I've already had my say about how the Paper Towns soundtrack stacks up against The Fault in Our Stars — the Paper Towns soundtrack definitely comes out ahead for energy and variety, and gets extra points for not being such a start-to-finish downer like The Fault in Our Stars album. But this is even clearer when you take a microcosm of the soundtrack like the end credits. How does Paper Towns' end credits songs compare to The Fault in Our Stars? Well, for one thing, TFIOS features a great sequence of sweet but heartbreaking ballads, but Paper Towns contains a veritable narrative arc within a five-minute period.
Both soundtracks were curated by industry veteran Season Kent, who also worked on Magic Mike XXL, Entourage, and and The Fighter, in collaboration with the directors — Josh Boone for TFIOS and Jake Schreier for Paper Towns. Perhaps it's the director's touch that results in such different collections of songs for adaptations of the same writer's novels, but they both bear Kent's signature. The soundtracks include a mix of contemporary superstars like Ed Sheeran and Santigold and up-and-comers like Saint Motel and Birdy, who, when TFIOS's soundtrack was first released, was far from the sensation she is now. This touch has earned Kent's soundtracks comparisons to the tastemakers of the 80s like Say Anything and The Breakfast Club.
With either soundtrack, you're sure to find a new gem with each listen. The Paper Towns end credits songs, though, still trump The Fault in Our Stars' for the way they reflect the ambiance of the whole film, and are sure to bring you back to all the emotions of the last two hours.
The best end credits recap the film and serenade you out of the theater — they're like a little solar system in the John Green universe. Both Paper Towns and TFIOS actually feature three songs over the course of the credits, so let's break them down to see how they compare.
1. "All of the Stars" Vs. "To The Top"
The Fault in Our Stars went into production around the same time as Ed Sheeran's x, but Kent told the Huffington Post that the singer was still eager to be a part of the film. He hadn't seen the film, but submitted "All of the Stars" in hopes that it might fit the soundtrack. Clearly, it did; it provides the backdrop for the first moments of the end credits. "It's really bittersweet and emotional, but it still feels uplifting," Kent says. "That was the biggest thing we wanted to make sure people felt walking out of the theater."
Where "All of the Stars" eases audiences out of the theater, Twin Shadow's "To The Top" heralds the end of the film with an upbeat cry of "Back — to the — Top!" The single actually came out in 2014 and then appeared on the artist's most recent album Eclipse, which was released this year. "To The Top" makes the perfect articulation between the energy of many of the songs that play during the film and the more down-key tunes to follow.
2. "Tee Shirt" Vs. "Used To Haunt"
Birdy lends her haunting, husky vocals to three tracks on the TFIOS soundtrack: "Not About Angels," "Best Shot" (a bonus track in collaboration with Jaymes Young), and "Tee Shirt," the track that follows Ed Sheeran's in the end credits. It's more upbeat than much of her solo work, but still a relatively stripped-down and musically stark track that elides well with Sheeran's. There's relatively little tonal shift, unlike the sequence in Paper Towns, where there's a smooth transition from Twin Shadow's peppy song to the Mountain Goats' "Used to Haunt."
It's no secret that John Green is a massive Mountain Goats fan. He and Season Kent met shortly after The Fault in Our Stars had wrapped, and the production team was preparing for Paper Towns. Kent recounts their first meeting for Variety, where he told her that the Paper Towns soundtrack would consist of entirely Mountain Goats tracks. Evidently that didn't happen — but Kent made sure to slip "Used to Haunt" into the credits. (Q also has a Transcendental Youth poster in his bedroom.) Both for sentimental value and the sudden contrast between "Used to Haunt" and "To The Top," (and because I'm also a giant Twin Shadow and Mountain Goats fan) Paper Towns wins here.
3. "No One Ever Loved" Vs. "Look Outside"
The last tracks for TFIOS and Paper Towns have a similar low-key ambiance — Lykke Li's "No One Ever Loved" and Nat and Alex Wolff's "Look Outside." Lykke Li wrote the track for The Fault in Our Stars, but Kent says that the song didn't quite fit any particular scene. The filmmakers tacked it on to the end credits. In the same way, Nat Wolff submitted "Look Outside" towards the end of production and, though it didn't suit any moment in the narrative, it still perfectly captured the whole film and gives some closure. Both songs do feel a bit like outliers, which makes them perfect for the end credits.
I'm usually first to skate out of the theater when the credits roll, but the songs featured in TFIOS and Paper Towns are events in their own right — definitely worth a listen, because they cap off the film brilliantly. Paper Towns comes out ahead with the whole storyline captured in the five minutes of end credits (and for the pure sentimentality of finally including John Green's favorite band).
Images: Giphy (4)