The teen movie turns twenty this week, and the soundtrack is littered with nostalgia
ƒIn the latest development in exactly how old you’ve become recently, American Pie turns 20 years old this week. Exactly two (!) decades on from the release of the Weitz brothers’ teen movie (which made a staggering £188 million at the box office back in 1999) it now trades almost exclusively on its nostalgic value despite the fact that it hasn’t aged particularly gracefully.
Sex-obsessed, male-dominated and somehow more cringeworthy than a Levenstein father-son chat about a homemade apple pie, the bawdy premise of American Pie is totally at odds with Hollywood’s embrace of the #MeToo era, and would now surely be chucked in the bin by any major movie studio at the first pitch meeting. Indeed, Seann William Scott’s nomination for ‘Choice Sleazebag’ at the 2000 Teen Choice Awards for his take on Stifler appropriately sums up the very different age in which American Pie existed.
The film’s guilty pleasure status persists, though, and American Pie‘s 20th anniversary this week will still have plenty of people digging out their well-worn VHS copy for a sneaky viewing. The familiarity of seeing Jim dancing, recalling the oft-quoted (in secondary school playgrounds, anyway) “Band Camp” lines or being confronted by the, ahem, Shermanator will be brought into even sharper focus by hearing cuts from American Pie‘s bright and optimistic soundtrack, curated during the days when pop-punk and alt-rock ruled the airwaves. 13 guitar-heavy tracks by bands such as Blink-182, Goldfinger and Barenaked Ladies formed the official soundtrack album, while the likes of Hole, Everclear and, just for curveball’s sake, Marvin Gaye all had their songs featured in the film.
Even if you’ve moved on and aren’t planning on a commemorative re-watch of the film this week, this selection of American Pie tracks might just transport you back to that hazy summer of 1999.
Third Eye Blind – ‘New Girl’
San Francisco’s Third Eye Blind welcomed viewers to East Great Falls High School with the sprightly ‘New Girl’ (just after Jim is, er, introduced). The group are still going strong today, with plans to release a brand new album and an ongoing tour with Jimmy Eat World keeping them more than busy. The infuriatingly catchy ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ also pops up in American Pie for some bonus TEB.
Barenaked Ladies – ‘One Week’
Barenaked Ladies might seem like they came up with their band name during the writing sessions for American Pie, but the Canadian band have managed to overcome their own titular-enforced barriers to release a whopping 16 albums over the years. The snappy ‘One Week’, which came out in 1998 – memorably heard in American Pie‘s final scene, remains their best track, though.
Bic Runga – ‘Sway’
New Zealand artist Bic Runga enjoyed her first international hit in 1997, with the delicate 90s soft-rock of ‘Sway’. It was a fixture on the soundtracks of both American Pie and the 2012 sequel American Reunion. File next to Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’ cover, which also came out in ’97.
Blink-182 – ‘Mutt’
The break-out era of Blink-182 and American Pie go hand-in-hand, don’t they? The trio, who also have a brief cameo in the film, unleashed ‘Enema of the State’ a month prior to American Pie‘s release. But rather than pitching for the use of ‘All The Small Things’ or ‘What’s My Age Again?’ American Pie instead got ‘Mutt’. Not a bad Blink song by any means, but not exactly one of their mega-hits, either.
Marvin Gaye – ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)’
One of the genuinely heartwarming aspects of American Pie is the romance between Oz and Heather, with the former briefly rebelling against his jock instincts to instead embrace sensitivity (come on, that’s a big step for any American Pie character) and, er, a Capella choir singing. The couple’s rendition of Gaye’s ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)’ towards the end of the movie is one of its more wholesome, sickly-sweet moments.
Hole – ‘Celebrity Skin’
‘Celebrity Skin’ was Courtney Love‘s wry take on being swallowed up by Hollywood as her movie career took off in the mid-to-late 90s, and the song itself quickly became Hole’s ferocious calling card (as well as the titular track from their 1998 album). Courtney probably didn’t envision it soundtracking one of American Pie‘s many sex scenes, though.
Goldfinger – ‘Vintage Queen’
Long-running ska-punk heroes Goldfinger’s ‘Vintage Queen’ tells such an angst-y tale that it just had to be included on the soundtrack to American Pie in order to more accurately balance out the experience of being a teenager in high school. Everybody suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks!
Everclear – ‘Everything to Everyone’
Continuing an ongoing theme of musical angst, Everclear’s ‘Everything to Everyone’ would’ve definitely appealed to the oversized chequered-shirt and three-quarter-length short-wearing teens who attended East Great Falls in the late ’90s. While it didn’t make the cut on the official soundtrack, the song can be heard in the background at the film’s concluding after-prom party.
Semisonic’s Dan Wilson & Bic Runga – ‘Good Morning Baby’
Runga’s second entry on this list sees her teaming up with Semisonic’s (remember them?) Dan Wilson for the kind of collaboration that must’ve been considered American college radio gold back in 1999. American Pie‘s head of music certainly thought it was a match made in heaven anyway, and chucked it right onto the soundtrack.
Bachelor Number One – ‘Summertime’
As the credits roll on American Pie, former Wanderlust musician Scot Sax’s short-lived project Bachelor Number One play us out with ‘Summertime’ (which now goes by the title ‘I Am The Summertime’ on Spotify). While its inclusion on the soundtrack didn’t exactly lead to a subsequent induction into the hall of fame of classic movie songs, ‘Summertime”s presence on American Pie at least means that we’re still talking about it 20 years later — we’re sure Sax therefore remains pretty grateful to the enduring pull of Jim, Oz, Kevin, Finch and the rest of the American Pie gang two decades on.