Opening on Valentine’s Day here in the UK, Judd Apatow’s This Is 40 is the sort-of sequel to the blockbuster comedy success, Knocked Up. The original film featured a stellar and impressively diverse soundtrack, including the likes of Bright Eyes, The All-American Rejects, The Clash, and Britney Spears.
And with Apatow at the helm once more, it’s no surprise that the sort-of sequel brings with it another brilliant selection of music for the OST.
Apatow has reteamed with music supervisor/editor Jonathan Karp for This Is 40, who worked on the original film (and many other of his projects), and the sixteen-song soundtrack is expectedly fantastic. A selection of classic, remastered tracks that sit alongside nicely with younger artists.
Yoko Ono kicks the proceedings off with Yes, I’m Your Angel. I admit I’m not particularly familiar with Ono’s music (and know her more for her Beatles-related reputation than for her songs), but the lyrics here are more than enough to make you smile. And thinking of them in relation to This Is 40, it’s a heart-warming start to the soundtrack.
Then we move into the brilliant stylings of Norah Jones and her track, Always Judging. Jones is pretty much the definition of catchy music, and you can’t help but love it and sing along.
We soon come to the first of two live recordings from Ryan Adams, by way of Graham Parker & The Punch Brothers, Lindsey Buckingham, and Paul Simon. Adams’ Shining Through the Dark continues the catchy-as-hell feel that the entire soundtrack is just bursting with. Prior to listening to the soundtrack, I hadn’t heard many of these songs, and am so glad to have discovered them now.
Paul McCartney’s remastered Lunch Box / Odd Sox is next on the list, which has a piano line to really be jealous of for any songwriters/musicians out there. (I didn’t even know that McCartney wrote instrumental music, which is just another example of how this soundtrack has opened up my eyes.)
Then we come back to Lindsey Buckingham, singing Brother & Sister (featuring Norah Jones), which is one of my personal favourite tracks on the record. Buckingham has a wonderful voice, and a real talent for crafting amazing harmonies, and it’s great to hear Jones singing alongside him here.
Composer Jon Brion then makes an appearance on the album, with Theme 1 (Debbie and Oliver), followed by contributions from The Rumour, Loudon Wainwright III, Lindsey Buckingham once more, and Fiona Apple, all of them brilliant songs.
And finally we come to my three favourite songs of the album, which make for a perfect way to close the soundtrack out. Ryan Adams returns for his second live performance, Lucky Now. Adams is really exemplary of this soundtrack’s use of music that is both catchy and emotive, with great music and great lyrics.
Next up is Wilco’s I Got You (At the End of the Century). Like Buckingham, they’ve got a great voice and a knack for catchy harmonies.
And finally, saving the best for last, comes The Avett Brothers’ Live and Die. What a song. The catchiest chorus on the whole soundtrack, the best harmonies, and quite possibly the most meaningful lyrics. It doesn’t get better than this. If I had to recommend just one song of the sixteen here, it would be this one.
Where the Knocked Up soundtrack opted to focus on some of the biggest artists of the moment, This Is 40 has appropriately taken things back to some of the biggest names in music in recent decades. Lindsey Buckingham, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon. All great names, and all work so well alongside more recent acts like The Avett Brothers and Norah Jones. This is a soundtrack worth your time.
This Is 40 is now playing in cinemas in the UK.
The soundtrack for This Is 40 is currently available to buy (both physical and digital download) through EMI.