I'll be honest. When "Batman Forever" came out, I was hyped. I was 12 years old and I couldn’t get enough of it. Today, after watching it again for the first time in years: Jim Carrey's Riddler is holy annoying and Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face was just.. Bad. I wasn't a huge Val Kilmer fan, either (And we won't talk about Chris O'Donnel's Robin.) There were so many ways that Joel Shumacher just went completely wrong.
That being said - Years later I look back and i still stand by it legit has one of the *BEST* Soundtracks.
It intrduced me to Nick Cave. It also made me look up The Offspring's cover of "Smash it up" which turned me on to The Damned (Who put out one of my all time favorite albums, "Grave Disorder"). There were SO many gems on this album – The Devlins’ “Crossing the River”, The Flaming Lips “Bad Days”, PJ Harvey’s “One Time Too Many”, Massive Attack & Tracey Thorne covering fucking Smokey Robinson’s “The Hunter gets Captured by They Prey”
You also had a few “iconic” pop hits on there that have stood the test of time and, for what it’s worth, are still pretty fantastic for what they are in the way of Seal's “Kiss From A Rose” and U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”.
The gems don’t stop there, though. You also had Eddie Reader “Nobody Lives Without Love”, Brandy (Feat. Lenny Kravitz) “Where Are You Now?”, Method Man “The Riddler”, Nick Cave's "There Is A Light" (Which turned me into a lifelong Cave/Bad Seeds fan) and one of my personal favorites – one of the final recordings of INXS front-man Michael Hutchence, a cover of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger”.
Now take a second, run back over that mix. If that’s not one of the most eclectic lineups for a soundtrack, I don’t know what is – But here’s the thing that makes this stand out so much. They’re all REALLY good songs in their own right. Most soundtracks these days, you’re lucky to get one or two songs that are passable for a few listens, but for the most part are throwaways. Top to bottom, there’s not a single song on the whole soundtrack that I find myself saying “nah. That’s just garbage.” As a kid I ran through that soundtrack time and time again – pretty much wearing out the CD (Yeah. It went into enough CD players that I ended up scratching the heck out of it beyond repair. Oops.) So, recently feeling nostalgic, I decided to take a few minutes to see if 2017, cynical me could still stand it, and quite frankly, I can still call it a favorite.
That all being said, how can I make the claim that “Batman changed my life?” after rambling about a soundtrack? That’s actually pretty simple – see, it’s no secret that I’m a cover song junkie. I’ll gladly blame this soundtrack for causing me to realize that – it’s BECAUSE of this soundtrack that I had fallen in love with the idea of musicians interpreting pre-established material in their own style. Had it been done before? Absolutely, but it honestly had to have been The Offspring’s take on “Smash it Up” that made me stop and think for a second “this sounds familiar..” which set me off on a mission to find out WHY.
Of course, it didn’t take long to find The Damned’s original version – which I loved – so of course I decided to run through the rest of the album to see who else had covered what, which led me to Iggy Pop/The Stooges, etc. Mind you, It took until I was about 18 or 19 to really dive in and really start taking into account how much of a tune junkie I was (Late Bloomers, ya know?)
I suppose the entire point of me going off and writing about how a shitty movie changed my life… Well. It kind of writes itself – Somebody’s trash can absolutely end up as somebody else’s treasure. I’d like to personally thank Joel Shumacher for creating a film that the studio knew wouldn’t sell (Because, seriously did they even bother reading the script?), so they put an AWESOME soundtrack behind it so that some random guy on the internet can write an article about it 22 years later..
And for your entertainment - here is that AMAZING cover of Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" courtesy of the late Michael Hutchence.