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.)