Paper Towns: The Music of John Green Strikes Again

scene from Paper Towns

Image courtesy of 21st Century Fox/Temple Hill Entertainment

Paper Towns:
The Music of John Green Strikes Again

| published September 8, 2015 |

By Garrett Heisler Thursday Review contributor

Paper Towns, a film based on the best-selling novel by John Green, is a truly gripping experience. The story is an extremely fresh take on the modern love story cliché that has become common among summer blockbusters. I cannot praise the film enough; I can only express that it has changed my outlook on this genre completely. Among the film’s strongpoints: the musical score and its masterful blending into the narrative. Paper Towns features a list of clever and fresh indie tracks that will have the listener even more involved in the story. I found myself not only humming to the tracks but also immediately hunting them down on iTunes. Thus this music review!

The tracks of this film are truly some of the best I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, and the fresh sounds of some of the new music adds a warmth and emotion to key scenes, as well as injecting a sense of adventure. In short, the soundtrack adds a genuine sense of heart to this movie.

The soundtrack begins with a loud and ridged pop sound entitled “Radio.” This was not only a blast to listen to, but is also one of the films promotional tracks. The track features a catchy melody, and a completely unexpected chorus. If you are the kind of listener who loves upbeat tracks, this one will be for you. Tracks two and six are tracks that were made for the film, so they may not appeal to some listeners expecting more indie music. Indeed, though inoffensive, I know they did not resonate with me. Tracks made specifically to compliment the score can sometimes help and sometimes hurt, these tracks are not bad—they just do not fit as well as other tunes. This soundtrack is strictly new age indie, and these tracks are a little too farfetched for my taste.

Now with the loud and the misfit tracks out of the way, we can begin to look at the other offerings. Sounds like the Kindness tune “Swinging Party” and Vance Joy’s “Great Summer” are in a way sister songs. “Swinging Party” conveys a spirit of wanting to get into some trouble with a loved one—a somber melody juxtaposed by happy lyrics that have no negativity to share. The beat is one aspect that will stick in your head and keeps you in a youthful mood. The mirror song to this is “Great Summer,” a track about wondering how that person you let get away is doing in life. A piano and snare drum lead you down a catchy exit off memory lane. This track by Vance Joy is truly one that expresses the feel to the book and is by far one of the most interesting tracks I have ever listened to. A true complement to the indie style and charismatic sounds of the album.

This album has one track that is a new twist on a controversial genre. That track is “Runaway (U & I)” by the Swedish duo Galantis, and it breathes new life into the electronica scene. Now, I know what you are thinking: that it isn’t going to be anything but laser sounds and record spins, but I assure you that assumption is wrong. This track has some of the most compelling and enjoyable lyrics of this year. This track captures a feeling and goes with it—the feeling of the freedom to leave, and the idea of nowhere to go. The track is a shot of adrenaline in the middle of a slow album. It does this in a way that is very welcomed and appreciated because the composer took his time. The song has the ability to build a bridge to the last half of this album. Give this track a listen, not just as an act of defiance, but also because it is catchy and fun. It may also turn you on to a new genre of music.

As the album enters the final act the band De Lux enters with “Moments,” which is the films main theme. This track is so highly addicting that I literally walk to class every morning with it on repeat. This track is one that reaches out and grabs you and does not let go. I find myself listening to it over and over. The song features sounds and instruments that I cannot explain (nor am I entirely sure what they are). I know there’s a bass guitar in there somewhere and possibly some keyboard, but at the end of the track all those sounds come together perfectly. In fact, this is my favorite track. I cannot express how much this track reflects the entire story and encapsulates the emotion wrapped up in this film. If you only buy one song on this album, make sure it is this one.

In conclusion, this is a must-own soundtrack for anyone who wishes to expand their collection in ways most people do not know about, indie. These songs also resemble the tone and texture of summer, and complement the movie in ways you must experience yourself. If, like me, you prefer to hear before you buy, I would highly recommend going to this film to experience the songs in their natural habitat. It’s a set list that compliments an amazing story, and one that begs to be told.

As for the movie, Paper Towns is one of the best films I have ever seen and I highly recommend seeing it on the large screen (don’t wait for Netflix or HBO or Redbox). Once you see it you may find yourself buying the soundtrack and the book, which is what happened to me. Truly compelling and heartfelt, anyone can enjoy this masterpiece by John Green.

And as always, for the best in reviews keep it locked on Thursday Review.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Wes Craven, Rest in Peace, or Horror ; Lori Garrett; Thursday Review; August 31, 2015.

The Fault in Our Stars; John Green ; Kristy Webster; Thursday Review; August 25, 2013.