Once Joel Schumacher took over the Batman franchise, it became instantly apparent that Warner Bros. were looking to attract a wider, younger audience. Part of that was achieved through making the films themselves more light-hearted and more cartoonish (and more ASS) but also through releasing teen-friendly soundtracks.
So here we go…
The Batman Forever soundtrack starts off with U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”, a song I actually quite like. Used to like it even more as a kid but over the years it has kind of dissolved into a near non-event. If an enjoyable one. It’s not bad at all, especially for a U2 song. It goes for a dark, moody tone but unfortunately only half-achieves it because, lets be honest here, how dark and moody can U2 realistically get?
There are songs I genuinely like in this album. For one, Michael Hutchence’s take on the classic Iggy Pop tune “The Passenger” is really unique. I mean, the original is hard to beat and I still vastly prefer it to this version but I like how gloomy, epic and dramatic it gets. The final song of the album, “Bad Days” by The Flaming Lips, is also pretty good. I always liked how it was worked into the movie during Edward Nygma’s proper introduction in that scene where we follow him home and he starts working on his first crazy-ass riddle. That aside, it’s a good song with a cool, laid-back melody and a fun rhythm keeping it entertaining throughout.
Oh and The Offspring’s “Smash It Up”…
Almost ashamed to admit it but it’s great. Short, sweet, very Offspring yet somehow very Ramones as well, it’s a really fun tune. The song is played briefly in the film when Robin steals the Batmobile and goes cruisin’ along the streets of Gotham. I wonder if Batman had that Offspring CD in the car before Robin got in. I would have pegged The Bat as more of an Ozzy fan but whatever.
Then there’s songs I don’t mind. I don’t go NUTS over them but I don’t mind listening to them. Nick Cave’s “There Is A Light” is pretty decent so if you like Nick Cave, as I do, then it’s a no-brainer: you’ll enjoy it. It’s by no means super-memorable but it does the job. Sunny Day Real Estate’s “8” is also good despite it taking a while to get going. When it does you get some fine 90’s grunge but obviously that’s not for everyone. PJ Harvey’s “One Time Too Many” has a bit of a bite, which is definitely welcome and what it lacks in melody it makes up for in energy.
Songs I didn’t use to bother with but which actually grew on me over time include Eddi Reader’s “Nobody Lives Without Love”, a corny tune for sure but actually not bad. Method Man’s “The Riddler” I now enjoy mostly for the lols, some of those lyrics are ridiculously enjoyable and the whole song has a playfulness to it which makes it a good little guilty pleasure.
The rest I’m not a big fan of.
Massive Attack’s “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” I get is meant to be smooth and sexy but it just puts me straight to sleep. I swear I have fallen asleep more than once to this song only to be woken up later by "Smash It Up". Mazzy Star’s stuff I don’t usually mind but somehow I always end up skipping past “Tell Me Now”, again it just puts me to sleep. The Devlins’ “Crossing The River” isn’t really a bad song but it basically sounds like U2 on holiday, fine but somewhat irrelevant. I should mention also that I’m no big Seal fan so I won’t pan “Kiss From A Rose” because frankly it’s a good song, it’s catchy and has a nice dream-like vibe to it, it’s just not for me. Oh and Brandy has a song in there also, “Where Are You Now?”, which is SO not the type of music I listen to I don’t think I’ve ever heard the song all the way through to the end. If you like R&B though, it’s ok I guess, I’ve definitely heard much, MUCH worse.
Overall, this soundtrack is just about as uneven as the movie itself! Half of it is pretty good, half of it is a bit “meh” and some of it isn’t really worth it. On the whole, though, it’s ok. You’ve got something for everybody in there and it’s unlikely you won’t find one song you like in there.
Personally, I’m happy just sticking to my Prince Batman soundtrack and Danny Elfman’s amazing Batman Returns score but the Batman Forever OST is pretty harmless and does have its moments, to be fair.
Give it a go, just don't expect any joygasms.