The 90’s was a glorious decade for music. Particularly the early part of it when the most undiluted and raw rock music ever smashed into the mainstream courtesy of a town called Seattle. Bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains were invading the stereos of youths, and no doubt playing the soundtrack of many love-struck/lovelorn adolescents in the tricky world of relationships. So logic suggests a movie about dating in the burgeoning Seattle scene would be an absolute winner – a cool rom-com featuring a killer soundtrack – this is what director Cameron Crowe aimed to deliver with his film Singles.
So Is It Any Good?
As far as movie-watching experiences go, Singles is forgettable. The main crux of the story revolves around Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick’s ‘will-they-won’t-they’ relationship and Matt Dillon and Bridget Fonda’s ‘you don’t know what you got till it’s gone’ relationship. Any emotional connection to the characters flatline though because of ham-fisted dialogue and wooden acting (I appreciate each character is supposed to be of a different social background but I feel this movie is horribly miscast). The comedy side of things fares little better (at this point you must be questioning the merit of the big fat ‘YES’ up top).
Yet the film is continuously engaging as Crowe baits you with slices of the muscular and melodic soundtrack to give Singles your undivided attention. It’s clear the only reason why this film exists is because of all the seminal artists and bands on the soundtrack; I’ve often thought of the film as a love-letter to grunge more so than a serious film examining relationships. The cameos from Pearl Jam (playing band mates of Matt Dillon’s fictional band Citizen Dick) and live cuts performed by Soundgarden and Alice in Chains are packed with more heart and authenticity than the actual actors give.
It was with a heavy heart I re-watched Singles recently to write this review as a tribute of sorts to Chris Cornell, who sadly passed away two months ago. The Singles soundtrack wasn’t just the music I grew up with, it’s the music I listen to now. Chris Cornell is such a huge presence in the film lending one scene the sombre majesty of ‘Seasons’ and ripping the roof off a club with ‘Birth Ritual’. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling having to write these words down in memory of him but one can only hope he and Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) are at peace.
While the film does have shortcomings, they’re ultimately drowned out by the phenomenal voices and distorted guitars of the Seattle sound; If you’re a rock fan this is a must see if only to hear some music that defined a generation and catch fun glimpses of the artists behind it. Singles came out the same year as Wayne’s World and despite not having a pair of characters as memorable as Garth and Wayne – Singles does have Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder – and that is worth remembering.