A soundtrack is essential to any movie, music is used in various ways by a director – to portray emotion, create and introduce relationships and to also make references to the time period. In Clueless music is mostly used to highlight the major motifs in the movie and reflect the attitudes of the teenage characters.
The movie begins with the song “Kids in America” in which we see Cher and her friends and other teenagers shopping and partying. Straight away this highlights the main focus of the film – upper class teenage lives. The song is significant as it highlights exactly what the characters are – Kids living in Beverly Hills, America. “Kind hearts don’t make a new story. Kind hearts don’t grab any glory.” These lines of the song are relevant to the movie because the majority of the characters are not presented as kind. This song is important as it reflects the attitudes of the characters; They are illustrated as spoilt and selfish who aren’t interested in doing anything unless it involves personal gain. When Cher asks Dionne “wouldn’t you like to use your popularity for a good cause” she replies simply and selfishly “no”.
Then the music changes as the audience gets to see Cher in her bedroom the song that is played in the background is “Fashion” by David Bowie. This illustrates another key aspect of the movie – shopping and fashion. This is significant as it shows what is important to Cher’s character. As the song plays Cher is on her computer looking for an outfit to wear for school. Bowie was known for his extreme outfits which were often over the top, this is similar to Cher and Dionne who wear some interesting ensembles – “shopping with Dr Suess?” Cher asks Dionne because of her hat, to which Dionne replies “well at least I wouldn’t skin a collie to make my backpack.”
Another song that has significance in the movie is “Supermodel” by Jill Sobule, the lyrics highlight everything the girls want and do throughout the movie. It is used when Dionne and Cher give Tai a makeover however the lyrics are relevant throughout. “I don’t care what my teachers say I’m gonna be a supermodel… and everyone is gonna wanna look like me.” The teenagers in the movie rarely care about what their teachers tell them or teach them. Cher has a desire to become “5ft 10 like Cindy Crawford” this shows the desire to be a “supermodel.” Also, everyone in the school looks up to Cher including Amber despite her protests she often copies what Cher wears. As previously mentioned the song is played when the girls give Tai a makeover this is significant because it shows what they view important. They believe Tai is “clueless” because of the clothes she wears and that they should make her look like them. This then goes on to show the prejudice of the characters in the film, before her makeover no one ever noticed Tai except Travis, who she originally likes but is talked out of liking. However after her makeover all the boys kept trying to talk to her and look at her constantly.”I didn’t eat yesterday, I’m not gonna eat today” although Cher is not as extreme these lyrics relate to her obsessions with food, she constantly stops her father eating junk and is concerned at herself for eating small things such as “3 M&M’s.”
“Rollin with my homies” is a running motif in the movie and the song is mentioned throughout. The first time the song is played is when Cher, Dionne and Tai go to a party in the valleys, the teenagers are all dancing to it. The song is by a popular artist of the 90’s – Coolio showing what teenagers listened to at the time. However, this song is used for more than one purpose. Tai has a crush on Elton and when she is nearly knocked out he gets her to repeat “rollin with my homies” thus always reminding her of him. When Tai finds out that Elton tried it on with Cher and isn’t interested in her she is heartbroken. Next the song is played when the 3 friends go out to a restaurant, this causes Tai to get upset and start making a scene about the song. This highlights how dramatic the characters in the film are about minor issues they face such as their crush liking someone else. Finally, Tai takes a box of stuff to Cher’s house to burn so she can forget Elton, in the box there is a cassette of the song “rollin with my homies” which signifies that Tai is over Elton and is ready to move on because she wants to burn the cassette.
Overall the soundtrack in Clueless plays a massive part in the movie. Songs are well picked with lyrics that apply to the characters in the movie, they highlight their characteristics and open the movie with a view of what the main themes will be. The main importance of music in Clueless is to give the audience another view on the teenagers emotions. The background songs reveals traits about the character before they actually show them. The music is also important in illustrating the major themes – fashion, desire to be perfect and the life of a teenager in the 90’s.