Trainspotting, the soundtrack.

I first watched Trainspotting (1996) in my last year of school. We were studying it in our media class and it’s fair to say I absolutely fell in love with it.

Trainspotting was the highest-grossing British film of 1996 and 10 years on it’s still as good as ever. 

After its release, it became the fourth highest-grossing British film in history.

Many people will have come across this ‘franchise’ through an array of formats whether it was the novel, film, or soundtrack, and even though it was the film that introduced me to this heroin-filled, Scottish world, it was the soundtrack that I clung to.

Both soundtracks from Trainspotting and Trainspotting: T2 are best-selling albums, and in their own right I must add, but it is the original that this post is centered upon.

The soundtrack for Trainspotting has become a massive pop culture phenomenon and its songs are divided into 3 groups that represent different styles and eras throughout music history:

  1. Pop music from the 70s. Artist in this category are those who are closely linked with heroin and drug abuse – Iggy Pop, 
  2. The Britpop era of the 90s – Blur and Pulp.
  3. Techno-dance music of the 90s – Bedrock and Ice MC.

This soundtrack has gone on to receive some very well deserved recognition. In 2007, Vanity Fair ranked the Trainspotting original soundtrack at #7 for best motion picture soundtrack in history, 11 years after the film was originally released. It was also ranked #11 /100 by Entertainment Weekly on their best movie soundtrack list and #17 /25 by Rolling Stones in their best soundtracks of ALL TIME article in 2013.

All of these credentials show us how well thought out this soundtrack was and how it worked perfectly for and with the movie itself.

Around the time Trainspotting was being filmed and released (1995/96), there was a major change happening in the British music industry. This time saw the rise of Britpop, even though old fashioned pop was still rooted in the British culture. The Spice Girls were gaining popularity and Oasis were still dominating but there was a shift happening where music was changing from live sounding guitars to a more digitalised and electronic beat.

The aim for the Trainspotting soundtrack was to do something in a way that had never been done before, to champion the alternative music legacy of 1996 Britain with a focus on presenting electronic music on equal footing with rock music.

The film marketing campaign was extremely different to any low budget British film of its time. In the UK alone, they spent £850,000 – half as much as the film’s production costs. This made the film look like a Hollywood blockbuster rather than a small British production. 

The success of this film and soundtrack, you could say then, rests on this massive marketing gamble that took place, and I am so very thankful that it did for this soundtrack is one of the best, and a favourite, to which I have ever listened too.

If you have never watched Trainspotting or listened to it’s soundtrack, I would seriously recommend that you do and I hope that you enjoy both just as much as I do.

Song of the Day: Lust for Life – Iggy Pop

Why? It’s the backing music for the infamous ‘Choose Life’ opening scene from the original Trainspotting.