20 Years Later: Remembering the Surprisingly Hip "Batman Forever" Soundtrack

"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," U2

The soundtrack starts with "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2. It was a fairly big hit at the time, and in '90s soundtrack tradition, doesn't have much to do with the movie -- it was originally written for the 1993 "Zooropa" album. The video (directed by Kevin Godley and Maurice Linnane), though, had a lot to do with Batman, featuring not only clips from the film but also animated versions of Bono's puzzling mid-'90s alter egos, "The Fly" and "Mr. MacPhisto," cavorting in Gotham City. The song is pretty good and it's hard to imagine any combination of notes sounding more authentically "1995."

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: Bono has been quoted as saying the song's about "being in a rock band" and "being a star." Who's a bigger star than Batman? And in "Batman Forever," Val Kilmer's Bats forms a partnership with Chris O'Donnell's Robin, a close collaboration not unlike the one shared by Bono and The Edge.

"One Time Too Many," PJ Harvey

Things change course pretty sharply with the second track of the album. Starkly minimalist compared to the bombast of the opening number, "One Time Too Many" wouldn't feel out of place in the indie scene of today, even if it's harder-edged than what you'd expect from a movie with a character named "Gossip Gerty."

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: The English alt-rock icon sings, "He'd tease me one time too many," a clear reference to Bruce Wayne's growing frustration with the Riddler's devious trickery.

"Where Are You Now?", Brandy

Brandy's pre-"Moesha" teen pop career was in full bloom in the summer of 1995, just a few months after tunes like "I Wanna Be Down" made it big. "Where Are You Now?" isn't as memorable as Brandy's hits, but as the sole R&B song on the album, it accomplishes the soundtrack's goal of having no song sound remotely like the last.

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: The lyric "Where's this man I've come to know with the heart I thought was gold?" is almost definitely about district attorney Harvey Dent's tragic transition into the villainous Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones in bright purple makeup).

"Kiss from a Rose," Seal

This is the big one right here. Not only does "Kiss From a Rose" stand as Seal's biggest hit, it has transcended from a song on a soundtrack to a Batman movie to one of the greatest ballads of the 20th Century, despite somewhat ambiguous lyrics. ("I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the... grey? Grave?") It won three Grammys, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, has been covered numerous time, is a perennial karaoke favorite and was performed in a particularly memorable "Community" scene. And the fact that the video is filled with "Batman Forever" imagery that doesn't really match the content of the song in any way makes the whole experience that much richer. As the wonderful and unfortunately dormant website X-Entertainment put it: "Poor Seal. He stood there trying his damnedest to turn the song into our generation's hallmark ballad, and just when he gets the right mix of despair and lovesickness on his face... BAM, they cut to a shot of Tommy Lee Jones covered in cake icing, flipping coins."

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: Doesn't matter. This song rules. Well, it's about love and stuff and Bruce Wayne had a love interest, Nicole Kidman's character ("Chase Meridian," a character created specifically for the movie). So there you go.

"The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game," Massive Attack and Tracey Thorn

A Smokey Robinson cover by the preeminent trip hop group of the era and one-half of Everything but the Girl. This soundtrack is nuts.

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: Batman captures bad guys.

"The Riddler," Method Man

Not every song on this soundtrack has obvious ties to the content of "Batman Forever," but Method Man's contribution -- bringing some welcomed hip-hop to the affair -- stands apart from the pack. Not only does the title make the inspiration clear, the lyrics reference the Dark Knight, Gotham and the Batmobile.

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: It's called "The Riddler."

"8," Sunny Day Real Estate

Sunny Day Real Estate was one of the pioneering bands of the emo genre, and the producers of the "Batman Forever" soundtrack were apparently all over that blossoming scene. The band only released two albums before their initial breakup, and this song hit right in the middle.

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: Young Bruce Wayne is the original emo kid.

"Bad Days," The Flaming Lips

Who better to end things on an appropriately weird note than The Flaming Lips? Two years after mainstream breakthrough "She Don't Use Jelly," "Bad Day" closes the soundtrack with a four-and-a-half minute romp involving daydreaming about murdering your boss.

WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH THE MOVIE: This is pretty direct -- Edward Nygma had a boss, and he actually did kill him!

FINAL THOUGHT: It's only two years before the 20th anniversary of the "Batman & Robin" soundtrack.

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