Various Artists

ESPN's Ultimate X: The Motion Picture Soundtrack

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Despite the awful title (you expect someone to grab you by the shoulders and shout "Extreme!" into your face when you hear it), this collection is actually the soundtrack to ESPN's first motion picture. The fact that it is essentially a very professionally shot extreme sports video is irrelevant; ESPN brought that into mainstream culture years before even MTV caught on. It is this sort of "we were there first" mentality that permeates this soundtrack, which is also what makes it somewhat effective. Old favorites like Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" and Tricky's "Christiansands" sit next to the new tracks from 3rd Strike and Grand Theft Auto with no issues, because that has been the format of the X-Games for years. There's Sugar Ray-style pop (OPM), there's respectable indie rock (Guided By Voices), there's crafty bubblegum-punk (Suicide Machines), there's aggressive Brit-pop ("Feeder"), there's trip-hop (Tricky), there's commercial techno (Moby), there's even a Black Sabbath cover (3rd Strike again). This mix of styles is the exact thing that ESPN has built their extreme sports coverage on, and to argue about the crass commercialism is to ignore the source of the album. Just thank whoever programmed this for adding a Tricky or a Guided By Voices where they could have easily plugged another bland 3rd Strike track. By recognizing the years of diverse music that the network has utilized for their shows, they have also managed to release a decent soundtrack that stands on its own quite nicely.

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