Trainspotting Soundtrack Review: Will T2 Compare?

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Trainspotting has become synonymous with its soundtrack over the course of its 20 years of existence. From Renton re-discovering his libido to the tune of ‘Atomic’ by Sleeper, to coming close to death with ‘Perfect Day’ ironically playing out in the foreground. These moments have become immortalised by the soundtrack. So, not much pressure for the sequel then.

The film kicks off with ‘Lust For Life’ by Iggy Pop in its now infamous opening scene, where we are first introduced to Renton, Sick Boy and Spud, careering along the grimy streets of a 1996 era Edinburgh. It provides quite the bouncy and energetic start to a film in which such optimism rarely takes the helm. Indeed, Trainspotting is often credited with resurrecting Iggy Pop’s career (Step aside Bowie), with the now legendary star’s ‘Nightclubbing’ also making an appearance later on.

The one common factor that all the songs on this soundtrack share more than anything, is that they are all grounded in the realities of the film. During Renton’s stint in London for example, which is rudely interrupted by a wanted Begbie (armed robbery of a jewelry shop in Corstorphine if you were wondering) ‘Mile End’ by Pulp takes centre stage. A song about a pretty grimy place to say the least, “The lift is always full of piss, the fifth floor landing smells of fish”. During the course of this number, Begbie (eventually joined by Sick Boy) slowly turns Renton’s reasonably respectable, paid-for flat, into the old familiar dive that Renton escaped from in Edinburgh.

Possibly the only drawback, although arguably inevitable after 20 years, is that some of the songs do sound extremely dated now, without the nostalgia attached to most 80’s music for example. Take ‘Think About The Way’ from Ice Mc and Campbell I.C. which is played as the the establishing shots for London take place. It’s your classic 90’s rave banger, complete with obsolete synthesizers and a so-bad-its-good Jamaican rap. At the time, in 1996, this was current, music was changing as Renton puts it, so lets just be glad that musical progress didn’t halt there.

So how will T2 compare to this soundtrack? Well the tracklist has just been released:

It features some of the usual suspects, Iggy Pop and Underworld, alongside newcomers like Wolf Alice and High Contrast, so perhaps we can see Danny Boyle trying to walk the line between the film’s original audience and its younger fans here. But are we going to get a musical Force Awakens? Will we, in true South Park fashion, member?

I think considering the respect and admiration the original film has managed to gather since ’96, an element of soundtrack nostalgia is inevitable. That said, as long as the songs used make sense when they are played, as per Trainspotting mark 1, then I have no quarrel with the use of the same or similar artists. I just hope that we don’t get a remix of the original film. I don’t want to member, I want to discover.

Trainspotting 2 comes out on the 27th January in U.K Cinemas.

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