The Trainspotting soundtrack is a hedonistic sonic mecca. From the opening growl of Lust For Life to the stirring ecstasy of Born Slippy, the tunes that accompany Danny Boyle’s iconic 1996 film quickly became synonymous with its euphoric highs and soul-crushing lows; its dirty toilets and Ewan McGregor monologues. You can’t think of the opening chase without thinking of Iggy Pop’s snarl, nor can you imagine the overdose scene without Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. The original tracklist encapsulated a wild, unshackled, drug-fuelled lifestyle, born out of a culture of alienation and displacement fostered by the ideologies of the Thatcher era. The soundtrack isn’t an extension of the film, nor vice versa – the two are firmly entangled.
The long-awaited sequel, T2, drops on Friday, capturing Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie again – twenty years later. So, what can we expect from the soundtrack?
Below, we’ve dissected each of the fifteen tracks outlined on the tracklist, reflecting on what kind of role they could play in the new film. With everything from an Iggy Pop remix to Blondie and lots and lots of Young Fathers, it’s possible (whisper it quietly) that Danny Boyle might just have gone and done it again.
Lust For Life (Prodigy Remix) – Iggy Pop
Now this could be interesting, couldn’t it. As an opening number, Lust For Life set the scene for Danny Boyle’s original film perfectly. It’s straight up rock ‘n’ roll verve, capturing the joyous, indulgent hysteria of wilful self-destruction. Lust For Life doesn’t stop, Lust For Life doesn’t think – it just does. So, what can we expect from a Prodigy remix of Iggy Pop’s famous opener? Exactly the same, only with an added 4/4 thump behind it.
Shotgun Mouthwash – High Contrast
Number two on the T2 soundtrack sees more for the clubland generation, with a new track from drum and bass stalwart High Contrast. Unveiled this week on Mistajam’s Radio 1 show, Shotgun Mouthwash is a thumping, no-holds-barred slice of dance utopia, that indicates Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie might not be finished with Edinburgh’s nightlife just yet.
Silk – Wolf Alice
The song that scored the sequel’s trailer indicates a transitional moment for the Trainspotting story. This is the Skag Boys in 2017; a lot has changed, including the sounds. Silk is a rousing, emotive number from the indie-rock wunderkinds Wolf Alice, that signals a new phase for Irvine Welsh’s characters. Whether they like it or not, they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into the present day – and as frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s hauntingly honest lyrics demonstrate, it’s not always a nice place.
Get Up – Young Fathers
The first musical instalment from Edinburgh trio Young Fathers is an eclectic hybrid of pop, rock, hip-hop and dance. Their message – invigorating executed though it is – is simple: “Come here and do the right thing / Get up and have a party.” That’s all. Much like Wolf Alice, their involvement signals a new era for the Trainspotting canon – only this time, it has its soul planted firmly in Scotland. Keep an eye out for their involvement, they’re an important part of T2.
Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
And we’re back in the club. The explicit, suggestive 1983 single from Frankie Goes To Hollywood is another ode to reckless hedonism, only this time, it’s less about the substance abuse and more about the, well – shagging. Given that the film is partly based on Irvine Welsh’s follow up novel Porno, don’t rule out sex being a major part of the T2 narrative. If so, Relax is the perfect tune.
Eventually But (Spud’s Letter to Gail) – Underworld/Ewen Bremner
There are couple of enigmatic titles in the new tracklist, but this one’s the most perplexing. What does it mean? Are we going to see Ewen Bremner, in full Spud character, laying down verses over some of the hardest progressive trance we’ve been blessed with this side of the millennium? Probably not. That’d be great though, thinking about it. Someone should really make that happen. This track is also a welcome return for Underworld, aka Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, the duo synonymous with the original film’s soundtrack due to their seminal track, Born Slippy (but more on that later).
God Only Knows – Young Fathers
Part two of Danny Boyle’s love-in with the Scottish hip-hop group is a really exciting one. Speaking about the track, the British director said: “Trainspotting, the original book is like a modern Ulysses. It’s unsurpassed I think, and reading it is still like the ‘rush of ocean to the heart.’ You’re always looking for the heartbeat of a film. For Trainspotting it was Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy.’ For T2 It’s Young Fathers. Their songs are my heartbeat for the film. And Only God Knows is that rush again. The ocean. The heart.” God Only Knows is an original track, written specially for the film. It’s bold, bonkers, brilliant.
Dad’s Best Friend – Rubberbandits
Now I’m no expert, but if bookies were taking bets on who’d make it onto the T2 soundtrack, sticking a tenner on Irish comedy duo Rubberbandits would probably have earned you close to the equivalent winnings for Leicester City winning the Premier League last season. Nobody would have called it, but here Rubberbandits are nonetheless. Now we come to think about it, Dad’s Best Friend is actually the perfect Trainspotting anthem. It’s a weird, frightening burst of violent confessional, that among the chaos, is unsettlingly, melodic and catchy. This has Franco Begbie written all over it.
Dreaming – Blondie
If Rubberbandits were a curveball, then think of this one as straight down the middle; within the Trainspotting universe, Debbie Harry and co’s ode to pensive partying makes perfect sense. In a song that explores the line between dreams and reality, don’t rule out seeing it make an appearance as the Skag Boys zip in and out of consciousness.
Radio Ga Ga – Queen
Here’s another classic, with Freddie Mercury belting out his love for his little old radio. Taking such an iconic song and placing it into the filmic universe is a ballsy move, but when it‘s done right, it provides both song and movie with a whole new dimension. Take what Scorsese did with Gimme Shelter, for instance. Radio Ga Ga could be Boyle’s greatest trick – and any synchronised handclaps will only be a bonus.
It’s Like That – Run D.M.C. vs Jason Nevis
“Unemployment at a record high / People coming, people going, people born to die / Don’t ask me, because I don’t know why / But it’s like that, and that’s the way it is.” It’s Like That is a harmonious balance of anti-establishment sentiment and hard-hitting singalong, which makes it the perfect addition to the T2 soundtrack.
(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais – The Clash
Trainspotting is a blast of pure, punkish energy, so it was only going to be a matter of time before The Clash found their way onto a tracklist. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais is a piece about unity amid violence and social decline; despite being one the band’s more low-key numbers, there’s a stirring quality to the song that resonates through on every listen. Picture it now: Renton and Spud, after all these years, reunited to the words of Strummer.
Rain or Shine – Young Fathers
It really is Young Fathers’ film, isn’t it? Rain or Shine is a threatening, organ-led cut that’s riddled with existential angst about mortality. If ever there was a track needed to convince Renton and co that they’re getting too old for this, Rain or Shine is the one. The final contribution from Young Fathers is an eerie remonstrator of just how close death can be – let’s hope they hear the warning.
Whitest Boy on the Beach – Fat White Family
Ah, Ye Olde Fat Whites, singing their songs in Trainspotting; is there anything more fitting? A drug-fuelled odyssey within a drug-fuelled odyssey. Whitest Boy on the Beach is the rowdy highlight from the Peckham band’s latest record Songs For Our Mothers, and you’d struggle to find a track that does a better job of sonically encapsulating all that Fat White Family are: messy, unpredictable, erratic and wildly fun. Remind you of anyone?
Slow Slippy – Underworld
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Then, once you’re finished, choose what we assume to be an unplugged, sedated version of Underworld’s iconic closer. After that, you’re set. Bring it on.
‘T2 Trainspotting’ is in UK cinemas 27th January.