When Twentieth Century Fox released the first trailer to X-Men: Days of Future Past, I was excited to get a glimpse at this anticipated sequel. The storyline has the franchise's key character, Wolverine ( Hugh Jackman ), traveling back to the '70s in an attempt to prevent a murder that leads to a horrific future, where his fellow mutants are hunted down. I was so moved that I decided to create a playlist inspired by the upcoming blockbuster.
Some of the music's themes are despair, hope, time travel and heroes. I wanted to stray from obvious choices like Madonna's "Bedtime Story," Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero ( Thunderdome )," Mariah Carey's "Hero" and The Rocky Horror Picture Show's "Time Warp." The next step was narrowing down the collection to under 20 songs.
The playlist kicks off with fiery rock anthems from Canadian artists. "Positronic" by The Pack A.D. salutes science-fiction icon Isaac Asimov and paints an image of the Sentinels, which are huge man-made machines used to hunt down mutants and protect humans in the X-Men universe. Jane Child is best remembered for her pop-funk hit "Don't Wanna Fall in Love." Here, I am including her guitar-heavy "Step out of Time" from her sophomore effort, Here Not There.
Vanessa Daou sings coolly on the dramatic "Manifesto," which has an absolutely marvelous version on her compilation Speak/Easy: The Moonshine Mixes ( Joe Sent Me Revisited ). The piece climaxes intensely, as her digitally enhanced voice proclaims, "Only I can save you." This captures how Wolverine solely is trusted by the leader Charles Xavier ( Patrick Stewart ) and his unlikely ally, Magneto ( Ian McKellen ), to accomplish this mission.
In the 1995 film The Passion of Darkly Noon, PJ Harvey contributes "Who Will Love Me Now." British dance outfit Sunscreem has reworked this song as "Please Save Me" with remixes by Push. The remake's opening verse closes with the plea, "Please save me, please rescue me." Benny Benassi's "Love Is Gonna Save Us" has a comparable trance music vibe, but contains a glimmer of hope underneath robotic vocals, ultimately sounding spectacular next to "Please Save Me."
Nero's "Into the Past" can be found on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. This centerpiece of my playlist has ethereal vocals over synthesizers cooing, "Fade into the past, where I'll follow you."
Acclaimed independent artist Imani Coppola closes 2012's The Glass Wall with "The Future." There are elements of dubsteb here, but she sheds the overproduction during the chorus, as she chimes, "The future ain't what it used to be." This message is ideal for a time traveler visiting his counterparts in yesteryear.
In the trailer, Xavier instructs Wolverine, "Lead me, guide me, be patient with me." Ghostland's otherworldly "Guide Me God" finds Sinead O'Connor similarly seeking help as she repeats, "Guide me God and I will find you," while Natacha Atlas provides divine supporting vocals. The best remix of "Guide Me God" can be found on Junior Vasquez's compilation Earth Music.
When I read Alice Sebold's Lovely Bones, I kept thinking that "Coming up for Air," by LHB featuring Imogen Heap, was inspired by this best-seller. It is a dark, harsh turn for the electronic artist. This matches the climate of the future shown in the X-Men teaser. Even the notion of hidingas the mutants will have to dois suggested, as Heap sings, "Deep underground, somewhere beneath that green field."
British actor Steven Berkoff delivers a spoken-word cameo on N-Trance's "Mind of the Machine," trying to echo Vincent Price's iconic part on Michael Jackson's "Thriller." The song itself has a bleak outlook with androids having authority, just like in Days of Future Past.
Groove Armada has two offerings on this playlist: "Time and Space" and "Hands of Time." The titles alone fit the theme. The former is an uptempo number that picks up with its crescendos. The latter is an underrated, soulful ode with the lyrics, "Seems to me, can't turn back the hands of time."
When Wolverine returns to the '70s, he has to remember his purpose and track down younger versions of the mutants. This recalls Pet Shop Boys' "Memory of the Future" and Moby's "Hope Is Gone." Moby's somber piece has the opening lines, "You look like the man I knew once or twice." This summarizes the clawed hero meeting his allies and rivals in the past. The chorus on "Hope Is Gone" mirrors the gravity in Storm's ( Halle Berry ) eyes in the troubling times to come.
I am fond of Moby's latest, Innocents. "Almost Home" suits a wounded hero's journey after a battle. In the same vein, I am including Boy George's recent collaboration with Dharma Protocol, "Coming Home." The female backup singer adds a superb effect to this gem.
Amanda Ghost, the Culture Club frontman's former protege, appears twice on my mix. Her extraordinary drum 'n' bass pairing with Dark Globe, "Break My World," has a morose mood. Her bittersweet B-side "Time Machine" desperately wants to revisit better days.
My playlist concludes with "Everybody Needs a Hero" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. This track is very pop next to the grittier numbers on the album Unvarnished. Here, the legendary rocker whispers, "Life and death, the change to rearrange" at the very end. This serves as a cliffhanger to the pending sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse.
Bryan Singer returns to direct this installment, having previously helmed the first two X-Men films in the successful franchise. The out director recently tweeted that X-Men: Apocalypse is slated for 2016 release.
Throughout the X-Men movies, there have been multiple metaphors used to compare being a mutant and being LGBT. In X2, a parent asks, "Have you ever tried not being a mutant?" and in its sequel a cure without lasting effects gets produced.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is based on the Marvel comic book's 1981 storyline and has been redone in the brand's cartoon. Both the TV show and the film version take liberties with the original. The outstanding cast reprising its roles includes Jackman, Stewart, McKellen and Michael Fassbender, as well as Oscar winners Berry and Jennifer Lawrence. X-Men: Days of Future Past opens on May 23, 2014.