Originally appeared on FanSided Entertainment
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters this Friday, but Marvel released the soundtrack two weeks ago. Just like last time, fans are looking forward to seeing how each song on Awesome Mix Vol. 2 fits in the movie almost as much as they’re looking forward to the movie itself.
Three years ago, when Marvel released Awesome Mix Vol. 1 ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy, fans’ excitement rose tenfold when they saw the unconventional tracklist full of 70s one-hit wonders.
Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is getting an equally positive reception. The soundtrack has its own share of famous hits, but recognizable one-hit wonders are noticeably lacking. Taking their place are deep cuts from well-known artists that might be unknown to the casual fan, and songs and bands that some people have never heard before.
That being said, anyone who was worried James Gunn wouldn’t be able to replicate the sheer awesomeness of Awesome Mix Vol. 1 can rest easy. Vol. 2 is still a great album. But is it as great as the O.G. Awesome Mix? Before you read on, set the mood with Spotify’s playlist of The Complete Mixtape!
This comparison is going to be skewed from the start, because the disparity between the two is rather large. Vol. 1 is heavy on the hits, and these hit scan be broken down into two categories.
First, James Gunn chose some of the cheesiest, catchiest songs from the 70s in “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Come and Get Your Love,” “Escape” and “I Want You Back” — songs you will always sing along to. Then he found some of the most soulful, emotional songs from the 70s: “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” “I’m Not in Love,” “Ooh Child” and “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough.” These four don’t have the same upbeat pop feel as that first set but they carry enough weight to be considered hits.
Vol. 2, on the other hand, is light on the hits. The songs most people should recognize are “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Surrender,” “The Chain,” “Flash Light” and “My Sweet Lord.” Now, there are songs by other recognizable artists like Cat Stevens and Sam Cooke but again, to the casual fan who only knows “Wild World” and “Wonderful World,” the songs included may be unrecognizable.
Advantage: Awesome Mix Vol. 1
Although Awesome Mix Vol. 1 is a phenomenal soundtrack and album in general, it’s rather … simple. As previously mentioned, more than half of the tracklist is composed of carefree 70s pop and tugging-at-the-heartstrings soul and soft rock. The only songs that are drastically different are the punk-inspired “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways, Joan Jett’s first band, and the glam rock “Moonage Daydream,” from David Bowie’s best album, Ziggy Stardust.
Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is much more deserving of genuine “mix” status. Prog rock? Check: “Mr Blue Sky,” by Electric Light Orchestra, the most influential prog rock band ever. Funk? Check: “Flash Light” by Parliament. Soft rock? Check: “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, “Brandy” by Looking Glass, and “Come a Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans. There’s soul in the form of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me.” There’s even country-disco, which should be an official genre if it isn’t already. Seriously, go listen to “Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell and tell me there aren’t both country and disco influences there.
Advantage: Vol. 2
Bonus Round: Featured Artists
Awesome Mix Vol. 2 concludes with this nifty little number called “Guardians Inferno” by The Sneepers, a band formed specifically for this song. Fun fact: Sneepers are an alien race in the Marvel universe. Another fun fact: David Hasselhoff sings on “Guardians Inferno.” Let me tell you, this song is the epitome of the 80s. Not only is The Hoff a featured artist, but the song itself is an amalgamation of disco, synth pop and video game sounds. Is it a good song? The jury’s still out. Is it entertaining? Oh, yes. Even more fun fact: Hasselhoff covered “Hooked on a Feeling.” It’s hard to use complete sentences to fully describe it so just … enjoy?
Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is clearly a superior album when it comes to depth and variety. It really seems like Gunn put more exhaustive work into selecting the tracklist, and he should be commended for that and for introducing many of us to new artists and songs. Vol. 2 just has more substance.
However, Awesome Mix Vol.1 is more of what people look for in a fun soundtrack that accompanies an equally fun movie: catchy, classic, well-known and well-loved hits. These are the songs you can sing and dance to in the car, in the shower, in the grocery store … anywhere really. Timeless classics just can’t be beat.
This is going to sound just as cheesy as loving pina coladas and getting caught in the rain — in fairness, you can’t write about the Guardians of the Galaxy and not get cheesy — but both soundtracks are winners in their own way. I’m cringing as I’m typing this, but I don’t care.
Jam out to Awesome Mix Vol. 2 this Friday, May 5, when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will finally be in a theater near you and click the link above to download the album for yourself!