90s score: 9/10
2020 score: 7.5/10
For those of us that grew up in the 90s, there are probably a few TV theme songs that strike a nostalgic chord. Maybe it’s Love Spit Love covering the classic Smiths track “How Soon is Now” from Charmed or, depending on your age, the instantly recognizable theme of Bill Nye The Science Guy. But if you were locked into The WB or YTV in the later parts of the evening, there was a good chance you heard the howl of a wolf along with the heavily distorted slide of an electric guitar. It signified you were about to watch an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
As a teen, Buffy consumed my life in every way imaginable. High school was just an obstacle I had to endure while waiting for the next episode to air. I’d have to write a twenty-page essay to convey my feelings for the show, but today, I’ll focus on one aspect of it: the music. Buffy and her pals (the scooby gang, as they called themselves), would frequent a popular bar/venue called The Bronze on almost every episode, and with it, came an array of real-life bands that would perform on stage, like Michelle Branch and The Breeders. Little did I know how much the music influenced a lot of my taste as I got older. But it all culminated into a brilliant little soundtrack that was released in 1999: the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Soundtrack.
I wonder if Nerf Herder knew what a tremendous impact that short, little minute-and-a-half track would have on their career when they wrote the theme song for Buffy. Either way, the soundtrack opens with it, and as fucking awesome as the track is, it’s not indicative of the eclectic songs to follow; like “Teenage FBI” by Guided By Voices, a song that couldn’t be further away on the spectrum from the Buffy Theme. Grabbed from their eleventh studio album, Do The Collapse, the poppier, semi lo-fi sounds would fit right at home at The Bronze (even though, like a lot of the tracks on the soundtrack, it was never actually in an episode of Buffy).
Arguably the most popular band on the soundtrack, Garbage, come up next with “Temptation Waits.” There’s a good chance you heard this song a lot in the 90s, as it was licensed to Buffy’s spin-off show Angel, Dawson’s Creek, Sopranos, and more. It’s a quintessential 90s song in every way imaginable and one of my favourites on the entire soundtrack.
While my love for the show remains unchanged, I realize my feelings for some of the tracks aren’t the same. Quite a few bands on this thing have long since disbanded and honestly, it’s probably for the best. Hepburn was a four-piece British rock band with a poppy, generic-as-hell tune called “I Quit” that features cringeworthy lyrics like “‘cause loving you’s a job I don’t need, ain’t gonna go to work no more.” Then there’s Splendid’s song, “Charge,” which suffers the same sort of issues as Hepburn’s track, except this one is compounded by some unimpressive recording.
But when you get the heart of the record, you’re going to find some true gems from bands like K’s Choice, Bif Naked, Four Star Mary and one of my favourites, The Sundays, with their cover of the Rolling Stones Classic, “Wild Horses.” Sure, it’s partially a time stamp of an era that’s not quite representative of today, but then again, isn’t that precisely why we revisit those older records we love so much? The Buffy The Vampire Slayer Soundtrack might not be for everyone in 2020, but I still think it’s an interesting soundtrack worth exploring.
Written by Dominic Abate
*edited by Danielle Kenedy