Tracks/Length: 16 tracks, 61 minutes
Notable Guest Appearances: Birdy, Ed Sheeran
Album Genre/Tone: Soundtrack to the film. Think Summer love, loss, and freedom – with one Swedish rap song thrown in.
Lead Single: “All of the Stars”by Ed Sheeran
The mythical A+: Pretty much the best eargasm you’ve ever experienced. This is the album you will be listening to when you are sixty and your grandchildren will be judging you for.
A: All you need to appreciate this album is two ears connected to a heart. Whether it’s the deeper message, the prolific beats or memorable lyrics, everybody should be listening to this record.
B: If you like the genre, then you will love this album. You might keep it on repeat for a month, but it will eventually find itself in the bowels of your shuffle list. Hardcore fans of the artist will disagree with this rating, but it can be considered more niche than universally enjoyable.
C: There are a solid tracks, but it’s really only worth a few rotations as a complete package. Those not into the genre probably shouldn’t even bother. It’s the musical equivalent of a sad handjob.
D: This album fails, in most aspects, to make a good or lasting impression. However, some out there might find joy in it, if even for only a few songs.
F: The only thing this album is good for is to make your ears bleed. You should steal every copy of this album and throw them all into a fire for a sacrifice ceremony meant to disband the demons living in the CD. And I say steal because it is obviously not worth the money. Or it would make a great gift for your enemies.
History Behind the Album
Based on the New York Times Best Selling novel, so far the film The Fault in Our Stars has gained wild success, earning $48,200,000 as of June 8th and $26.1 million opening day, beating out Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow ($10.7 million) and even fellow Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s Divergent ($22.8 million). Rolling Stone Magazine called it “a fresh, lively love story, brimming with humor and heartbreak”. The soundtrack to the film has had similar success. As of June 8th, it has the number one spot on iTunes with “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX landing at number seven on the Top Singles list.
If you’re interested in seeing the movie, check out my review here.
What You’re in For
Compiled mostly of singer-song writer and alternative pop tracks, this album sings Summer, a tone which is appropriate given the film’s June release date, and bounces back and forth between feel good and somber. The album contains fifteen tracks plus a bonus track by Birdy and Jaymes Young. Speaking of Birdy, she is all over this album with three songs “Tee Shirt,” “Not About Angels,” and “Best Shot.” She was also asked to perform for the film’s pre-debut showing “The Night Before Our Stars,” where she played “Not About Angels” solo on piano.
While I’ve been playing all of these songs on repeat since the album was released, my favorite has got to be “Bomfelleralla” by Afasi & Filthy. The Swedish odd one out of the album, it’s upbeat, take-on-the-world feel has gotten me out of many-a-funk. The song feels out of place until you see the film and realize it is played by the character Van Houten during a conversation with Hazel and Augustus.
One of the few critiques I have of the album is that a few songs were left out of it. One thing that is particularly surprising is that it doesn’t include the score of the film, which is sparse but just as good. OneRepublic’s “If That’s What You Wanted” can be heard in the trailer, but is nowhere on the album nor in the film. There is one song sung by Issac (or rather screamed by Issac) whilst in an emotional meltdown, “Rules” by Nat & Alex Wolff, that I also would have liked to see in the soundtrack; however, the song was not released until after the soundtrack dropped.
I also wish Hank Green, who is author John Green’s brother, had been somehow included on the album. Hank is a singer-songwriter who primarily write songs about Harry Potter and nerd culture. He is one half of the YouTube channel “The Vlogbrothers” whose fans have been a huge part of “The Fault in Our Stars” since the before its publication. Having Hank on this album might not have fit the tone quite as much, but seeing as he was so much a part of the culture that grew around the book, it seemed appropriate. You can check out Hank’s music here.
Songs On Repeat
“Long Way Down” by Tom Odell
Lyrics to Go: ” Walking on the rooftops/Talking of times/With our eyes a glowing/Like the city lights/She stands on the ledge/She says, ‘it looks so high”
When it comes to the film, this song expresses not only the love story between Hazel and Augustus but also explains a lot of the other themes and relationships in the film. Cancer, love, pain, life; it’s a long, hard journey. You need the people you love and connect with most to get through it. The problem is Hazel and Augustus’time in this world is precarious. Losing either of them would make their loved ones feel like the world has dropped out from under them and they’d fall a long time before being able to get up again.
This can also be seen in the relationship between Hazel and her parents. At one point *SPOILER* Hazel’s mother painfully expresses that if her daughter were to die, she wouldn’t be a mother anymore and it is something that lays heavily on Hazel heart throughout the novel.
“Boom Clap” by Charli XCX
Lyrics to Go: ” You’re picture perfect blue/Sunbathing on the moon/Stars shining as your bones illuminate/First kiss just like a drug/Under your influence/ You take me over you’re the magic in my veins/ This must be love”
This song is just genuinely good to jam to. I’ll admit to jumping around my bedroom dancing with this blaring in the background. It’s definitely the happiest track on the album and juxtaposes nicely against the singer-songwriter tunes. It celebrates the giddiness the comes with love and is paired well with a scene in which Hazel and Gus’s plane touches down in Amsterdam. They’re incredibly excited, hearts beating fast as the song suggests. Having this new place to explore and meet their idol in makes them feel alive; something they haven’t felt in a long time.
“Bomfalleralla” by Afasi & Filthy
Lyrics to Go: (Translated from Swedish) “I expose my chest, must you have time to gore me/ So come on and fight back before you change your mind/ Chew through the aorta/ That transports oxygen for the whole worlds god damn reality TV”
As Van Houten points out during the film, not knowing Swedish shouldn’t keep you from enjoying this song. It’s got a great beat and while it sticks out from the rest of the songs on the album, it’s just as good. It’s the only rap song in the mix as well as the only song not in English. It can be loosely connected to Hazel’s feeling of being a grenade. One day she will die and it will be like a bomb exploded, making her feel like it’s her responsibility to minimize the casualties.
“Not About Angels” by Birdy
Lyrics to Go: “We know full well there’s just time/So is it wrong to toss this line?/If your heart was full of love/Could you give it up?/’Cause what about, what about angels?/They will come, they will go, make us special”
To me, this is Hazel’s song. She refuses to romanticize her illness. She understands that she is dying and there is very little she can do about it. She is frustrated that this is the life she has to live, but she is very much a realist. The last line in this song, “It’s not about angels,”really sums up Hazel’s feelings and how people treat both her and her cancer. She’s tired of everyone trying to find a way around it and the only reason she even continues treatment is to make her parents happy. Her disease is not something to be fluffed up with prayers and false ideals of how long her life will be. It’s cancer. It hurts. She only has so much time left and she wishes people would accept that.
This song is hauntingly beautiful. It’s perfect for a rainy day and is able to make me both sad and certain. Birdy performed “Not About Angels”at “The Night Before Our Stars”the day before the film was released. Upon completion, Shailene Woodley (Hazel) could not answer questions for several minutes because she was so overcome with tears.
The Quick and Dirty
This album is definitely one you want in your music library this Summer whether or not you’ve seen the movie. It is full of songs either to soothe your broken heart or get you jamming on a bright Summer day. It costs $11.99 on iTunes and is available everywhere CD’s are sold. It should be noted that only several songs are not available on iTunes unless you buy the whole album, which is totally worth it.