Donnas, Others Set Tough-Girl Tone On 'Jawbreaker'

Imperial Teen, Friggs and Letters to Cleo among acts providing sonic edge to dark comedy soundtrack.

Friggs guitarist Palmyra Delran says you can't miss the theme running through the "Jawbreaker" soundtrack album.

The disc, which features her band alongside such all-girl or girl-fronted acts as the Donnas, Shampoo, Edna Swap, the Prissteens and Letters to Cleo, is clearly dominated, she says, by a "tough-chick thing."

"Each song really kicks ass. I'm totally into it," Delran said. "We're really happy to be connected with these bands and the bad chicks in the film."

The soundtrack to the recently released dark comedy features such songs as the Friggs' single "Bad Word for a Good Thing" (RealAudio excerpt), the Donnas' "Rock 'N' Roll Machine," Letters to Cleo's "I See," Grand Mal's "Stay in Bed" and Imperial Teen's "Yoo Hoo."

When it came to compiling the album, soundtrack producers Sharlotte Blake and Peter Coquillard went after "upbeat, girly pop with an edge," Blake said. "The idea was to keep it up and young and fun -- kind of girly oriented, but with an edge, as opposed to being pure pop."

Though most of the songs are not exclusive to the soundtrack, it does include a few custom-made recordings. Letters to Cleo re-recorded their "I See" for the album, while Edna Swap knocked out a live version of the Police's "Next to You."

Music is used cleverly throughout the film, which chronicles the activities of three high school girls after their ice-queen ringleader, played by Rose McGowan, accidentally kills one of their friends by gagging her with a jawbreaker. "I thought that was the best use of current music in a movie that I've seen in a long time," said Delran, who went to see the Columbia Tri-Star film with her Friggs bandmates shortly after its Feb. 19 release. "Even with the lyrics -- the lyrics of the songs really go along with what's happening in the scene."

Imperial Teen's infectious and provocative anthem "Yoo Hoo" (RealAudio excerpt), from their new album What Is Not to Love, serves as appropriate background music for the girls' strut down a high school hallway. (That band's song "Water Boy," from their 1996 album, Seasick, is also on the album.)

Meanwhile, the 1984 heavy-metal hit "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by German rockers the Scorpions accompanies a scene in which shock rocker Marilyn Manson makes a cameo appearance having sex with real-life fiancée McGowan.

Blake admits the Scorpions song is somewhat of a departure from the girl-dominated majority of the movie's tracks. "It's definitely a deviation, but we included it because that scene is so pivotal to the movie and everybody walks away remembering it," she said.

San Francisco Bay Area rock girls the Donnas also have a cameo appearance in the film, in which they play themselves and perform their staple "Rock 'N Roll Machine" (RealAudio excerpt) at the prom.

Those who have observed the film's smooth melding of music and storyline may be surprised that Blake and Coquillard were recruited to coordinate the soundtrack rather late in the game -- just two weeks before the film's final mix, Blake said. "We just scrambled," she said.

Although Transister's gentle acoustic ballad "Flow" is included on the soundtrack compilation, other slow tracks featured in the film were left off the album to maintain an overall-upbeat vibe. The Friggs' cover of '80s rock diva Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" was also left off the album, even though it offers a memorable moment in the film.

Delran says the band took a "'Pulp Fiction'" approach to recording the Benatar song, referring to Quentin Tarantino's 1994 dark comedy. "Our sense of humor didn't allow us to do a straight version. We changed it around a little, made it sound more like [surf genius] Dick Dale," Delran said. "They needed it in, like, three days, so we popped into the studio and banged it out."

Additional songs on Jawbreaker include Shampoo's "Don't Call Me Babe" and "Trouble," Grand Mal's "Stay in Bed," the Prissteens' "Beat You Up" and Drill's rendition of Cyndi Lauper's 1984 pop hit "She Bop."

The Jawbreaker soundtrack hit record-store shelves last month.