Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

We Watch it for the Music | The Way, Way Back


I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and this indie hit definitely doesn’t disappoint – musically or otherwise. The soundtrack is probably my favorite since Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron came out (I mean, Bryan Adams is a genius, after all). It features tracks from the likes of Edie Brickell, Robert Palmer, and Trampled by Turtles.

The Way, Way Back follows 15-year-old Duncan as he’s forced to spend a summer with his mom and her absolutely terrible boyfriend, played by Steve Carell. True to form, audiences watch as Duncan breaks out of his shell after befriending Owen, the manager of a nearby water park called Water Wizz. Accompanying Duncan’s adventures in fitting in and falling in summer love is the dazzling soundtrack.

What would a movie be without music to punctuate the really important moments? Or, rather, how would we know when those moments were happening if it weren’t for the music? Here are three tracks that drive home some excellent plot points and definitely make me tap my feet.

For the Time Being | Edie Brickell

Songs that play over opening scenes are clearly important, right? Well, the first glimpse we get of the main character is pretty awful. Trent (Carell) asks Duncan what “number” he thinks he is (on the hotness scale) then proceeds to steamroll over Duncan’s voice to say he’s nothing more than a three. Are people actually that mean?

Like the rest of us, Duncan shoves in his earbuds and tries to lull away the pain with music. The uplifting tone of Brickell’s lyrics despite the subjects’ depression and disillusionment with life perfectly mirrors Duncan’s lack of excitement for his summer.

Lyrics to listen for:

“I need professional help if it does get any worse than this,

I’ll be out on a ledge if it does get any worse than this.

I’m doing alright for the time

Fine for the time being.”

New Sensation | INXS

At this point in the movie, the audience has followed Duncan through his initial transition from total recluse to, well, a new sensation. He finds a water park near his vacation house, befriends the manager, Owen, gets a job as a pool boy, and he finally starts to feel like he fits in somewhere. When the INXS track plays, Duncan actually seems happy for the first time. He’s earned a nickname, friends, and a purpose, even if things at home are anything but peachy. It’s a total turning point for the movie and soundtrack.

Lyrics to listen for:

“I got a new sensation

In perfect moment,

Impossible to refuse.”

Power Hungry Animals | The Apache Relay

S**t has really hit the fan at home for Duncan and his mom (no spoilers here) and the family is leaving vacation early much to Duncan’s dismay. They stop for gas before the long drive and Duncan essentially says, “Screw it, I’m not leaving without saying goodbye to my park.” This track’s slow buildup mirrors the movie’s resolution as Duncan runs to Water Wizz for one last hurrah. (It totally reflects Trent’s terribleness – can you say “power hungry?”)

Lyrics to listen for:

“Everybody’s tellin’ me what to do, and I, I can’t choose.

And everybody wants control, to hang me up by their noose.

But if they only knew they’d laugh and dance like fools.

If they only knew souls cannot be fooled.”

The best line of the movie doesn’t come from a song, though. Owen, the immature water park manager says, “Don’t die wondering,” and that pretty much becomes Duncan’s motto. After watching this very honest movie, I feel like it could become mine, too.


What soundtrack should we highlight next week? Comment here or send suggestions to @WDBM!

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