Ranking the 'Garden State' Soundtrack Songs From Least to Most Awesome — LISTEN
On Monday, July 28, the movie Garden State turns 10 years old. My, how time flies! Ten years ago, Garden State, which was both written and directed by actor Zach Braff, enchanted audiences (read: mostly high school students) with its quirky cast of troubled twenty-somethings and its supposedly "deep" observations about life. Until last week, I hadn't actually seen Garden State since it was first released in theaters in 2004. Sitting down to watch the movie again 10 years later, I discovered that I really didn't remember much about the plot or the performances (though Natalie Portman does a nice job) — but I absolutely did remember the music.
Not only did Braff write and direct Garden State, he was also responsible for putting together the movie's fantastic soundtrack. In a 2004 interview with IGN, Braff said that in order to create the album, he basically just burned a "mix CD" of all of the music that he was listening to while writing the film's screenplay, and voila! Just like that, the Garden State soundtrack was born. The soundtrack was both a critical and commercial success, winning a Grammy Award in 2005 and going on to sell 1.5 million copies. I guess it's safe to say that Braff has good taste in music!
In honor of Garden State's 10th anniversary, let's take a look back at its wonderful soundtrack, ranking the songs from least awesome to most awesome...because there's really only one "bad" song, and we'll get it out of the way real quick!
13. Iron & Wine — "Such Great Heights"
This probably isn't going to be a very popular opinion, but I think that Iron & Wine's bland cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" is by far the least awesome song on the Garden State soundtrack. Like, how does one take a lively, energetic song like "Such Great Heights" and just completely suck all of the fun and life out of it? I don't understand.
12. Remy Zero — "Fair"
Remy Zero's "Fair" isn't a bad song, per se, but it doesn't really have a strong melody or a memorable hook. It's just kinda...there. The song stumbles around for four minutes and then, suddenly, it's over. Definitely not my favorite.
11. Nick Drake — "One of These Things First"
Nick Drake's "One of These Things First" is a cute little tune about all of the things people often say that they could have or should have done in order to keep a relationship alive. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and in the moment, we're not always able to read the signs. "I could have been your pillar/ Could have been your door/ I could have stayed beside you/ Could have stayed for more..."
10. Thievery Corporation — "Lebanese Blonde"
Kicking off with a little funky sitar action, Thievery Corporation's "Lebanese Blonde" is basically just a song about getting stoned. I mean, just look at these lyrics: "Too low to find my way/ Too high to wonder why/ I've touched this place before/ Somewhere in another time..." I bet you have! I find the song's content to be a little dopey, so I actually might enjoy this one more if it were just instrumental.
9. Colin Hay — "I Just Don't Think I'll Get Over You"
It's tough to pick the most heartbreaking lines from Colin Hay's "I Just Don't Think I'll Get Over You," because the song is entirely made up of heartbreaking lines, but I'll do my best: "I don't want you thinking that I don't get asked to dinner/ 'Cause I'm here to say that I sometimes do/ And even though I may seem to feel a touch of love/ I just don't think I'll ever get over you." Please excuse me, I think I have something in both of my eyes.
8. Bonnie Somerville — "Winding Road"
It was smart of Braff to close the Garden State soundtrack with Bonnie Somerville's "Winding Road," because the song perfectly reinforces one of the movie's main messages: It's totally okay if you don't know exactly where you're headed in life. You just need to keep going and trust that, someday, you'll end up right where you're meant to be. Yeah, it's a little cliché (okay, a lot cliché), but there's nothing wrong with indulging in a little inspirational cheese every now and then...right?
7. Simon & Garfunkel — "The Only Living Boy in New York"
Were you aware that English musical duo Everything But the Girl (of "Missing" fame) covered this Simon & Garfunkel classic for their 1993 album, Home Movies? It's actually pretty good. The more you know.
6. Cary Brothers — "Blue Eyes"
I didn't really remember Cary Brothers' "Blue Eyes" when it first started playing, but as soon as the chorus hit, it all came flooding back to me. It's just a sweet song about someone who doesn't really realize how special they are, and then Brothers is all like, "You're great and I love you and please just open your eyes and see that I'm standing right here in front of you!!!" And then there's probably some kissing and hugging or something like that. The song's pretty cute, if you ask me.
5. The Shins — "New Slang"
In the movie, Sam (Portman) tells Andrew (Braff) that The Shins' "New Slang" will change his life. I don't know that the song has changed my life, necessarily, but it is pretty good. It's all moody and angst-ridden and full of devastatingly sad lines like, "Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall/ Never should have called/ But my head's to the wall and I'm lonely." Oh, the feels.
4. The Shins — "Caring is Creepy"
I guess what strikes me most about The Shins' "Caring is Creepy" is that it doesn't at all sound like it came out 13 years ago (it originally appeared on the band's debut album, Oh, Inverted World, in 2001). That's seriously impressive.
3. Coldplay — "Don't Panic"
"Don't Panic" is like, one of my favorite Coldplay songs of all time. It's so soothing and atmospheric and catchy. My only complaint is that it's barely over two-minutes long (an issue that's easily remedied by putting the song repeat for a couple of hours...not that I've ever actually done that).
2. Zero 7 — "In the Waiting Line"
I had a really tough time deciding whether or not Zero 7's "In the Waiting Line" deserved the number-one spot. Ultimately, I ended up going with the song that has occasionally sent chills down my spine (see below), but make no mistake — "In the Waiting Line" is ridiculously awesome.
1. Frou Frou — "Let Go"
The Garden State soundtrack is single-handedly responsible for launching my obsession with all things Frou Frou. For that reason alone, "Let Go" deserves the top spot on this list — but it's also just a totally kick-ass song. The swirling strings, singer Imogen Heap's heavenly vocals, the moment when the beat drops for the first time — "Let Go" is just perfect. Much like "Winding Road," the track nicely underscores Garden State's overarching message of putting your fears aside and just "jumping in" and living life to the fullest — no matter what. Ugh, there's that pesky inspirational cheese, again.
Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures