito on 06.23.2008

    Great review AJ.

    Although, I pretty much agree with Mark about the movie and the soundtrack with its “washed-out-i-ness”. haha

    I would say the music was “cute”, bright and innocently immature musicianship. But that is what makes it so appealing, I think. In a way I connected with it.

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