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Soundtrack Review: ‘Begin Again’

Jenny Kim |
September 8, 2014 | 1:26 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Picture via @ImagineFMStudio)
(Picture via @ImagineFMStudio)
Award-winning director and writer John Carney took to his new indie film “Begin Again” to not only criticize the music industry, but also tell an unpredictable love story - not one particularly about a couple in love, but more so a love story of family, friendship, and music. With a team full of talented songwriters and his previous experience through renowned the music-film “Once,” Carney produces an unbelievable movie soundtrack featuring the captivating voices of Adam Levine and Keira Knightley, as well as the charming sounds of the New York City cityscape to create a romance with the city itself and all those who embody it. 

READ MORE: Film Review: 'Begin Again'

Keira Knightley’s voice throughout the soundtrack was a very pleasant surprise. Light and romantic, though somewhat lacking the talent of Adam Levine's, Knightly's voice is very well-accompanied in songs like “Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home” and “Coming Up Roses.” The live instruments that accompany her fresh voice creates a perfect harmony that makes it charming and addicting. It suits Knightley’s character Greta, who always preaches that the rawness of the music is enough to stimulate emotion and incite inspiration. Through her retaliation against the music industry in response to her ex-boyfriend’s yield to fame and pop culture, Greta creates an amazing album of her own which emphasizes not only her voice, but the beauty of the city and the power of music — even without the assistance of superfluous technology to shroud the pure magic of music alone. 

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Alongside Knightley’s subtle and delicate songs, Adam Levine and CeeLo Green feature tracks that are more representational of what the music industry produces today. Although their tracks are a lot more fabricated and technology heavy than those of Knightley's, it is still not bad to listen to. Levine’s vocals on songs such as “A Higher Place” and “No One Else Like You” are much more Maroon 5-esque with catchy choruses and addicting melodies. Adam Levine’s character, Dave Kohl, serves to be pretty much an exact portrayal of Levine's actual persona in the music industry. However, as a fan of Adam Levine, and moreover Maroon 5, these songs are among my favorite. Levine’s rendition of “Lost Stars” really stands out among the other tracks and positions itself to be the best song on the album. The light strumming of the guitar along with Levine’s impeccable falsetto oozes with emotion and passion, creating a melodious and airy quality that inspires chills. The juxtaposition between Levine’s original version of “Lost Stars” and its remixed counterpart truly indicates the loss of quality that is suffered through the production process. CeeLo Green’s tracks, also heavily produced, still have a quality that emits character. However strange Green’s song “Horny” may be, it is catchy due to its fun rhythm and strangely charming lyrics. Sooner or later, you will find yourself singing along. 

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It was smart of Carney to cast experienced musicians such as Adam Levine, CeeLo Green, and Mos Def in this music-film in order to validate his criticism of the music scene. The over-production of music, which the industry often encourages, not only loses its power to move, but also presents superficiality which the film so blatantly condemns. What makes this soundtrack so special is that a majority of the songs prove that music can still be enjoyed without it being "stadium pop," as Greta calls it. Although the film is the medium that ultimately delivers the message that Carney and his creative team are trying to send, the songs serve as a great reinforcer to the film’s central moral compass — to always pursue the true you. Carney’s endearing film, “Begin Again” is comprised of amazing songs written with love and sung with soul that will MosDef(initely) bring joy to those who hear it. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jenny Kim here.



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