It’s 2004 – your music taste has been defined by whatever HitClips you got from your McDonald’s Happy Meal, and you stay up late every night watching lo-res versions of your favorite cartoons on your JuiceBox Personal Media Player. You’ve already seen the first Shrek at this point, obviously, but you aren’t yet aware of the lasting legacy it will leave on your life. That’s okay because in May of 2004, Shrek 2 is released, you will see it, and fall in love with the green Ogre and his soundtrack once again. The movie won’t come out for your JuiceBox, you won’t get its soundtrack on HitClips, but the image of that Ogre will be ingrained in your mind for the rest of your life. The first Shrek had an absolutely amazing soundtrack, and Shrek 2 continues that legacy. Here’s why:
“Accidentally In Love” – Counting Crows
Remember how the whole plot of Shrek was an Ogre who thought he was an ugly beast then found his inner beauty when accidentally placed on a journey with a princess, and then she fell in love with him? How they accidentally fell in love? Could there be a more perfect song to reintroduce the audience to that story than “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows? Of course not.
The song plays over a sequence of Shrek and Fiona on their honeymoon, enjoying their newlywed lifestyle. They do everything ogre couples should do together – shave their faces, scare Little Red Riding Hood, and throw Ariel from the Little Mermaid into the ocean to be eaten by a school of sharks. Y’know – just normal couple things. This fairy-tale hodgepodge musical montage is just the tip of the iceberg of the wonderful music heard in the Extended Shrek Universe (here on out referred to as the Shrekverse).
“Funkytown” – Lipps Inc.
Far, far away from the lowly lands of Shrek’s Swamp there is Princess Fiona’s hometown, a great land of fame and fortune; the kingdom of Far Far Away. Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey travel to the kingdom at the beginning of the film to attend a royal ball held by Fiona’s parents. As the trio rolls into The land of Far Far Away, a place full of glitz and glamour unrivaled by anywhere else in the Shrekverse what better song to soundtrack their culture shock than “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc.
Theme from Rawhide (uncredited)
While it’s not on the soundtrack itself, I think it’s very important to note that on their journey to Far Far Away, Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) covers the Rawhide theme. While not as convincing of a performance as Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, it’s a fun little tune and it adds to the world-building of the Shrekverse.
“I Need Some Sleep” – Eels
Remember back in Shrek when we all got really sad while listening to “Hallelujah”? Yeah, the same thing happens again with Eels’ “I Need Some Sleep.” Shrek lays restless in Fiona’s childhood bed while the song sets a somber mood. His in-laws do not approve of him, he is not the Prince Charming that the prophecy predicted; Fiona’s room is decorated with a dreamy poster of Sir Justin (Far Far Away’s Justin Timberlake), and as Shrek reads through her childhood diary, he discovers that all she wanted her whole life was to be whisked away by a knight in shining armor to become “Mrs. Fiona Charming,” rather than wife to an Ogre. Shrek cannot sleep from the current turmoil in his life, and it’s perfectly portrayed with “I Need Some Sleep” by Eels.
“Ever Fallen in Love” – Pete Yorn
Have YOU ever fallen in love (perhaps with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with)? Well, our hero Shrek sure has. Shrek is in love with Princess Fiona; he’s worried he’s not good enough for her, but he is determined to win her over. Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots infiltrate Fairy Godmother’s Potion Factory in order to steal a “Happily Forever After Potion” to restore Fiona’s love in Shrek. They are caught in the act and make their escape with the help of Pete Yorn’s cover of “Ever Fallen in Love” by Buzzcocks.
“Changes” – David Bowie & Butterfly Boucher
A key part of Shrek 2’s plot is the Fairy Godmother giving Shrek and Donkey a potion that turns them from unsightly uggos to handsome hunky huns. While “Changes” by David Bowie is a song about a man changing with the passage of time, it still works for a man changing appearance through the use of magic. If you think about the lyrics saying “Happily Ever After Potion” instead of “time,” you can very clearly see why the DreamWorks staff chose this song over all the other songs about changing.
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes There’s gonna have to be a different man Happily Ever After Potion may change me But I can’t trace Happily Ever After Potion”
While the transformation of Shrek leads to Princess Fiona believing Prince Charming to be the real Shrek, causing major turmoil for our ogre hero, but it nonetheless makes a great film sequence.
“Little Drop of Poison” – Tom Waits
Tom Waits kinda sounds like a monster and that just makes the whole movie a little spookier.
“People Ain’t No Good” – Nick Cave
The Shrek trilogy shines best in its most somber moments, and Shrek is at his lowest point of the film when he is rejected by Princess Fiona, because she has been led to believe that Prince Charming is the real Shrek. His next moments after his rough betrayal is soundtracked by “People Ain’t No Good” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Shrek is fed up with his life, he’s beautiful now, but he has no wife. Prince Charming has stolen his love, an act that most people would say would characterize you as being “ain’t no good.”
“Holding Out for a Hero” – Frou Frou
The Royal Ball is happening – Shrek and Donkey are locked away in jail by the evil Fairy Godmother, while Fiona walks down to the dance floor with Prince Charming, who she has been led to believe is Shrek. Fairy Godmother approaches the stage, changes into a sparkling red dress, and dedicates her next song to Princess Fiona and Prince Shrek (who at this point is really Prince Charming but only Fairy Godmother knows that). The Fairy Godmother sings “Holding Out for a Hero” and dedicates it to Princess Fiona and ‘Prince Shrek’ as if her son was the hero that Fiona had been holding out for. Luckily, Shrek and Donkey are able to escape prison with the help from their fairytale friends, and they head to the Royal Ball on the back of their giant gingerbread man, Mungo (not really important to the article but I think Mungo is a cool guy). Our heroes storm the castle and make their way into the ball just as Prince Charming is about to lay a kiss on Fiona, but in reality, this was really her waiting out for her true hero all along.
“Livin’ La Vida Loca” – Antonio Banderas and Eddie Murphy
In a performance that could be billed as Antonio Banderas and Eddie Murphy: Live at the Hollywood Bowl!, the dynamic duo of Donkey and Puss band together to end the film in a stunning, family-friendly performance. Shrek and Fiona are back to their ole Ogre selves, and we get stunning reprisals from fairy-tale friends like the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs. It takes a rather morbid turn when Shrek stage-dives, landing on a puppy, presumably killing it, but even with all of that it still turns out to be a fun, dance-driven scene that rolls right into the credits.
Shrek do be livin’ la Vida Loca.