Guardians of the Galaxy’s Hit Soundtrack Is a Mixtape of Lies

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 14 2014 6:00 PM

Guardians of the Galaxy’s Hit Soundtrack Is a Mixtape of Lies

Album art for Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1

Album art for Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1

Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is now at the top of the Billboard charts, showing that all my parents’ Columbia Monster Hits compilations of the ’70s are still as relevant as the “Cool New Music: Summer 2014” playlist I’m listening to as I write this.

Unfortunately, this hit album is a mixtape of lies. Part of the appeal of the soundtrack is that it ostensibly recreates the mixtape Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) keeps at his side as he travels through the universe. The cover recreates the look of Star-Lord’s tape, down to the title, Awesome Mix Vol. 1, and the tracklist largely reflects what we hear of the mix in the film. This is significant because the tape plays no mere incidental role in Guardians of the Galaxy—it’s the movie’s emotional core. The compilation comes from Star-Lord’s deceased mother, and it represents his last tether to his past. As director James Gunn has explained, “It was of songs that she loved, all songs from the 1970s, and that’s the only thing he has left of his mother and that’s the only thing he has left of his home on Earth.” Given the mix’s thematic importance, and the way the soundtrack is marketed, you’d think it would reflect the canonical tracklist, the one carefully sequenced by Star-Lord’s beloved mother.


Instead, the OST shoehorns in two songs—Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”—that were quite plainly tracks from Awesome Mix Vol. 2, which Quill unwraps toward the end of the film.

Not only is this narratively inconsistent with the film, but it disrupts the mix’s aesthetic integrity. As the popularity of the mix suggests, Star-Lord’s mother was no amateur when it came to mixtape sequencing and aesthetic consistency—qualities any mixtaper worth her weight in underappreciated B-sides would go to the mat for. But the new additions don’t fit. Every other song on the mix is a hit from the ’70s, while “I Want You Back” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” were released in the ’60s. Their inclusion ruins the thematic purity of a mix clearly crafted by Peter Quill’s poor, dying mother for her son. How dare you, Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)? These additions dishonor the memory of Quill’s mother, misrepresent one of her last gifts to her son, and insult her skills as a mixtaper.

Also, they definitely should have released this as an actual tape. Cassettes are totally hip again.

Chris Wade is a video and podcast producer for Slate and occasional contributor to Brow Beat. Follow him on Twitter.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.