TRACK LIFE: Skrillex – “Scary Monsters (On Strings)”

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Welcome to Track Lifea daily column in which Jacob Knight shares what he thinks to be the best in music, both new and old.

An apology: I know I tout “Track Life” as being a “Daily Feature”, but Screen Invasion had to switch servers recently and it interrupted the flow. So I figured instead of giving you a chopped up version of the column, I’d just wait until everything was squared away so I could start fresh. Please forgive the absence…

Jim offered me the chance to review the Spring Breakers soundtrack a few weeks back and I passed, citing my reluctance to try and judge a film’s accompanying music without actually having seen the movie itself. To me, context is key when reviewing a score, as I have no idea what these pieces of music are cued to and, in the end, am kind of clueless as to whether or not they’re actually affecting pieces of movie music. It’s not like this was some kind of old school, ’90s style “inspired by” collection, but a bonafide score by Cliff Martinez (DriveContagion) and dubstep goofball Skrillex.

I now regret that decision.

While the jury’s still out as to whether or not Spring Breakers is truly as great as the hype surrounding it (though watching an entire generation of context lacking teenage film fans try and swoon over Harmony Korine films and call them “genius” is truly laughable), there’s no denying that the film’s use of music is absolutely brilliant. Alternating between Martinez and Skrillex’s moody, ambient score and a few choice cuts (Gucci Mane’s “Young Niggas” being my personal favorite), each cue perfectly dredges up the picture’s neon drenched visuals like they were some kind of ecstasy laced flashback. But the real treat (and surprise) comes near the end of the album, when Skrillex reconfigures his trademark bass drop anthem “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” into a truly wrenching string piece worthy of the very best chamber orchestra.

If you listen very closely, all of the original song’s notes are present, they just been inverted and twisted, like one of the classiest remixes you’ve ever heard. The track really is a thing of beauty, and heightens the climactic scene it scores to being damn near transcendant. But regardless of whether you’ve seen the film not, it’s still a breathtaking piece of music, and an example I’ll now hold up whenever someone tries to (wrongly) claim that the much reviled electronic musician is a “talentless EDM hack”.


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The Author

Jacob Knight

Jacob Knight

Jacob Knight is a screenwriter, novelist and journalist from Slotter, Mass. He is most times fueled by scotch, horror films and the Criterion Collection. He currently resides in Philadelphia, PA with his wife and cantankerous Westie pup.