Like many of Wes Anderson’s other films, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou features an all-star cast including Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, and Jeff Goldblum. The movie follows the titular character, played by Bill Murray who is determined to find the shark responsible for the death of his partner. According to Lemon Wire, there were additional songs performed by Seu Jorge including several more covers of David Bowie songs. However, that was an album released separately from the original soundtrack; The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge. Like many other directors, Anderson is extremely selective about the music he chooses. For The Life Aquatic Soundtrack, he chose songs from the British Explosion and 70s punk. Fans of his work will also notice he chose songs from different decades than his previous work. This is a ranking of all the songs from The Life Aquatic Soundtrack.
20. La Nina de Puerta Oscura – Paco de Lucia
This song plays when Zissou and crew must be hauled in by Hennessey. Worse, after the rescue, he has to go to Elenore to ask for money.
19. 30 Century Man – Scott Walker
This song fits well into the soundtrack because for a minute and a half it’s simply stringing together nonsensical lyrics. Throughout the song, you’ll hear Walker crooning about dwarves and giants.
18. Rock n’ Roll Suicide – Seu Jorge
Like many other transitions in the film, Seu Jorge on guitar is the way the film chose to transition into the crew starting their mission on the Belafonte submarine. Elenore decides to leave the island after Ned almost drowns despite Steve desperately trying to stop her.
17. Ping Island/Lightning Strikes – Mark Mothersbaugh
This song captures the dreaminess as well as the quirkiness of the entire movie. Additionally, it lent some much-needed energy to the plot.
16. We Call Them Pirates Out Here – Mark Mothersbaugh
For this song, Mothersbaugh channels a beat that sounds similar to techno. It plays when the group is running away from the safety of the hotel on the island.
15. Zissou Society Blue Star Cadets/Ned’s Theme – Mark Mothersbaugh
This was one of the more confusing songs on the soundtrack, somehow sounding out of place. However, as with many other choices that Anderson makes on his movie soundtracks, this song just works despite sounding like it potentially belongs in another movie.
14. Rebel Rebel – Seu Jorge
Let’s face it, the main character in the movie is not exactly uplifting. So any breaks in his moroseness are greatly needed. If you’re watching the movie, you’ll hear this song when Zissou and his son Ned are talking and the former asks him to go stay with him on his private island. Seu Jorge is sitting in one of the lighthouses playing this song when he pair flies in. Much like other songs in the soundtrack, it contrasts nicely with Steve Zissou’s overall demeanor.
13. Five Years – Seu Jorge
Jorge took Bowie’s original version and translated them into Portuguese. Although many critics of the soundtrack questioned the rationale, his vision was well suited for an Anderson film.
12. Loquasto International Film Festival – Mark Mothersbaugh
As with other film contributions, Mothersbaugh stands out with his additions to the Life Aquatic Soundtrack. For this additional, he adds strong horns that add a lilting quality to the soundtrack.
11. The Way I Feel Inside – The Zombies
This song plays during another montage. Sadly, this is when Ned is dying shortly after the helicopter goes down.
10. Shark Attack Theme – Sven Libaek
This song sets the tone for the movie and is played when Zissou’s partner is killed. If you’re expecting a Jaws-type theme you’ll be disappointed. Instead, it sounds like something in a bluesy after-hours club.
9. Starman – Seu Jorge
This song plays during the scene when Ned decides to reveal who his mother is. His father Steve has just come back from the party when Ned tells him her name was Katherine Plimpton.
8. Here’s To You – Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez
This song was originally released on the Sacco and Vanzetti Soundtrack in 1971. Morricone wrote the song with Baez. During the 70s it was also universally known as a song for the human rights movement.
7. Let Me Tell You About My Boat – Mark Mothersbaugh
The movie could easily sink into a melancholy which might make moviegoers skip it. However, Anderson artfully sprinkles in some music pieces by Mothersbaugh to keep the movie on course and make it fun for audiences.
6. Life On Mars – Seu Jorge
One of the interesting things Seu Jorge did with his Bowie covers in the movie is to sing them in Portuguese. For this one, Jorge’s character, Pele is sitting in the recording studio while Ned is outside smoking on his pipe.
5. Open Sea Theme – Sven Libaek
Like Shark Attack, this song may seem out of place despite being perfectly placed for the overall cheesy effect Anderson is going for in the movie.
4. Queen Bitch – David Bowie
Several Bowie originals including this song appeared in the movie because, throughout the film, Seu Jorge performs covers of Bowie’s iconic tunes as transitions. This song was played at the end of the movie.
3. Search & Destroy – The Stooges
This song plays during the scene when Zissou’s submarine is taken over by pirates. It’s a standout scene because the song matches the mood of the scene. Zissou goes after and eradicates as many pirates as he can.
2. Life On Mars? – David Bowie
Another prominent character in the movie is Zissou’s son played by Owen Wilson. This is one of two variations on the soundtrack and is played during a montage scene after the pair meet.
1. Gut Feeling – Devo
Montage scenes are one of the best sources for story development and this song is one of the most well placed in the film. It plays during the scene when Zissou and his son are returning from the bank. Even though it’s not the happiest scene, the evolving bars of music keep it from devolving too deeply.