A lot of people make music a big part of their life, especially when you’re the age of the “Empire Records” gang. In fact, music defines many people’s lives, both socially and spiritually. As pizza boy and vinyl guru Eddie says, “This music holds the world together. It holds everything together. Without it, life would be meaningless.”
On that same note, the music is also the glue that holds “Empire Records” together. It may be because the events of the film take place almost entirely in a record store and all of its characters are deeply connected to the music, but its perfect soundtrack is really one of the main reasons for the lasting appeal of this film.
Featuring Gin Blossoms, Jimi Hendrix, Better Than Ezra, Suicidal Tendencies, AC/DC and more, the “Empire Records” soundtrack is filled with incredible non-traditional jams. Years before filmmaker James Gunn became known for weaving songs into the DNA of his scripts and characters, this film’s alternate staples were just as important in telling the stories as the words on the page. The two come together in a perfect marriage during the climax when Renée Zellweger’s Gina steps out of her comfort zone and joins Berko’s band on the marquee to sing “Sugar High.” Without the music, the scenes of “Empire Records” would simply be fundamentally different.
I often find myself shooting the vinyl version of this soundtrack while I work. (Yes, of course, I listen to it now.) But when people say I should just stream it because it doesn’t make a difference, I say difference makes a difference.