I would argue that the last time a non-musical soundtrack became a bonafide sensation was Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and that was in 2000. The soundtrack went 8 times platinum, won Album of the Year at the 2002 Grammys, and has become more popular than the film itself.
Soundtracks used to be an integral part of the movie experience, adding to the anticipation or the post-viewing coma. You’d buy the album the moment it was released to get you excited for the movie, go see the movie opening weekend, then obsess over the album some more after you watched.
For some reason, that experience has vanished, mostly because we consume music in new and innovative ways. We are in a single-based music industry now, and because of this studios don’t find that creating a perfect soundtrack is as beneficial to create “buzz” around their film as much as one song can. Look at the Hunger Games franchise: We received soundtracks, but they were never as buzzy as one song from each (“Safe and Sound” for the OG film and “The Hanging Tree” from Mockingjay Part 1, which became an accidental smash.)
Luckily, Disney is helping revitalize the dying soundtrack genre by bringing Kendrick Lamar, the biggest male rapper in the world right now, to produce and personally curate the Black Panther soundtrack. I was stunned when I read the headline, ’cause that is a HUGE get.
It shows the power of the representation. When you have a black superhero, in addition to some strong kicka** black women, the community you are representing is going to lift you up and deliver the results you want to see. Kendrick, one of the biggest and most sought after stars today, will create a soundtrack because he wants to support the representation and his community. It’s common sense, and for some reason, entertainment companies still don’t get it. I mean, just look at this video Ava DuVernay tweeted out the other day:
I have unfortunately become the official delivery service of every idea that people want to share with #RyanCoogler since he's not #onhere. I can't possibly share them all. It's a lot! But this one I actually texted to him because truth… xo pic.twitter.com/deyIvM0fVI
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) December 22, 2017
THAT is the power of representation. THAT is the power of creating heros that represent all people, not just straight white men. THAT is the power of visibility. Ugh, the video makes me so happy. ANYWHO, back to music…
With the announcement came the release of the first single off the album, “All the Stars” sung by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists right now). This song is…how do I put this eloquently? Everything. It is everything. It is serving up an ethereal trip to another dimension by way of Wakanda purity realness. SZA’s voice on the track gives me chills. CHILLS, I SAY!
If this is the tone and mood we have to look forward to on this soundtrack, it’s going to become the Album of the Year, I can guarantee it. I was already stoked for Black Panther, even as a non-superhero fan, because of how crazy good it looks (and my queen, Lupita Nyong’o), but this soundtrack is getting me even more excited.
Be sure to check out “All the Stars” on Apple Music or wherever you listen and to go see Black Panther when it heads to theaters on February 16th.