Soundtrack Review: THE HANGOVER PART II
Once again, THE HANGOVER PART II takes us on a crazy ride, this time through the rundown streets of Bangkok rather than flashy lights of Las Vegas. Throughout the series, the music has played an important role by pumping up the adrenaline as the characters' situation begins to unravel. The song selections were clearly not an afterthought when crafting the world of the Wolf Pack, as just the use of a well-known Phil Collins song was turned on its ear and probably never heard the same way again after THE HANGOVER treatment. Unfortunately, the sequel follows the blue print of the first, not just in story and plot points, but with the music choices as well, taking ideas that were fresh and simply plugging in new artists.
The soundtrack kicks things off as it had the first time around (a trope we will see again (and again) throughout the film) with a track from Danzig, this time with “Black Hell” (“Thirteen” was used in THE HANGOVER). Once again, the down-trodden track, thick with foreboding percussion and guitar riffs, lets us know (again) it is all downhill from here. The juxtaposition of the almost-discouraging sounding Danzig against the Las Vegas background was just off enough to be funny and marked the specific brand of humor that drove THE HANGOVER. The use is less effective here as it is almost expected and is (sadly) the first sign that the déjà vu feeling pulling at the back of one’s mind throughout THE HANGOVER PART II is not unwarranted.
This time the role of 1980s soft rock is filled by Billy Joel’s “The Downeaster ‘Alexa’” rather than Phil Collin’s “In The Air Tonight” while Mark Lanegan gives us the slowed down, dusty traveler with “The Beast In Me” in place of The Cramps’ “Fever.” The profanity-laced Dan Band do not make a second appearance at Stu’s wedding (their sudden appearance in Thailand would have been a bit too much). In their place is Thai cover band Ska Rangers who (as their name suggests) perform ska-styled versions of The Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran” and Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are.” Mike Tyson however is back again, this time singing the appropriately titled “One Night In Bangkok.”
We get another tune from Ed Helms’ Stu, but this time he alters the lyrics of Billy Joel’s “Allentown” to describe the group’s situation at that point in the film instead of spouting off an original ditty (a highlight from THE HANGOVER). However this time I found Stu’s doctored version of the song to be less humorous. “Stu’s Song” was sung out of fear, frustration, and slight mania. It was one of the first points in the film we saw Stu really begin to crack with his final lyric, “But if he’s [Doug] been murdered by crystal meth tweekers…then we’re shit out of luck.” With “Allentown,” Stu is simply being cruel and his frustration is not funny, it is mean and it is this mean streak that runs throughout THE HANGOVER PART II and is reflected here in the music as well.
Unlike THE HANGOVER, PART II’s soundtrack is peppered with sound bites from the film to try and help translate the manic feeling of the group’s rapidly declining situation as they attempt (yet again) to piece together the events from the previous night. However, more often than not, this tendency on soundtracks ends up feeling like a cheat, almost implying the music cannot stand on its own and must rely on direct references back to the film to drive home its point. The clips pulled are not even some of the funnier bits from the film making it all the more clear that their inclusion here is simply to remind listeners what was happening at that point in the story when the song was used.
This second outing follows the same beats as the first and the music cues are not much different. We get a snarky song from Stu (Ed Helms), some vocal stylings from Mike Tyson, and a collection of artists that help shape the crazed feel of the overall journey. The soundtrack succeeds in its goal of creating the unhinged world of the Wolf Pack, but does so by following the same ideas of the first film. THE HANGOVER PART II does not do much to further these characters or their story and, unfortunately, the music follows suit.
This soundtrack is available through WaterTower Music.
1. “Black Hell” – Danzig
2. “You Can’t Just Skip Out Of The Bachelor Party [Explicit]” – Bradley Cooper
3. “Stronger [Explicit]” – Kanye West
4. “Stu’s First Marriage” – Bradley Cooper
5. “The Downeaster ‘Alexa’” – Billy Joel
6. “Holla, City Of Squaller [Explicit]” – Bradley Cooper
7. “The Beast In Me” – Mark Lanegan
8. “What The F*** Is Going On?! [Explicit]” – Ed Helms
9. “Sofi Needs A Ladder” – Deadmau5
10. “Allentown [Explicit]” – Ed Helms
11. “Pusher Man” – Curtis Mayfield
12. “Seriously, What Is Wrong With You Three?” – Sasha Barrese
13. “Love Train” – Wolfmother
14. “Farting Medication” – Bradley Cooper
15. “I Ran” – Ska Rangers
16. “When A Monkey Nibbles [Explicit]” – Zach Galifianakis
17. “One Night In Bangkok” – Mike Tyson
18. “Hold On Gay Boys” – Ken Jeong
19. “Just The Way Your Are” – Ska Rangers
20. “Bad Man’s World” – Jenny Lewis