A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about Smoking Popes (read more) and mentioned how important the Clueless soundtrack was in the life of several bands, and I said I would write about that record soon. This is that column.
Released in the Summer of 1995 and linked to one of the greatest teen movies of all time, the soundtrack to the Emma-cum–Valley Girl classic is such a heavy hitter that no less than a half-dozen bands owe at least a modicum of their success to it, and two or three owe their entire careers to it. The aforementioned Smoking Popes got a great rub, and I have to assume it’s one of the only times corporate synergy (the band had just signed to Capitol, who also put out the soundtrack) has actually been helpful.
Clueless gave the Popes their first real U.K. exposure as well, but it also introduced a British band to American audiences. The Summer of ’95 represents the first time Yankees laid their ears on Supergrass, whose debut single, a goofy and effervescent Britpop extravaganza called “Alright,” was on the soundtrack. Supergrass were massive in England, and despite some buzz for “Pumping on Your Stereo” a couple of years ago, they essentially peaked in the United States with the “Alright” video (one of the finest of the Britpop era).
Of course, the band who received the most direct exposure from Clueless were the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who actually appeared in the film. “Where’d You Go?” was a minor modern rock radio hit in ’95, though they didn’t really break out until the late-’90s ska explosion and “The Impression That I Get” in 1997. But when that video caught on, it gave everyone the perfect reference point, as in, “Hey, isn’t that the band with the gravelly voiced singer from Clueless?”
Naturally, not everybody from the Clueless soundtrack took the world by storm. Remember Luscious Jackson? Believe it or not, there was a time when they were going to be the future of music. You certainly couldn’t argue with their pedigree: They were signed to the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label, they were four good looking women, and they played super-cool electro-rock that seemed to be a perfect next-gen post-grunge salve. The world was not impressed.
But Clueless might have ultimately been most beneficial for Radiohead, whose “Fake Plastic Trees” was on the soundtrack. Everyone had heard “Creep,” but “Fake Plastic Trees” made people reconsider them as more than just another British creep-rocking grunge retread. “Fake Plastic Trees” raised the exposure of The Bends, and the rest is computerized history.
Now Watch This: The goofy-awesome clip for Supergrass’ “Alright”!
Talk: Is Clueless the best film soundtrack ever, or is there something else more seminal? COMMENT