When soundtracks to winter films hit store shelves this month, they'll offer new work from names both familiar and fresh, from rock's master songwriter to kids 40 years his junior.
Bob Dylan, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Sugar Ray and Air will issue new cuts this month in conjunction with movies, while U2, Eminem, Hole, RZA and Elton John are preparing work for the months ahead.
Among the more anticipated rock tracks is Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed," the 58-year-old songwriting legend's first new studio work since the quiet, contemplative Grammy winner Time out of Mind (1997). The song is the opening number on the "Wonder Boys" soundtrack (Feb. 15), which also includes previously released songs from Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison and John Lennon.
"This isn't a continuation of Time out of Mind," said a Columbia Records spokesperson who asked not to be named. "This song was written specifically for the motion picture, with character and plot in mind."
Filming for a video of "Things Have Changed" wrapped on Wednesday, the spokesperson said. In addition to Dylan, the clip features Michael Douglas, who stars in "Wonder Boys," as an anxious writer on his way to a literary festival with a young protégé.
Veteran hitmaker Madonna and 19-year-old Aguilera highlight the soundtrack to "The Next Best Thing" (Feb. 22), which includes Aguilera's funky "Don't Make Me Love You" (RealAudio excerpt). The film features the Material Girl as a
woman who becomes pregnant by her gay friend.
Madonna's techno cover of Don McLean's "American Pie" (RealAudio excerpt) has already piqued interest in the disc, which also includes her new ethereal electronic ballad "Time Stood Still." Tony Novia, an editor for the trade journal Radio & Records, said that single alone will drive album sales for the immediate future.
Young pop stars also dominate the soundtrack for "Snow Day," the school's-out teen film with comedians Chevy Chase, Chris Elliott and a cameo appearance by punk icon Iggy Pop. Newcomer Hoku, the 17-year-old daughter of Hawaiian singer Don Ho, opens the disc with "Another Dumb Blonde" (RealAudio excerpt). The album, released Tuesday, also includes new cuts from Jordan Knight and "Summer Girls" singers LFO.
Already in stores is the album for heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio's film "The Beach." Electronic-music acts such as Moby, Leftfield and UNKLE dominate the disc, which also includes "Spinning Away" (RealAudio excerpt), by pop-rockers Sugar Ray.
On Feb. 29, French underground pop duo Air will bow with their score to the movie "The Virgin Suicides," about a series of teen deaths in a Michigan family.
"Because our music is very cinematic, a lot of people have asked us to take some songs from [the 1998 album] Moon Safari and put them in movies," Air's Nicolas Godin said recently. "We refused because we really wanted to compose especially for a movie."
Other soundtracks already released or on the way include Gun Shy (Feb. 8), with previously released material from Tom Waits and James Brown, and Third World Cop (Feb. 22), featuring new music by reggae stalwarts Sly & Robbie. The soundtrack to Drowning Mona (Feb. 29) will include '70s hits from Three Dog Night and from Gladys Knight and the Pips.
Looking ahead, March will see several new songs from U2 and their frontman, Bono, on the "Million Dollar Hotel" soundtrack, along with Elton John's companion album for the animated film "The Road to El Dorado." Hole covers Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" for the movie album The Crow: Salvation, while the "Black and White" soundtrack features cuts by rappers Eminem, Everlast and Big Punisher, the latter of whom died on Monday in White Plains, N.Y.
On track for April is new work from Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA on the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film "Ghost Dog."