If you've never heard of Watchmen, this is the last second of your life to wallow in ignorance. For 25 years, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' genre-shattering graphic novel has been a cherished cult, but now it's about to go stratospheric with the release of Zack Synder's lavish Hollywood movie adaptation.
More than most superhero flicks, this one's being sold with a carefully cherry-picked soundtrack album. My Chemical Romance frontman (and published comic book author) Gerard Way - who claims "Watchmen changed my life" - gives the soundtrack a spunky relevance to today, and there's an admirably eclectic mix of music. Check this as a soundtrack line-up…
1. Desolation Row - My Chemical Romance
2. Unforgettable - Nat King Cole
3. The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan
7. You're My Thrill - Billie Holiday
9. Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
10. All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
11. Ride of the Valkyries - Budapest Symphony Orchestra
12. Pirate Jenny - Nina Simone
Each song has been sensitively chosen for it's ability to soundtrack a specific event in a film that shows superheroes through the ages, from the innocent '40s right through to the dark '80s. Film sites and comic blogs alike have been unanimous in their praise of the soundtrack's quality… but we here at MusicRadar feel they could have done even better.
So settle down, cue up your graphic novel and get your iTunes ready as MusicRadar gets in touch with its inner nerd and presents an alternate soundtrack to Watchmen. Careful, there be spoilers and great music ahead…
1. The Murder Mystery - The Velvet Underground
The movie opens with the death of Edward Blake, aka The Comedian, the kind of gruff, psychotic superhero that would make even Vinnie Jones' wanger schrivel in fear. The Velvets' psychotically bizarre closer to their third album, with its schitzo voices and ominous organ matches Watchmen's off-kilter noirisms and even 40 years on is still scarier than any slash-and-run pic.
2. Funeral Party - The Cure
When The Comedian is buried the Watchmen meet up together for the first time in years. The Cure's Funeral Party, from their 1981 album Faith, has the right cinematic sweep. "You performed your story noiselessly across the floor," Robert Smith, still thin and erring on the right side of of ridiculous, sings, "dancing at the funeral party."
3. Heroes - David Bowie
Laurie Juspeczyk, aka Silk Spectre, The Comedian's former squeeze, and Nite Owl (known to his ma and pa as Dan) don their superhero costumes again. "We could heroes," the rotten-toothed Duke sang back in 1977, "just for one day." Bowie's soaring romanticism is a perfect fit for this superheroic union.
4. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day - Robert Johnson
The Minutemen, as the Watchmen used to be, formed in the 1930s when superheroes ruled. Lauded and loved, they were the Posh and Becks of their day. Only in spandex. Soul-swapping bluesman Robert Johnson's If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day captures the sense of superheroic invincibility. And like Johnson, their day was about to end…
5. Life On Mars - David Bowie
Dispel those images of Sweeneyesque thugs in loafters beating the hell out of 70s crims. What better than David Bowie's 1973 classic off Hunky Dory for when Dr Manhattan pisses off to the red planet after being accused to being the cause of cancer on his colleagues. Well, wouldn't it give you the hump? And if you're going to flounce off anywhere, Mars is a way lot cooler than stomping off to the pub.
6. Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, is (SPOILER ALERT) nearly assassinated. But was it a real attempt or is something even more sinister going on? What about Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out? "If I wink, this can die, if I wane, this can die, I want you to take me out," sings a young Alex Kapranos in this breaththrough single from the band of Scots.
7. I Fought The Law - The Clash
We need a bit of outlaw punk spirit and what better than this cover of Bobby Fuller's desperado classic for when Rorschach finds himself under arrest for his no-consequences vigilantism? The inksplot-splattered superhero is arrested and subjected to intense interrogation, which is slightly luckier than the song's original singer, Bobby Fuller, who ended up murdered (if you believe the rumours).
8. Eve of Descruction - Barry McGuire
Name any distaster of the past 40 years, and Barry McGuire's croak-voiced hymn to peace has soundtracked it. So with chaos erupting in New York City and dead civilians lying the street, what's better? The song was written about the Vietnam War, a conflict whose echoes run deep deep in Watchmen. And importantly, the song was banned by most radio stations, a fact that would probably make an ageing rebel like Watchmen creator Alan Moore smile.
9. Def Con One - Pop Will Eat Itself
A shoe-in for the end-credits song, surely. The Poppies wore their love of comics on their snakebite and tabacco-splattered sleeves. A three-minute wallow in the dustpin of pop culture, they even namecheck Watchmen as a football chant (going on to namecheck Alan Moore in Can U Dig It?). Look Zeitgiest up in the dictionary and you'll find this song. Nothing sums up the mid-'80s and cold war paranoia better. Not even Boy George's The War Song.
Get MusicRadar news delivered straight to your inbox
The free MusicRadar newsletter serves up the week's biggest artist and product news stories alongside exclusive tuition and gear reviews. Sign up for the free weekly MusicRadar newsletter here.
Follow MusicRadar on Twitter for bonus updates