As "New Moon" opens, there's a complication in the story of our star-crossed lovers: While Bella may love Edward forever and ever-eh, Edward thinks it's best to take a break. Enter boy-next-door Jacob, who-in the grand narrative tradition of mystical Native Americans-is a werewolf.
This love triangle forms the plot of "New Moon," and accordingly the soundtrack is moody and wistful, but with an undercurrent of strum und drang machismo. Each song is exclusive to the soundtrack, as-yet-unreleased, and most were written specifically for the movie, remixed or given new lyrics to fit the film's themes. "I was very inspired by the John Hughes movies of the '80s, which made me listen to indie rock bands that probably weren't meant for 13-year-olds: Yello, the Psychedelic Furs, New Order," says music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, who also produced the album, as she did for the soundtrack to "Twilight." "Hopefully we can create a similar moment in time for 2009 teenagers."
Patsavas received coffins and Dracula pictures in her South Pasadena, Calif., office from bands trying to get her to listen to their tracks for inclusion on the "New Moon" soundtrack. "The big difference between the last album and this album is that the last album we really had to go out there and beg and plead for the first album and for this one, it was completely the reverse," Katz says.
The first single is Death Cab for Cutie's "Meet Me on the Equinox," currently No. 15 on the Alternative chart. The song debuted on MTV.com Sept. 13 in tandem with the Video Music Awards; the music video, a sepia-toned intermingling of the band with footage from the movie, debuted Oct. 7.
"With Death Cab we felt like they were hip enough, they were cool enough, and they were musical enough and broad enough without being super commercial super pop," Katz says. "And one thing Summit is cognizant of, when we choose an artist-and they choose us, it's a mutual thing-is that we want enthusiasm."
And Death Cab is nothing if not enthusiastic about discussing the travails of Bella, Edward and Jacob. It can follow in the footsteps of the singer of the "Twilight" soundtrack's first single: Paramore's Hayley Williams, who blogged relentlessly about the series on the band's Web site, posting pictures of herself holding the books and attending the movie's premiere. Her fan-girl joy caught on; the "Twilight" soundtrack significantly boosted Paramore's profile with its single from the album, "Decode," selling 927,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Paramore did a fantastic job for us-and for them," Katz says. "We want somebody who will feel really good about being involved in the project and talk it up."
But the plan is to work "New Moon" like a traditional album, with several singles being released. Two contenders for the next single slot are Lykke Li's "Possibility," which is the longest musical take in the movie and played over a pivotal scene in the film as Bella pines for Edward, or the Killers' "A White Demon Love Song."
Patsavas has a longstanding relationship with Atlantic -- her imprint, Chop Shop Records, is affiliated with Atlantic, and "New Moon" artist Anya Marina is signed to it -- but ultimately the soundtrack's tone was a group effort. Marina, for instance, was selected by director Chris Weitz after Patsavas, looking to boost the number of female vocalists on the soundtrack, sent him a compilation CD with 15 female artists. Marina's cover of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" won him over.
"[Patsavas] doesn't get force-fed priorities to follow because they're going to be big songs," says Livia Tortella, GM/executive VP of marketing and creative media at Atlantic. "She starts with the feeling of the film and then she creates a mood around it. I can't tell her, 'Oh, you've got to use this band because it's a priority.' I've got to give her a band that's going to fit the mood she's creating and also has a bit of a base so I can open up the film. They're about the mood, about the feeling of it, and that's really exciting because it's really creative."
The Yorke track came about after Patsavas established the relationship by licensing the Radiohead track "15 Step" for the end credits of "Twilight." "Early on in the summer I was speaking quite a bit to [Bryce Edge, Yorke's manager] and he said Thom had something already recorded that would be appropriate for the movie," Patsavas says. "I was thrilled."
Patsavas' credentials are well-established-she's the music supervisor for "Gossip Girl" and "The OC" -- but the music for the "Twilight" series also receives invaluable support from Meyer, the books' author. The fourth novel in the series, "Breaking Dawn," is dedicated to Muse, which appears on both soundtracks. "They are super important to the 'Twilight' family," Patsavas says.
Meyer writes on her blog at StephenieMeyer.com about what music she listened to while writing the novels. Her site now includes streams of her suggested songs, as well as links to purchase ringtones. "You start out with a [reading] experience that people are so excited about and she's such a passionate lover of music, so it has her stamp all over it," Tortella says. "The music is like a character with a life of its own, and Stephenie gave birth to that."
Since Meyer wrote "Twilight" in 2005 and started singing the praises of Muse, the band has seen steady sales in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan; when the track "Supermassive Black Hole" was placed on the "Twilight" soundtrack, the band's popularity jumped. In the six months leading up to the release of "Twilight," Muse's 2006 album "Black Holes and Revelations" sold 41,000 copies, according to SoundScan. In the six months following the film's U.S. bow, the set sold 73,000-up 78.5% compared with the pre-"Twilight" week.
"Supermassive Black Hole" had already peaked on the Alternative radio airplay chart at No. 6 in September 2007. In the track's two-and-a-half years of release before the "Twilight" film's debut, it had sold 154,000 downloads. In the 11 months since the film hit screens, the track sold another 310,000.
"Some time ago, when the band was playing in Arizona, we invited [Meyer] to a show," says Muse's manager, Q Prime's Cliff Burnstein. " 'Twilight' director Catherine Hardwicke wanted to use 'Supermassive' in a very long scene, with not a lot of dialogue in the foreground. We thought, 'This is fun; this is a nice woman who writes these books, she's a fan of ours, let's get involved in this.' No one was really thinking at the time, 'This is a huge opportunity.' "
The "New Moon" soundtrack features a remix of Muse's "I Belong to You" that was rerecorded to emphasize the track's guitars and takes out the French opera interlude in the original version. "[The band] loved the change they made, Chris [Weitz] was really pleased, Alex was really pleased, and at the last minute we were able to get it into the movie," Burnstein says.
The soundtrack also features a track by score composer and multiple Academy Award nominee Alexandre Desplat. (The score from "Twilight" was by Carter Burwell on Atlantic, and sold 182,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, a fantastic sales number for a score; it's the 11th-biggest-selling soundtrack of 2009. A label deal for the "New Moon" score is still pending.) Weitz asked Desplat for a sweeping, romantic score-along the lines of what Maurice Jarre did for "Doctor Zhivago."
"There is a central love theme for Bella and Edward, but Chris felt that we didn't want to put that out front because in the film Bella and Edward are separated through much of it," Desplat says. "You don't hear that theme in its full treatment until the end of the movie. For the soundtrack album it's an arrangement of that melody but just for piano."
Katz is mulling hiring a songwriter and an artist to create and record lyrics to the piece, and then release it as a single-much like the teaming of Bryan Adams, Mutt Lange and composer Michael Kamen on the 1991 film "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."
It all speaks to a broader theme of the soundtrack: It's more than just a souvenir of the movie -- it's an album that can be worked to radio along the lines of a traditional artist release. "We see the soundtrack as an entity in its own right, which obviously you can't say about every soundtrack," he says.