During the summer of 1998 I sat in a movie theater in Ocean City, NJ and watched what I thought was an amazing movie. I was twelve years old and everything about Godzilla seemed epic. It was not until about ten years later when I saw a rerun on television that I realized it was actually not a good movie. Two decades years later, the only enduring part of Godzilla is its soundtrack.
In defense of younger me, Godzilla had all the trappings of a summer blockbuster. Then-great special effects and constant action appealed to me. Apparently plot and acting were not being considered. The idea that Matthew Broderick was the “worm guy” who would save New York City did not strike me as being implausible.
In hindsight, I could not have been more wrong. Whoever enlisted the talent on the Godzilla soundtrack got it right.
Godzilla is one of a few movies from 1998 that incorporated a soundtrack that outlived the film itself. City of Angels saw the Goo Goo Dolls break out with the song “Iris.” Armageddon was the regretful home of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.”
Godzilla: The Album dropped on May 19, 1998. The record spent 26 weeks on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, cresting at the number two slot on June 13. The album was certified platinum just one month after its release.
The score of Godzilla was composed by David Arnold, who has also provided music for five James Bond movies, Independence Day, and the television series Sherlock. Two pieces from Arnold are included on the soundtrack.
Four singles were also a part of the record, including an unlikely pairing of music superstars.
Who Performed On The Godzilla Soundtrack
There is a definitively-90’s group of artists on Godzilla: The Album. None were more random than the duo of Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page. The rapper and Led Zeppelin member combined on the single “Come With Me.”
The crossover hit drew from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and featured Sean Combs on vocals. Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morrello also played bass and guitar on “Come With Me.” The single spent 20 weeks on the U.S. chart and peaked at number four.
Foo Fighters, Ben Folds Five, The Wallflowers, Rage Against The Machine, and Jamiorquai are the most notable artists who contributed songs to the Godzilla soundtrack. Green Day remixed “Brain Stew” for the LP. Michael Penn, Fuel, Silverchair, Fuzzbubble, and Joey Deluxe also added songs to Godzilla: The Album.
Jamiorquai’s “Deeper Underground,” The Wallflowers’ “Hero,” and Rage Against The Machine’s “No Shelter” were released as singles.
The Foo Fighters, who had only dropped two albums at this early point in their career, granted “A320” to the soundtrack. The band has since gone on to become the biggest arena rock act of its generation. Tom Petty’s longtime keyboard player Benmont Tench played on the song with Foo Fighters.
My own favorite from the album is The Wallflowers’ “Hero.” The song was part of a big year for The Wallflowers, who had snagged two Grammys in 1998.
As iconic as David Bowie’s song is, I love The Wallflowers’ version more than his original. I know that is music sacrilege, but the band’s spin on the arrangement and Jakob Dylan’s vocals give the classic song a more uptempo feel while being faithful to Bowie and their own style.
Twenty Years Of Godzilla: The Album
Twenty years after watching Godzilla in a boardwalk movie theater I can recognize that twelve-year-old me was easily swayed by summer blockbusters.
As I look back on the film itself I know that Godzilla does not hold up. The special effects were good for the time, but pale in comparison to the CGI of other movies of the decade. When contrasting the lizards of Godzilla with the lizards of Jurassic Park, Spielberg’s effects are the clear winner. Spielberg also developed a story and characters that remain compelling.
I can be grateful that a mediocre movie financed a great soundtrack. Godzilla: The Album provides a snapshot of the era and a memorable throwback to the summer of 1998.
This is the sixth post in a recurring series from the Flat Circle. Every Monday the Flat Circle will feature a new song, deep cut, or live track from my personal collection or travels on the Internet. The complete series can be found under the “Music” tab at the top of the page. For last week’s post on Lucy Pearl, click here.