After seeing Begin Again in theaters, I was anxious to get my hands on the soundtrack. I couldn’t let go of that initial feeling I had after watching it; and, with a soundtrack with artists from Adam Levine, Keira Knightley and CeeLo Green with Gregg Alexander (frontman of the late 90s alt-rock band New Radicals) at the helm of the soundtrack, this soundtrack beams with all of the feel-good, good-loving, soulful, heart-on-sleeve kind of tunes reminiscent of the movie.
Opening with the hit-number Oscar-worthy “Lost Stars,” sung by Levine and co-written with Alexander in one of the most moving scenes in the movie, we are reminded of what exactly this movie is about.
“Everything about the things that I experienced while making this movie just felt very real,” Levine told ABC News. “It never felt pretend. It always felt like we were making a documentary.”
Perhaps drawing inspiration from real life as frontman of successful pop-rock band Maroon 5, the story of an aspiring musician experiencing a breakthrough to fame that pulls his relationship with Knightley’s character apart may not be all too unfamiliar to him.
But, as the soundtrack follows with Knightley’s “Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home,” an equally uplifting track that is full of percussion, strings, electric guitars and communal singing, the feel-good sentiments of the film’s spirit of love for music is greatly felt. As the heart of the film lies in creating a record, this track, with all its instrumentation and communal music-making, is ultimately what captures that spirit.
Levine’s songs “No One Else Like You” and “A Higher Place” further scream Alexander’s New Radicals-influence.
As a huge fan of the New Radicals songs “You Get What You Give” and “Mother, You Just Can’t Get Enough” (featured in my life-movie A Walk To Remember), the atmosphere Alexander was able to create in these songs is full of life with driving guitars, rhythmic beats and jazzy piano runs. Alexander sure does have a knack for making the crowd clap and your head bop in these songs, which I feel was perfect for the spirit of Begin Again.
Likewise, as the soundtrack features two songs led by the groovy CeeLo Green, “Horny” and “Women Of The World (Go On Strike!), we can only assume from their titles that these songs are fun as heck. Unsurprisingly speaking of feeling attracted to and “horny” from someone, as well as the latter uplifting women and reminding all that women of the world really do rule the world–for men wouldn’t be men without them–Green’s addition to the soundtrack really is pleasant.
Knightley’s raw version of “Lost Stars,” “Like A Fool,” and “Coming Up Roses” allow for a break from the upbeat, anthem-filled tunes of Levine and Green. Almost feeling like we’ve awoken from a mist, Knightley’s soft voice is, in a way, angelic and fragile, which allows for that feeling of wearing her heart on her sleeve, catching a glimpse of a songwriter’s bare heart.
As “Like A Fool” captures one ingenious moment in the film–in which I won’t ruin–“Coming Up Roses” is almost like a sweet lullaby of a tune including the joys of youthful voices. These songs written for Knightley’s character are perhaps reflective and introspective, reminding you of the heart of where songwriting lies–from yourself and your life stories–just as Begin Again so often tells.
Sprinkling in songs from Alexander’s latest project-of-a-band (as I’d only assume) Cessyl Orchestra, we’re further forgiven in the fact that we are allowed to enjoy some of his own feel-good tunes in a soundtrack that is equally inspired by his spirit.
Overall, this soundtrack is one I feel any music-lover can enjoy. A music writer, player or enthusiast will appreciate this album; any remote commercial listener will find themselves bobbing their head to this album; but, I feel that this soundtrack is something of an adult-contemporary, easy-listening collection. It’s got a little something for everyone, for how can one not find themselves not wanting to dance or bob their head to it? (If any of you who have watched the movie got the reference, kudos.)
And, for anyone who buys the deluxe version on iTunes, you’ll be graced with a few extra tracks, featuring an “Into The Night Mix” of Levine’s “Lost Stars,” “Rooftop Mix” of Knightley’s “Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home” and a few other Cessyl Orchestra tunes.
Lastly, as a fond lover of this film, soundtrack and music, I highly recommend you give this soundtrack a listen. If you love music in any way, shape or form (whatever that means), I dare you to give it a listen. Because, I know you won’t regret it. It’ll make you feel oh so good. (I almost want to swoon. Side note: Thank you Gregg Alexander for making me want to swoon. Your voice is heavenly. But your magic on this soundtrack is even lovelier.)
Listen to Levine perform “Lost Stars” below. (And check out my review of the film here.)
Thank you for the thoughtful review Rachel. Gregg Alexander’s penchant for pop tunes is undeniably one of the draws of this soundtrack and the movie. Once I found out that he penned most of the score, I downloaded it and listened to it prior to seeing the film, which added a greater context to the music. I’ve not been a fan Ms. Knightley acting, but she delivers a solid performance in the film, as well as Mr’s. Levin and Ruffalo, as a man down on his luck (life) and is rebuilt finding meaning in Knightley’s music and companionship. The perfectly fused soundtrack is about building and believing.
Thank YOU for your equally insightful comment! I’m so glad to have stumbled on another New Radicals/Gregg Alexander fan. You’re so right when you say the soundtrack is about building and believing–that’s ultimately what the film strives to promote. The music so aptly reminisces on the film. After all, the songs derive from the characters’ personal lives, and Alexander did a wonderful job at telling their lives while also capturing the spirit of them.
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Thanks for the fantastic review
of the music from BEGIN AGAIN.
What is the name and artist of the
irresistible dance tune (the song
that no one is suppose to dance to)?
Sadly, it is not on the movie’s soundtrack I bought. Thanks
After some heavy researching, I looked into all of the tunes used in the film and believe the song is “Thinking About Your Love” by Skipworth & Turner.
Thank you for reading! I was quite sad it wasn’t on the soundtrack as well.
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Saw this movie over the weekend, not knowing anything about the soundtrack. It was pretty funny to hear “No One Else Like You” and other tunes that instantly revealed themselves to have been written by Gregg Alexander—almost comically so, his musical fingerprints being impossible to disguise. Sat through the closing credits to confirm that his name would be attached to most of the songs, even though it was already very obvious. I quite enjoyed the movie, despite the avalanche of cliches and plot flaws. (My favorite absurd conceit of the film is that the “recorded live in the streets” songs all sound extremely slick and studio-produced as they are being performed—which they naturally are.)
Yes, there still is a bit of production value to the movie that makes it more “clean-cut” and “glamorized” than otherwise. I guess we can’t expect much else from a film like this, even if it is “indie.” But yes, Alexander’s musical fingerprint is so distinguishable! I myself got lost in the world of the film that I didn’t notice at first, but once I took heavier notice into the music, I could definitely hear his magic. The soundtrack has Gregg written all over it! I almost forgot how insanely feel-good New Radicals were. Awesome you were able to point it out early on.
I have only really had the same experience once before: years ago, I heard Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” on the radio for the first time and was actually laughing out loud by how obvious it was to me that Meat Loaf writer/producer Jim Steinman had written it. Many people have pointed out that Gregg Alexander’s best songs seem to have been inspired by my #1 idol Todd Rundgren—so it was chilling to get to see Todd cover “Someday We’ll Know” with Hall & Oates. Since you love Alexander so much, I hope you’ll explore some Rundgren (check out “Waiting Game” or “Determination” on YouTube). And speaking of YouTube, I enjoyed some of your covers, i.e., Katy Perry…they are outstanding. 🙂
Wait. Did I hear HALL & OATES? So this Rundgren covered an Alexander song with Hall & Oates? Wow. That’s just awesome. Hall & Oates is probably by far my favorite 80s rock duo.
And goodness, you’ve seen my covers? Haha, well thank you for reaching out and chatting with me! It means a lot to hear that 🙂
Todd and Daryl are both from PA and drew inspiration from the Philly blue-eyed soul sound. In fact, Todd produced a Hall & Oates album back in the 1970s and plays on some others. Their duet of “Someday We’ll Know” is on YouTube. And yes, your YouTube contributions are great fun; I’m totally grooving to all of them…even playing along on my own acoustic guitar!
I’m definitely going to check out that cover! (I’m not sure why I saw your comment so late.) I actually saw Hall & Oates in concert a couple weeks ago. So much fun–as I’d imagine!
Oh my gosh. I just checked it out. It’s almost like a dream come true! First off, I fell in love with this song when I first heard it in “A Walk To Remember.” I’ve identified with it so much. So New Radicals instantly became a favorite. But Hall & Oates have FOREVER been my favorite 80’s soul duo of all time! Wow, this is mind-blowing… The integrity of that feel-good song is still felt in their rendition. And they added such a nice touch. I love it. Thank you so much for letting me know about it! 🙂
I have never seen the movie but only heard the soundtrack which I’m totally addicted to right now. I’m thinking if the movie is as good as the soundtrack then we have a winner here! It’s so good to hear Gregg’s voice again, his voice just takes the music into another dimension. Thanks for the detailed review can’t wait to watch the movie.
Definitely. Gregg has such a distinct, feel-good style that his spirit is DEFINITELY felt throughout the film. If you love the soundtrack, I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate the film even more! Let me know how you like it. Became one of my faves of the year 🙂
Reblogged this on Conversations I Wish I Had and commented:
Yey for soundtracks. I love soundtracks. ❤
My favorite soundtrack since Garden State. I, too, was able to pick out the obvious presence of New Radicals’ Gregg Alexander–whom I loved in the 90s but had wondered ever since what had happened to him. “You Get What You Give” was such an awesome rebirth of the Todd Rundgren sound from the 70s! I loved it.
So surprised to see that those were really Ms. Knightly’s vocals. Nice! And Adam Levine and Ceelo Green’s work is sublime and fitting.
P.S. Todd produced and his UTOPIA band-mates played on all songs for Hall & Oates first album “War Babies” which is an awesome album. Todd & his band also provided instrument and song-writing and production support for Meat Loaf’s first two albums. The litany of Todd contributions is long and star-studded. Check his 1972-5 albums out “Something/Anything,” “Todd,” “A Wizard/A True Star” and “Initiation.”
My favorite was “Mother, You Just Can’t Get Enough!” It’s so lovely to see the New Radicals presence in the soundtrack–so greatly felt, it’s the whole spirit of the album! I absolutely LOVED Keira’s raw vocals. And it’s awesome to see how interconnected great musicians can be. Hall & Oates are one of my all-time faves.
rachelannc: Not only are you super cute and right on with your synopsis; I thoroughly enjoy meeting people (virtually-ha) that can appreciate artists past/present and in collaboration. I’m so happy to have an opinion 🙂
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Begin Again is one of my wife’s favorite movies. She just recently had me watch it and though I didn’t like it quite as much as she does, I did enjoy it. I really like the soundtrack, however. Despite the fact that it’s not the style of music I normally listen to at all! I was surprised by how good the songs were.
The only thing that has me disappointed is that the whole premise of the movie’s music was that they were catching the ambience of the city onto the album, but the actual released soundtrack isn’t like that (unless there’s a different version than what’s on Spotify). I wish it had the versions of the songs in the movie. Like when the guy yells at them through the window and Ruffalo is like “Just two more minutes!” and all the other ambient sounds present in the movie versions. Just odd that they left out such a huge premise of the movie.
However, that’s not gonna stop me from enjoying this soundtrack. Fantastic review!
I’m glad you watched the movie and loved it! This movie has been one of my lasting favorite movies throughout the years, and the soundtrack and music definitely makes it stand apart. Never get tired of the soundtrack — and the music manages to say a lot!
And ah, I guess the ambient city noises are in the film to make it flesh with the movie, while the soundtrack serves to listen to apart from movie commentary. Usually happens with movies and their soundtracks. Thank you so much for reading my review and commenting! Love hearing your thoughts.