Twenty seven years on from the release of Ghostbusters II, a new entry to the franchise finally appears. While the most obvious change to the franchise comes in the form of an all-female cast, thirty years have led to a lot of other subtler changes; most notably, the popular styles of music of the time. Predictably, the Ghostbusters Original Motion Picture Soundtrack reads like a veritable who’s who of popular music for 2016: from One Direction’s ZAYN to 5 Seconds of Summer and Mark Ronson, many markets find themselves being targeted with the soundtrack alone, mixing the modern styles with some throwback twists to tie it into the franchise, to varying effect.
Unsurprisingly, the original Ghostbusters theme song finds a lot of representation here; Walk The Moon offer a faithful rendition of the original, and Mark Ronson’s collaboration with Passion Pit and A$AP Ferg creates an original track around heavy sampling of the original. Neither brings anything major to the table, with Walk The Moon’s feeling somewhat overdone and Ronson’s falling apart by the time it reaches Ferg’s rap verse—a similar fate that Fall Out Boy’s cover meets when it reaches Missy Elliot’s verse, which sounds out of place in a heavier rock track. Pentatonix’s a capella cover fares somewhat better, though, keeping some of the goofy humour of the track that everyone else seemed to lose in the mix.
The sampling of the theme song, however, does find some awkward use in other tracks, albeit less obviously; ZAYN’s wHo feels like nothing more than a regular R&B track with the “who you gonna call?” riff of the theme song thrown in for effect, and G-Eazy finds a similar issue on his collaboration with Jeremih, Saw It Coming, which feels largely out of place as an electronic R&B track that somewhat tries to tie itself to the movie.
Moments such as Elle King’s Good Girls and Wolf Alice’s Ghoster leave a much better impression, though, referencing the ghost hunting themes with subtlety that feels obvious enough to secure their place on the soundtrack, but not enough to break the allure of the song. Additionally, the 80s get their dues with the inclusion of DeBarge’s Rhythm of the Night, as well as Ray Parker Jr.’s original, memorable version of the theme song; while they both sound rather dated compared to the rest of the soundtrack, the sheer nostalgia more than makes up for it, especially when hearing the perfectly executed jingle of the original theme song compared to the modern takes.
When it comes to the Ghostbusters soundtrack, its main issue is clinging to the past a little too closely. Rather than trying to offer some semblance of a new identity to the movie almost thirty years since the original two, the songs all cling to the original theme song in a way that feels contrived, and detracts from the soundtrack as a whole. The few songs that don’t fall victim to this are much more enjoyable, however, and the inclusion of the original theme song is a blessing that at least ties the package off perfectly by paying homage to where it all began. It does have some moments that feel genuine, but there’s something missing from a lot of the tracks on the Ghostbusters soundtrack.