If you were to ask me which anime had the best soundtrack, I’d probably tell you Cowboy Bebop. It has the most unique and eclectic sound I’ve ever heard in an anime. So many genres are represented: rock, blues, even jazz, a genre I didn’t even know the Japanese knew about! And yet, it mixes very well. Heck, they even work in “Ave Maria”! So, I thought a great way to illustrate this would be to count down my favorite songs from both the series and the movie.
I think it’s time to blow this scene. Get everybody their stuff together. OK!
3, 2, 1–LET’S JAM!
10. “Pushing the Sky” (from the movie)
This is the song that plays for a good portion of the movie’s finale. It has a great rocking riff at the beginning and it just has a great fast pace. It’s the kind of song you play air guitar to.
9. “Too Good Too Bad” (Session 4. “Gateway Shuffle”)
One of several jazz tracks, this is the bouncy tune that plays while Spike and Faye try to stop the Sea Rats from unleashing a virus. The trumpets and percussion are really good here.
8. “The Real Folk Blues” (closing theme for most sessions, except Sessions 13 and 26)
I almost have to put the closing theme in here somewhere. I feel a great closing theme is one that seems to say “Thanks for watching, here’s something to remember the show by.” It’s a perfect closing song, and a really good blues song to boot. I’m honestly not someone who follows blues music, but I’ve heard some great blues songs and this is one of the best. In a way, I think it also foreshadows the climax.
7. “Cosmic Dare (Pretty With a Pistol)” (the movie)
This is the song that plays while Faye is tracking down Lee near the beginning of the movie. The song has a great beat that you just want to dance to. And the vocalist has a very sultry, sexy voice.
6. “Don’t Bother None” (Session 6. “Sympathy For the Devil”)
This is just pure, unfiltered blues. It has a nice slide guitar, a great harmonica throughout to accent things, and the singer–man she can sing! When I heard the whole thing, I knew it belonged in the countdown.
5. “Rain” (Session 5. “Ballad of Fallen Angels”)
I have a confession. When I first watched Cowboy Bebop, I wasn’t really digging it. The animation was smooth, but I really felt the story was too episodic. Then came the fifth episode, introducing the main villain, Vicious (I mean, even the name tells you he’s bad news!) When I saw the first fight between Spike and Vicious in that church, I thought “All right, I’m sold! I’m going to buy this anime!” This song was what made me enjoy the whole episode. It captures the angst of the whole story.
4. “Ask DNA” (opening theme for the movie)
When I first heard the movie’s opening, I just wanted to get up and dance. You can’t just sit there and listen to it, you have to move to it. The beat is nice, (particularly the keyboards) and I love the guitar and horns. It makes you think it’s going to be a happy story. And then the movie starts up and you realize it’s not a happy story. I love how the song teases you.
3. “Call Me, Call Me” (Session 24. “Hard Luck Woman”)
When I got to episode 24, I could feel the end coming. Ed had been reunited with her father; Faye finally rediscovered her past. It looked like we’d be right where we started, with just Spike and Jet. I always felt Faye and Ed really brightened the mood. I mean, yeah, Spike’s awesome, but Faye and Ed are just so funny! “Call Me, Call Me” is the perfect farewell song.
2. “Tank” (opening theme for most sessions, except 13 and 26)
Oh come on! Did you really think I’d leave out one of the most awesome opening numbers? When I first heard this opening, I was really blown away. It was nothing like the openings for any of the other anime I watched, and it still isn’t. Oh sure, there’s some anime that have tried to imitate this song, like Gadguard, but they don’t hold a candle. The moment you hear the dude say “3, 2, 1, Let’s jam!” you know you’re in for something awesome.
1. “Gotta Knock a Little Harder” (closing theme for the movie)
“Gotta Knock a Little Harder” serves the same purpose as “The Real Folk Blues”–a great blues song to thank you for coming. I think it actually does a better job than “The Real Folk Blues”, and not because I can actually understand the lyrics (although that does help) To me, the song is about Spike himself. He kept all his emotions bottled up and refused to let anyone in, even the enigmatic Julia. He practically welcomes death in Session 20 (he says, “Maybe this is the one. The one I won’t come back from. Then he laughs and says to Faye “I’m just kidding. Would you come rescue me?”). That’s Spike in a nutshell. He’s seen it all, and just accepts life for what it is–whatever happens, happens. Spike is the true hero of the story, and an awesome one, too. That’s why it’s the best song.