Here’s What Makes Licorice Pizza’s Soundtrack One of 2021’s Best


Set in the San Fernando Valley in 1973, Paul Thomas Anderson’s last film Licorice Pizza features musician and HAIM band member Alana Haim and the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cooper Hoffman. It also features Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper and Benny Safdie in an excellent supporting cast. This seething watch is a perfect escape from reality, but it’s the soundtrack that really seals the deal, able to transport people to 1970s California, immersing them in the dreamlike social backdrop of gorgeous cars and golden orange hues.

Republic records Licorice Pizza The soundtrack includes songs from David Bowie, Nina Simone, Paul McCartney and Wings, Donovan, Sonny & Cher, Gordon Lightfoot and more. It also features the new title track “Licorice Pizza” created by regular Paul Thomas Anderson collaborator Jonny Greenwood, the Radiohead member who has become an excellent film composer over the years. The film, Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film since ghost yarn, began showing in cinemas from Christmas Day and has been the talk of the awards season ever since.


Related: Licorice Pizza Review: Paul Thomas Anderson Delivers A Mesmerizing ’70s Romance

Set in the Los Angeles sprawl where Anderson himself grew up, the film centers on Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), a teenage actor and entrepreneur, and Alana Kane (Alana Haim), a 25-year-old photography assistant that Gary meeting while waiting to have his school photo taken. Under unlikely circumstances, the two team up on a series of business ideas starting with a waterbed business, while auditioning for movies as Alana gets involved in a mayoral campaign. Amid political shifts, shifting popular culture, raging hormones and a gas crisis, these two unlikely companions have won over audiences in their complicated attempts to win each other over, a little like a musical dance on an excellent soundtrack (which is crucial for the film. Success). Here are five reasons why the soundtrack of Licorice Pizza is the best released of 2021.

Haim and Hoffman run
MGM / United Artists

Eclectic mix of moods

From Nina Simone’s melancholic ‘July Tree’, written by Eve Merriam and Irma Jurist and first recorded and released by Simone in 1965, to Bing Crosby, Clarence Carter and Chuck Berry, it’s fair to say there’s a song for everyone and every mood in this soundtrack. The eclectic mix of tracks creates an old-school ride through soulful woodwinds and bittersweet piano riffs over tender, punchy vocals and the poppy sounds of the 60s and 70s that all help to illuminate the story. Tracks such as Johnny Guarnieri’s “Sometimes I’m Happy” set the scene perfectly with his warm and light contemplative piece that soothes the ears with shimmering ivory melodies and layered instruments to complement the characters and the way they sing. intertwine. Every emotion in the film seems to have its corresponding sound.

The title song adds to the meaning of the film

Radiohead lead guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Greenwood created the instrumental title track for the film. Greenwood is a frequent collaborator of Paul Thomas Anderson, having composed several of his films, such as There will be blood, inherent vice, and The master. Greenwood has had a busy 2021, most recently creating the score for Pablo Larraín’s film spencer, a creative depiction of the late Princess Diana on a Christmas weekend in the days leading up to the end of her marriage to Prince Charles. He also worked on Jane Campion’s The power of the dog, creating its atmospheric and tense music, which The New Yorker called “the best film score of the year”. The title track has an eerie anticipation about it, captured in the constant drum beat throughout the syncopated appearance of various instruments, creating an anxious and energetic vibe that goes back and forth between the rest of the soundtrack.

Greenwood’s title track is perfect for a movie literally titled after an old record store. On the title of the film Licorice Pizza, Anderson told Variety:

After several months of banging my head against the wall trying to find a name for this film, I concluded that these two words together reminded me the most of my childhood. Growing up, there was a chain of record stores in Southern California called Licorice Pizza. It seemed like a catch-all for the sentiment of the movie. I guess if you don’t have any reference to the store, those are two big words that go well together and maybe capture a vibe.

We fall twice as much in love with the characters

Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” perfectly captures love’s relentless hope as audiences wait for romance to unfold from charming and energetic protagonist Gary, in his classic “teenage” way of crushing an older woman. he strives to win.

Related: Paul Thomas Anderson Movies To Watch Before Licorice Pizza

Then there’s Alana, the feisty, feisty, and often drastically immature female lead whose playful, unpredictable charm is captured by the melancholy likes of Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro’s “Stumblin’ In” and soulful guitar riffs and spirited throughout the film. The contrasts within the soundtrack echo the story of the entrepreneurial and complicated spirit of the film’s two protagonists. “Foolishly laying our hearts on the table, tripping,” Norman and Quatro’s number continues, perfectly depicting the vulnerabilities of love depicted in the film.

Haim and Hoffman look at the camera
MGM / United Artists

teenage nostalgia

The trials and tribulations of teenage romance are captured in the diverse selection of tracks that remind viewers what it’s like to feel young. The presence of Sonny & Cher on the soundtrack seems to echo our protagonists Gary and Alana’s relationship in their unlikely and bumpy romance. The music mimics their hypnotic game of cat and mouse as they see who can pretend to care the least. “This story just emerged,” Anderson told Variety. “I like the way it plays out. You meet these two people. You make them fall in love and see their relationship blossom, and there are various episodes that challenge them in different ways. I don’t have it too much designed. I just got lucky. Paul Thomas Anderson Highlights american graffiti and Fast times at Ridgemont High as two big influences for the film, and its music pays fitting homage to their nostalgia for teenage Americana and other inspirations for Licorice Pizza.

It sets the stage perfectly for the era-appropriate ride.

Naturally, appearances by David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Wings, The Doors and others reflect the 1970s era of film. The soundtrack itself becomes something of a love letter to the San Fernando Valley of the 1970s, complete with the era’s quintessential shaggy hairstyles, waterbeds and short shorts worn by men. Combined with Anderson’s warm, nostalgic lens through which he portrays ’70s California, the timely sounds of “Let Me Roll It” and “Diamond Girl” will haunt viewers for days after watching the film.

Whether you’ve watched the movie and still find yourself dreaming about it, or haven’t yet experienced the joys of Gary and Alana and their young love, this soundtrack will only add to Magic. It remains just as good outside of the film, but is an essential part of the viewing experience and elevates the mood of the film more than any other 2021 release.

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