Now that’s what I call a soundtrack.
Like Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson is an auteur known for his deft ability to pair music with his stories, specifically pop music of a bygone era: The Faces’ “Ooh La La” in Rushmore, Nico’s cover of “These Days” in The Royal Tenenbaums, The Beach Boy’s “Heroes and Villains” interrupting the score of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Bowie covers in The Life Aquatic.
Anderson uses music not to set a time, but a mood, and it is the specific blending of asynchronous events and emotional cues that makes those moods so timeless and universal. The music is an extension of character, it is a communicable atmosphere, to the point that if you change it, you change the entire film.
To prove this point, take a look at this hilarious and strangely poignant video from essay parodist (and NoBudge.com maestro) Kentucker Audley that re-sets Rushmore to music from the era in which it occurred, the mid-90s. It was a time of pop-grunge, pop-punk, three-chord anthems, and blue-eyed ballads, a culture led by the Carson Dalys of the world, a blissfully ignorant utopia of possibilities. And when applied to Anderson’s film, it makes a charming if awkward coming of age film into, well…something else. Carve out five-and-a-half minutes to give this your full attention.