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(Credit: Activités culturelles UdeM)

Film

Taika Waititi picks 12 songs "to play in your time machine"

New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi recently directed the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the shape of Thor: Love and Thunder, a project which has become the seventh highest-grossing film of the year. However, the filmmaker began his career as a comedian, featuring in the mid-1990s comedy troupe ‘So You’re a Man’, which earned him moderate success, followed by a stint as one half of comedy duo ‘The Humourbeasts’.

From there, Waititi’s interest extended to what he has become most famous for – directing. One of his early shorts – Two Cars, One Night, released in 2004 – earned the filmmaker an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film, although Andrea Arnold beat him for her incredible short film Wasp. However, Waititi still left his mark on the ceremony by pretending to be asleep when his nomination was announced.

By 2007, he had released his first feature film, Eagle vs Shark, which received a mixed reception. However, it was his 2010 film Boy which gave him greater success. Boy topped the New Zealand box office upon its release, surpassing Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and DreamWorks animation How to Train Your Dragon. The film was praised for its mixture of comedy and emotionality, which would define much of Waititi’s future work.

His 2014 feature film What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary horror comedy starring Waititi as a vampire, led the director towards widespread international recognition. Co-written and co-directed by frequent collaborator Jermaine Clement, the film was highly commended, with Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian calling it “the best comedy of the year”. With a $6.9million total at the box office, the film’s success led to the commission of a television adaptation which earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for its second season.

Waititi had even more success with his film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, starring Sam Neill, the highest-grossing New Zealand film of all time. But by 2017, the filmmaker was heading for even greater territory, securing his place as the director of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok. Despite the unoriginality of Marvel movies – the filmic equivalent of fast food – Waititi’s effort was received rather well.

This led to Waititi’s Oscar-winning movie Jojo Rabbit, starring the director himself as Adolf Hitler. Waititi also took home a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media. Music defines much of Waititi’s style, so when it came to Thor: Love and Thunder, he made his mark on the Marvel film by curating a playlist of both popular and less-known tracks.

The soundtrack includes tracks by Guns N’ Roses, Mary J. Blige, and ABBA, although his desire to have some Kate Bush tracks backfired when the Duffer Brothers beat him to it, using ‘Running Up That Hill’ in the newest season of Stranger Things. Waititi has made no secret of his love for music, and in 2015 the filmmaker curated his playlist for NZ On Air Music, entitled ‘Songs to Play In Your Time Machine’.

With a penchant for older tunes, Waititi’s playlist has a distinct lack of contemporary music, instead picking tracks created by mainly lesser-known New Zealand artists from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Although he has declared his love for artists such as Public Enemy, Metallica, and AC/DC in the past, his time machine choices are distinctively less abrasive.

The director’s playlist includes multiple tracks from New Zealand indie rock band The Chills, ‘Pink Frost’ and ‘Heavenly Pop Hit’. The band were a staple of New Zealand’s ‘Dunedin sound’, a style of indie pop that gained popularity amongst university students in Dunedin during the beginning of the 1980s.

Waititi’s playlist also includes tracks from The Verlaines, The Clean, and The 3Ds – all bands associated with the Dunedin movement. The groups are noted for their jangly guitars, reverb, and mellow vocal performances and went on to inspire artists such as Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Cat Power, and Mudhoney.

Waititi’s playlist is very different from the songs that define his Thor movies, proving that he has a very eclectic musical taste. Whether you’re looking for some reggae, pop rock, indie, electronica, or noise-rock – the filmmaker’s playlist has got you covered.

Check out the full list below.

Taika Waititi’s ‘Songs to Play in Your Time Machine’:

  • ‘Pink Frost’ – The Chills
  • ‘Dragons and Demons’ – Herbs
  • ‘Death and the Maiden’ – The Verlaines
  • ‘Heavenly Pop Hit’ – The Chills
  • ‘Spooky’ – 3Ds
  • ‘Out on the Street’ – Space Waltz
  • ‘My Electronic Husband’ – Bachelorette
  • ‘A Man and A Woman’ – The Front Lawn
  • ‘Forever Tuesday Morning’ – The Mockers
  • ‘Blue Summer’ – The Phoenix Foundation
  • ‘Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!’ – The Mint Chicks
  • ‘Anything Could Happen’ – The Clean

An obscure pick comes in the form of ‘My Electric Husband’ by Bachelorette, the project of New Zealander Annabel Alpers, who blends folk, electronica, pop, and psychedelia. Furthermore, Waititi picks out New Zealand glam-rockers Space Waltz, who, despite their number one hit in 1974 with ‘Out on the Street’, have since faded into obscurity.

See the playlist, below.