One of the fundamental factors that helped Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting catapult to infamy upon its release was its amazing soundtrack. It perfectly chimed with the zeitgeist of British pop culture, trading on beloved bands such as Blur and Pulp who remain archetypal figures of a quintessential ’90s experience that spoke to an entire generation.
That sound you can hear in the middle distance is T2 Trainspotting – a belated sequel that has once again been directed by Boyle. The film set to launch in Europe at the Berlin Film Festival following its UK release on 27 January, and it marks almost 20 years since the original cult phenomenon hit cinemas. This new story, based on Irvine Welsh’s 2002 novel ‘Porno’, is set 20 years after events concluded in the original film (rather than the ten year gap in the books).
The premise sees the return of Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) to his hometown in Edinburgh, who reunites with Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and ‘old flame’ Diane (Kelly Macdonald). Renton also faces the challenge of reconnecting with violent maniac Begbie (Robert Carlyle) after stitching him up at the end of the first film, all the while attempting to dodge the impending threat of history repeating itself.
The listing of the T2 soundtrack has been announced and we can report that it adheres to the nationalistic loyalty of the original in choosing a quota British artists. Yet, this time around, it does seem like a jumbled array of songs that are dressed to impress, the quintessence of a depleted rebel attempting to assimilate with the voice of today’s youth and ultimately coming up disconnected. But hey, that may just be the whole point…
Featuring 15 tracks that provide a substantial glimpse into the tone of the film, and frantic assumptions and speculations have already been made about the significance of the song choices. One thing that is clear, deducing from the trailer, is the mix of the old and the new. Things kick off with the infamous ‘Born Slippy’ by Underworld – Trainspotting’s trademark track – which then segues in to London-based rock band Wolf Alice’s ‘Silk’. Director Danny Boyle is already appealing to our familiarity with the original and then applying that nostalgia into contemporary culture.
This strategy is nowhere more obvious than in the very first track listed, the remixing of Iggy Pop’s foot-stomping classic ‘Lust For Life’ by The Prodigy. The original was our introduction to the world of Trainspotting, and the decision to remix it appears as a ham-fisted way to suggest that this film is merely a re-vamped, remixed version of the original. And that’s before mentioning that the final Underworld is called ‘Slow Slippy’, again trading off of the original film’s spectacular credo.
As for the remaining tracks, Boyle trolls through an eclectic mix from classic ’70s rock names like Queen and The Clash, ’00s rap artists, Run DMC, to contemporary alternative bands such as Edinburgh-based pop group, Young Fathers, and Peckham rock band, Fat White Family. It’s hard not to compare these music selections to the middle-aged men that the T2 characters have become: they are in a perpetual state of reminiscence while the culture and society which they used to know changes around – and without – them.
Lust For Life (The Prodigy Remix) – Iggy Pop
Shotgun Mouthwash – High Contrast
Silk – Wolf Alice
Get Up – Young Fathers
Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Eventually But (Spud’s Letter to Gail) – Underworld
Only God Knows – Young Fathers
Dad’s Best Friend – The Rubberbandits
Dreaming – Blondie
Radio Ga Ga – Queen
It’s Like That – Run DMC vs Jason Nevins
(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais – The Clash
Rain or Shine – Young Fathers
Whitest Boy On the Beach – Fat White Family
Slow Slippy – Underworld
T2 Trainspotting is released in the UK on 27 January
Published 12 Jan 2017
Songs from Damien Chazelle’s spellbinding musical are now available to stream online.
The acclaimed American composer revisits some of his most iconic original scores for the Hail, Caesar! directors.
By Lara C Cory
The Trent Reznor-produced score is being reissued for the fist time in 20 years.