After the sensual similarities between the love anthems of Batman Forever and American Pie, a less excitable film was necessary to broaden the palette. Having discussed some of the iconic aural experiences of the millennial music era, we were both hankering for some of the more obvious hits. We needed a film that would pander to the lowest common denominator, lower than even randy hormonal teenagers. Dumb children.
While the soundtracks to our prior conversations could be suitable for an organised party, by indoctrinating young minds with sudden blasts of these popular number ones, they would certainly plead to have these CDs to play on repeat endlessly. This is the exact cultural osmosis we had pledged to investigate and one of us was in fact a victim to our very next choice.
Alexander had avoided the craze, being raised pure on pocket monsters, whereas I, Devon, had struck out on the alternative Japanese animation brought to the West. Digimon had infected my conscious with a bevy of plump analytical jumping off points; the heavy hitters, the wayward trend leeches, and most disturbingly, that damned Angela Anaconda short that preluded the home release. I mean, seriously, what was that show?
Our ska cherries have been popped and we are tired old daddies.
Devon: Should we get right into the sweet meat of track one, then, or perhaps an amuse-bouche of just what this whole Digimon thing actually is?
Alexander: I suppose a brief introduction to the show would be beneficial. From my experience, Digimon is about a bunch of creatures that are not Pokemon, but, behave like Pokemon.
D: I will try to condense all this lore together, both show, game, and film. Digimon: The Movie is the second in Japan’s iconic trilogy, between Pokemon and Juwanna Mann. The series in my memory is Pokemon meets Lost; a group of kids together at summer camp are sucked into a digital world, Tron-style, and have digital monsters that encourage them toward fighting corruption in their world. I always reference to Lost because there were these weird phone boxes found on a beach early on. I never quite learnt the exact purpose of those, I assume it was a metaphor for philosophy, the human condition, or some other mystery box junk.
A: I think all this lore put me off as a child; I was the type of kid who simply wanted to see some creatures mess shit up and destroy each other. Story? in a television show? No thank you!
D: Just give me a kid that wants to be the very best. Preferably, one that can be the best through the power of never aging throughout decades of seasons.
A: That’s all I’m asking for! A child who wants to be the best because he has a small electric mouse.
D: That is not the case with Digimon, which brings in a weird amount of danger to our reality. A clear case of this in the film’s prologue; less Pokemon and more Godzilla, as they literally destroy a city block fighting each other. We’re not even at the threat of nuking Japan yet.
A: Wow, okay. It had more of an edge than Pokemon, which explains why the soundtrack was so filled with edgy pop punk. So sharp you could slice your hungry ears off.
D: I feel like Deputymon is a good summary up their edge over the competition. Pokemon never die; they just pass out. These guys, though, have monsters made of guns.
A: I had no idea you were allowed to show guns in children’s’ shows. This was the wild, wild willennium.
D: This is one of the lead goodies in the series; he has arm guns like that kid in The Matrix.
A: Y2K is coming. Screw it. Give him a Smith and Wesson for Christ sake. It really is like a 9gag post ‘what if Pokemon had guns?’
D: And jeans.
A: Blastoise technically had a gun right? A water cannon? If they have no physical option but to have a weapon, they get away with it.
D: If we’ve learnt anything, it’s that if weapons are biologically fused into our bodies à la Tetsuo: The Iron Man, then it’s fine. That’s Digimon, then, and the movie, which is three Japanese movies strung together. It also builds on the concept that the Digimon can enter our internet, physically eat it for power, and that computer viruses can infect and corrupt them.
A: As long as they don’t eat Napster, because that’s where I keep all my Mighty Mighty Bosstones MP3s.
D: I see you’re eager to get into the digi-music of this. Right before that, I’d like to just point out one of the Japanese titles; Digimon Adventure 02: Digimon Hurricane Landing!! / Transcendent Evolution!! The Golden Digimentals.
A: To quote Tobias, “you sir are a mouthful!” It’s like they had three options and went for all of them.
D: With another segue of mouthful, let’s get onto the main course.
Digi Rap M.C. Pea Pod
A: I thought I knew nothing of the Digimon-verse, but I did remember the theme song once I heard it. That weird way they say CHAMP-YON.
D: Here’s the rub; it samples the theme, but is missing the kick ass, emotional chorus and, instead, adds Will Smith like rap lyrics over the beat. With that, I’m not sure how you weren’t caught up on the lore with just this.
A: I think I was so overwhelmed by… everything going on in the song that I didn’t really drink in the lyrics. It’s hard to drink them in when it feels like you’re having acid thrown at you from several directions, which is what this song is to me.
D: As the lyrics go, “Did ya see? Did ya hear? Did ya know it was coming?” You clearly did not.
A: I wasn’t warned! This song sounds so much older than 2000, it’s almost kind of ’80’s, and not in a good way.
D: It has that Rapper’s Delight pacing of just telling a story that happens to rhyme. “With digi-will and digi-vice in hand, do the digi-dynamics towards the digi-land! When your digi-past and digi-present collide!” Can you digi it?
A: The very boisterous vocals are very 101, ‘Well my name is X and I’m here to say’. Credit where credit is due, they do tell the story. How come The Sopranos didn’t start with a song like this? Well once upon a time was a man named Tone, he was a big bad boy and he liked to break a bone.
D: “Digimon’s making a scene their kicking it up. Kick it up to the big screen.” It also takes a meta narrative approach and literally explains how the popular series itself is now becoming a theatrical release. That truly is the most ‘and I’m here to say’.
A: It’s a real feat of storytelling. Not like all the garbage in music these days! All these rap stars with their important political messages and whatnot. Just rap about cartoon creatures, that’s where it’s at.
D: Extremely concise storytelling too, “let’s wrap this up, let’s wrap this up”. They honestly let us know when the opening song is coming to a close. We’ve already sat through five minutes of Angela Anaconda, they cannot afford to test our nubile attention spans any longer.
A: ‘Sorry for this convoluted explanation, now let’s get the ‘toons kicking in the nation, also sorry for explaining the explanation, heck, I did it again, okay, let’s go guys.’
D: Rounding that up, say, you like rap? Have you ever heard of M.C. Pea Pod before?
A: Of course I have, I have all his albums! Who doesn’t?! Oh, wait, sorry, I was thinking of De La Soul. No, I have no idea who he is.
D: He’s up there as one of the best members of The Sugarhill Gang, right after Cal Solomon. Let’s move onto some bands that we do know, and know very well.
All Star Smash Mouth
A: The backwards baseball-capped elephant in the room. Now, the weird thing is, Shrek was on TV, the other day, and I was genuinely struck by how weird it is that All Star is actually in it. Even more so that it’s a real song.
D: It sure is a powerful and strange song, like Stonehenge; we all know it, love it, but just where the heck did it come from, and why does it have such a magical aura?
A: So true, and now that it’s been buried under mountains of memes, it’s weird to find it still living and breathing underneath it all. It’s an artefact more than a song.
D: It’s a song that’s had a train run on it by Hollwood for some time. The internet claims it as The Shrek Song, cinephiles remember it as The Mystery Men Song, and some millennials recall it vaguely as The Digimon Song.
A: I don’t fit into any of those markets; for me it’s The Rat Race Anthem. I have no real opinion on the song particularly, it’s like air, or water; whether you like it or not, you need it, and would miss it if it were gone.
D: It’s been stretched out so far across cinema. All Star is the ground zero of score conspiracies, every red string spirals together right here. That could be said for our charted journey too; there are so many obvious number one hits on this album, we are definitely going to revisit quite a few of these.
A: This is the first album we’ve listened to where I know several of the songs. Something I can’t believe I’m saying about the Digimon movie soundtrack.
D: They do exist inside the internet, mayhaps they’ve deliberately influenced our cultural osmosis this whole time.
A: Maybe so! In a way, this does feel like a compilation almost entirely of ‘oh, it’s that song’ songs, rather than songs you could sit down and listen to. The Rockafeller Skank; good song, but I couldn’t listen to it casually. God bless you, All Star, but there’s no way that I’m hearing “Some-BO-“ without pressing next.
D: Let us make a note of that statement there because there may be some ska kids who’ll disagree later on.
A: Great, I’m going to have teenagers skating at me wielding trombones as weapons. ‘Are those scars on his face?’, ‘No. They’re ska’s”. It makes just little enough sense to be in a horror movie.
D: That school restroom scene in Scream but when you’re peering under the cubicles two checkered vans step down. Put enough ska into any film and it becomes a horror.
The Rockafeller Skank Fat Boy Slim
A: A good song, and I have fond memories of this being a giant hit around 1999.
D: As were a number of his. Very memorable, very catchy, very applicable.
A: I was a big fan of Fat Boy as a kid; found his stuff very exciting and hip, but now? Just seems so… generic? Not bad, but it’s been done so much that it doesn’t feel exciting anymore. Hard to hear Rockafeller and find it fresh.
D: He got very big in the MTV days due to his music videos, those were perhaps the more memorable aspect, honestly.
A: That’s true, and this was a go-to song for fun comedy movies of the time.
D: It was used in the trailer for Osmosis Jones, one of the funnier kids films about Bill Murray slowly dying.
A: Kids love to see Ghostbusters get sick and die, that’s what Paul Feig failed to understand.
D: Oh, you haven’t seen Ghostbusters: Answer The Call, then? ‘Cause they do kill Bill, for a fact.
A: Oh, darn, I forgot about that, sorry, Fieg! Also this was in American Pie.
D: One of the many songs utilised in that film but decidedly not featured on the mediocre album.
A: All the songs on this soundtrack had, or could have easily, appeared in American Pie.
D: Hey Digimon would’ve complimented the visuals of Finch shitting all over the girls’ bathroom very well.
A: Jim was digi-destined to jizz twice in his pants. That’s what listening to Barenaked Ladies all day does to you! Makes you a weak-weinered horndog.
D: Not really restrained to just Pie, though; we see with some of these other songs, they really cast the net wide for popularity here. It’s nearly OST: The OST.
Kids In America LEN
A: With the LEN song, they’re continuing the Smash Mouth vibe, because seriously, aren’t Len just Smash Mouth? Forgive me for not capitalising LEN the second time.
D: I’ll let it slide, I didn’t even catch it was LEN first time, given it wasn’t Give Me Sunshine i.e. the only song people know them for.
A: Uh, mate. I think you’ll find it’s Steal My Sunshine, how dare you disrespect LEN like this.
D: Editors note: Totally going to fix that in the write up.
A: They are ROLLING IN THEIR GRAVES. Yeah, we get a cover of Kids In America and it’s not great. It is ill fitting, because Digimon is thoroughly not American.
D: The barefaced audacity to put this in to distinguish this dub release from the original.
A: The vocalist sounds terrified to sing any louder than a whisper, did they not want Kim Wilde to hear?
D: There’s actually a video comparing the two versions where the Japanese edition, as it happens, does not feature shoe-horned pop classics in every other scene. In fact, Smash Mouth is abruptly slapped on, what is originally directed as, a sombre moment conveying the events of their battles have permanently changed one of the lead Digimon.
A: Some serious pandering. Ill-judged pandering, too, because what 2000’s child would ever have responded to LEN covering a dusty ’80’s hit?
D: Rockafeller Skank is used for, at most, maybe thirty seconds, in a tiny scene of a cat playfully fighting with a baby Digimon. There’s also that strange note, that most of these songs are only featured for, at max, half the chorus.
A: Very much sounds like they were concerned, “hey, kids! Don’t tune out! Here’s some loud, rhythmic sounds!”
D: An 88 minute film where they cut out 40 minutes of original content during the condensed editing process. They didn’t even have the audacious and yet effective desperation for full song music montages.
A: Why pay for the songs, then barely use them? I guess they did, to sell CDs.
Hey Digimon Paul Gordon
A: Quite a sweet one, really. Sounds so kid-oriented that I can’t hate it.
D: If we were saying Digi Rap was story telling, this one is literally the pitch notes from the original series.
A: Man, does this sound like Barenaked Ladies. Uncannily like them.
D: Pretty much my only notes for this track, which is more of a genuine question. Is this not just BnL?
A: They wanted a friendly, sunny sound and… that’s what they are. There’s also a lot of rapping on this album, and it’s nearly all literal Digimon based. I want the 8 Mile where Eminem doesn’t write about his impoverished childhood, but all the favourite digital monsters he befriended during those years.
D: I was so ready for the pleasant singer to add, “Okay, I don’t make shows, but if I did they’d have a Digimon”.
A: “Watching Digimon, with no lights on, I hope the smokingmon’s in this one.”
D: Like Harrison Ford, I’m getting frantic. To get through the rest of this ska.
One Week Barenaked Ladies
A: A song so unrelated to Digimon that I’m still not comprehending it’s here on this list. It’s BEYUN building up to this, we knew this song would hit us eventually.
D: Weirdly… maybe one of the more connected songs. Featured in the scene where a boy and a girl haven’t talked since that fateful summer after a silly row and they both like each other.
A: So it is thematically linked, then? Does he have a chicka-di-China, da Chinese chicken? Does his brain, in fact, stop ticking?
D: I can only comment on what I’ve seen of the movie and series, I cannot confirm if the lead has a history of losing his shirt.
A: He seems like he’d laugh at funerals. Bill Murray’s funeral. I still have a fondness for One Week, and I haven’t heard it nearly enough that I hate it. It’s just so fun and good-hearted that, how can you hate it, really?
D: We would’ve listened to it with American Pie, too, but alas not enough room between Sugar Ray and I won’t even try to remember the others. We may have even mentioned it in our wrap up.
A: I have a feeling it’ll be one that pops up from time to time, like an ear-worm wack-a-mole.
D: Even though we will certainly come across the Ladies time and time again, can we just talk about the music video for this one? Since outside of YouTube AMVs, I don’t think Digimon got any official videos.
A: Oh, I haven’t seen it! …oh wait, I recognise it! My god, that saturation.
D: Seeing it with fresh eyes will probably raise some questions, my main point seeing it again, is how strange that they start with a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang homage, and then just drop it midway in favour of playing in those same over-lit suburbs of All Star and Black Hole Sun.
A: It’s really a huge mess, as if MTV went, “Barenaked who? Turn ’em over to the prop department, go nuts, we’re going need to put on a whole show to avoid how much a nerd this main guy looks.”
D: I can really imagine Steven Page having a digi-vice on his belt. Since we’re Talkin’ Tech, let’s discuss to the movie for a brief moment since it integrates the internet in this Y2J era.
A: Break down the (fire) walls!!
D: After the prologue, the first chapter plays with some very loose and early understandings of the world wide web. Primarily, the climax being the defeat of the villain via redirecting worldwide e-mails directly to him, which physically slows him down.
A: We were all such techno dumb dumb’s, that in 2000, we would’ve just shrugged it off. I didn’t even have the internet by that point, it was another year or so until I was jacked in, so seeing the cover of Wired back then was pretty a sign with, ‘Computers are a world you will never understand. You stupid baby boy.’
D: For a story written for expressly children, then, that barely have a concept on cutting edge technology, it’s also wildly tone deaf for certain plot points. “Diaboromon begins to duplicate himself at an exponential rate and infects computers at the Pentagon, launching two nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles: one headed for Colorado, the other for Tai and Izzy’s neighborhood in Odaiba, Tokyo.”
A: That is some heavy shit. I really thought kids’ entertainment would want to shift away from the looming threat of nuclear holocaust. It was Y2K, after all, and there was a weird mixture of ‘the future is exciting’ and ‘computers will kill humanity’.
D: Then equally wrapped up for growing minds with, “Omnimon destroys Diaboromon by stabbing him through the head just in time and the nukes are disabled just before detonation.”
A: Well, thank God for that! Otherwise there’d be post apocalyptic Digimon wandering The Road. It’s BEYUN one week since we all got nuked!
D: Moving swiftly on from radioactive annihilation, let’s delve into another apocalyptic threat of the millennium: ska-swing.
The Impression That I Get The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones
A: Like the world’s computers crashing and ending us all; this band feels dated, silly, but ultimately still quite frightening. There has to be shorthand for their name, no? What do fans call them, The Mighties? The Bosstones? TMMBT?
D: I’ve always referred to them as The Less Mighty Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.
A: Perfect! They brassed off in I Know What You Did Last Summer, which I caught recently. Man, they are distinctive; it’s the guttural voice of the vocalist, that guttural voice of a generation.
D: I believe this is the feelgood track that plays immediately after the baddie gets his noggin cleaved in twine as the nukes fall harmlessly into the Tokyo bay. The music editors love their literal takes as it does open with, “have you ever been close to tragedy?”
A: That opening riff is so memorable, I didn’t know if I knew the song until the moment I pressed play. His throaty voice does carry the sadness that’s levied by the peppy saxes.
D: Let us not understate the 11.3 million views on YouTube for their music video, evidently a lot of people have been close to tragedy. There are plenty of Bossheads out there looking for their next hit.
A: Some say they’re still caught in that white void, throwing their hats aimlessly, aiming for that one scene in Clueless over and over again. There really are no equivalents in the mainstream to this anymore, whether good or bad is not for me to say.
D: Those are dangerous flood gates to consider opening again. Can we really handle another Bosstones?
A: It’s not necessarily them that are awful, it’s what they made popular. What came after them is truly terrible, not that they’re great, either. Much like the punk we’ve covered, we must be sparing with the Third Eye Blinds otherwise we only invite a dozen Sugar Rays back into our current delicate climate.
D: Absolutely true, the only place that conservative values should apply is in ska punk. We cannot afford to be liberal and let all the ska punk bands get popular, they are very much musical hydras, we decapitate a Bosstone, and we get Less Than Jake up next.
All My Best Friends Are Metalheads Less Than Jake
A: Less Than Jake were one of the biggest ska punk groups of their time. So much so, that I owned two, count ’em two, of their albums. I discovered them through Tony Hawk games like a coolster, though.
D: Is there anyone that didn’t?
A: They pretty much existed inside a skating game, kick-flipping their way out once in a while over to the Digimon world. I suppose I know the answer to this question, but are there metalheads in this film?
D: This is a dub of a Japanese series, and they do still acknowledge it’s set in Japan, those folk may be fateful enough to not actually know what ska is. That wasn’t the question, though, and I know Japan does indeed have some great metal bands.
A: That’s true! Maybe this song fits better than it’d seem. Those poor kids, though, having no idea of what ska is. What would you skank to?
D: Thank you for bringing that back to my attention. I had forgotten what they called that barefoot walking on Lego strut.
A: The kids today will never know what it was like to grow up among living skankers. They won’t know the confusion, the passion, and the fear. They say dab, I say skank, they want auto-tune, I yearn for loud trombones.
Run Around Jason Radford
A: This is quintessentially children focused. I love that the lyrics are as straight forward as, “you run around, I run around!” Too few songs about running about! I have no clue who Radford is, and Google hasn’t been helpful, but the dude does love to have a good run around. I picture it in circles, in his living room.
D: The most obtuse ’90’s WHOA WHOA WHOAAAAS in a song yet. He’s featured on quite a few of the Digimon songs, so I imagine you can book him for birthday parties.
A: That would’ve worked for me, eight year old me would’ve loved this, and still been embarrassed by the fact that it was from Digimon.
D: But mom! I wanted the band from POKEMON!!”
A: “You think I make that kind of money? Get your head in the real world, son.” Run Around is the beginning of the end, though, the last quarter of the album descends into generic grey mulch. The trifecta of Jake, Bosstones, and Ladies should’ve been used more liberally.
D: I really wish this was nearing the end, because I do not even know if we can tie together a fitting conclusion for this. Both the album and us are tapering off tired and disappointed here.
A: It trails off so hard. For Run Around, it’s a perfectly cute song, fair enough. I have no adjectives to describe Nowhere Near. It’s a song. Made by musicians. It has a guitar.
Nowhere Near Summercamp
D: Shockingly, the American Pie soundtrack had hit this low point in musical monotony far earlier in it’s track listing, and yet we had more to say. We have no idea who these last few jabronis are; Summercamp? They debuted as Old Man. Christ.
A: Damn, they really are just… nothing. One of those intensely boring bands of the time that made people realise that, hey, maybe this alt-rock revolution is over? And by that, they revolutionised absolutely nothing.
D: They had a song in BASEketball, and they played in Buffy once. That about sums them up.
A: All these bands have to their name is, perhaps, three appearances in media, more if they’re lucky enough for Tony Hawk to hear them, and that is it. They get one album reviewed by Rolling Stone at two stars, then they disband.
D: But then we research them for these discussions and find they’re somehow still doing gigs, more haggard than a wrestling legend. Then there’s the thought, we’re recounting them all individually, I don’t know what’s sadder and more niche.
A: We’re giving them their moment in the sun! If criticising their very existence can be called the sun. At the very most, they have nice YouTube comments; people getting nostalgic for their own childhoods. They made a few folks happy, but not me.
D: If we have nothing but harrowing inward reflection by this point, do you have anything else to possibly add to the next track?
A: Well, no.
D: The worst criticism a band has had thus far.
A: It’s not quite rapping because there’s not rhythm or talent, it’s just talking fast in the same exact tempo. There is so little to say about Showoff, maybe they should just sod off, eh?
D: Got ’em! Barely saving us at the end, then, with a faster, more upbeat tone, Here We Go is not that bad.
Here We Go Jason Gochin
A: True, it has the added bonus of being a song aimed solely at the kids. From the sound of it, I might be wrong, but it sounds like it was written expressly for the film, which makes it somehow less reproachable.
D: Same composers as a few of the other ones, so I believe it’s for the film. In that regard, I’d say they do a better job than the last couple of actual bands on the album.
A: They have some energy, for sure, and they seem to at least have enthusiasm, whereas Summercamp are just… zombies. It’s a little energy to end us mercifully with, the little burst that says, “you still with us?”
D: That we are, though as usual, it feels like we’re hitting a pattern of nearly falling asleep by the ends of these album reviews. We may have to address this in a sort of meta epilogue.
A: It’s because the albums are so front loaded; they really smash you around the head with their pandering hits. In their desperation not to lose you, though, it’s so near sighted because once those are dried up, only the cheap, forgettable songs are left.
D: We have to be very careful in our future of doing this. With Batman, we were very emotional by the end, for better or worse, but that gave us a lot to say. The last two articles have proven ska is definitely killing us. Our ska cherries have been popped and we are tired old daddies already.
A: Ska has made us into the very monsters we ventured to criticise. It might be necessary to tackle soundtracks with Batman’s weird ass diversity. We once were mighty, mighty, now just sleepy, sleepy.
D: Let’s prise open the curtain then a little for our journey between the articles. An oath to the integrity of our journalism; I recommend we listen to at least a couple of albums beforehand and have the fortunate foresight to decide on which is worthy.
A: It’s important to be honest with our journalism, we can’t have this going all Shattered Glass on us. Overall, there were moments I enjoyed with this soundtrack, particularly the first half, but Batman Returns is still the one to beat. If you liked the American Pie soundtrack, chances are you’ll like the Digimon soundtrack.
D: You mean Forever!
A: SORRY, SORRY, BATMAN.
D: Now I’m the one who gets to put you on blast.
A: The ska rotted my brain! Imagine the long term damage all the MTV we watched in the early 2000’s did to us. This is the very consequences of it right here! We’ve been conditioned to revisit all that nostalgia only to hurt ourselves.
D: That’s what this project is; investigating the music that our memory is built on to find out whether it’s worthy or not. To discover, if the pang of yearning in the night that calls out for Sugar Ray, is really, truly justified. We have to pick a good album next time or that pang is going to fade for good.
A: Our lives might just depend on it. As M.C. Pea Pod would say, “lets wrap it up, wrap it up now”. To quoth the Ladies, whom so often are barenaked, let’s let our, “brains stop ticking”.
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