The 2004 comedy, Napoleon Dynamite, starred Jon Heder in the title character role, portraying a nerdy high school student that has to contend with a series of dilemmas. His friendship with an immigrant wanting to become class president, plus his desire to pursue a romance with a fellow student, as well as living with a quirky family all seems to make Dynamite’s character come across as awkward. Napoleon Dynamite was acquired at the Sundance Film Festival early 2004 and reflected upon the real-life story of its writer, Jared Hess. From the tight budget of $400,000 USD, the film grossed over $46 million USD worldwide and has since developed a loyal cult following. Unknown to the writing team of Jared and Jerusha Hess, the title of the movie was the same from a song that was featured in Elvis Costello’s 1986 album, Blood & Chocolate. It wasn’t until two days before the end of the shooting of the movie did they learn of it, and it was through a teenage extra that made the comment. According to Hess, the name of Napoleon Dynamite was inspired by a man he met in the year 2000 in the state of Illinois while doing missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2004, then released in theatres on June 11, 2004. As for the Napoleon Dynamite original soundtrack, it was released on October 5, 2004 by Lakeshore Records. There are a total of forty-two tracks on the original soundtrack.
Awards & Accolades
Napoleon Dynamite won Best Feature Film at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in 2004, as well as Best Feature by the Film Discovery Jury Award. In 2005, won three MTV Movie Awards, namely for Breakthrough Male Performance, Best Musical Performance, and Best Movie. It also won Best Comedy with the Golden Trailer Awards, Best Original Score with the Golden Satellite Award, and best Teen Choice Award for Female Breakout Star for Haylie Duff, as well as Choice Movie Hissy Fit for Jon Heder and Choice Comedy Movie. Also in 2005, the Idaho Legislature approved a resoultion commending the filmmakers for the production of Napoleon Dynamite for enumerating the benefits the movie ha brought to Idaho, namely in the state’s culture and economy. Aside from the instrumental scores composed by John Swihart, there are twelve songs in particular that were either track originals as they were released by other artists, or cover song versions.
11. Sometimes You Gotta Make It Alone (performed by Money Mark)
From Money Mark’s 1995 album, (Mark’s Keyboard Repair), (Sometimes You Gotta Make It Alone) was featured on the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack with its independent, synth-heavy sound.
10. Design (performed by Fiction Company)
(Design) was a song performed by a New York-based band known as Fiction Company. Their musical background had them primarily work with different soundtrack recordings, including Napoleon Dynamite. The blend of different music influences gave Fiction Company’s its own unique style as a low-key, low-profile duo that managed to establish themselves as local favorites, as well as soundtrack contributors.
9. Every Moment (live) (performed by Rogue Wave)
Rogue Wave’s debut album, (Out of the Shadow) featured the lead song, (Every Moment), which has a live performance version of it on the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack. Rogue Wave was an independent rock band that dabbled in various rock-related genres that has since undergone a series of lineup changes since its 2003 debut.
8. New Mate (performed by Figurine)
The electronica group, Figurine, are best known for telling whimsical love stories through the use of technology, bringing forth moderna-style sounds to their lyrical and musical recordings. (New Mate) fit the nerdy theme of Napoleon Soundtrack, which is also featured on Figurine’s 2002 studio album, (Reconfigure).
7. I Want Candy (performed by Bow Wow Wow)
The original (I Want Candy) was recorded by the Strangeloves in 1965 that peaked as high as number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100. Bow Wow Wow’s new wave pop version came from their extended play, (The Last of the Mohicans), in 1982. Their cover of this single peaked at number sixty-two on the same billboard chart and was a number thirty-six hit on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. Their version was most popular in Ireland at number seven and in the UK at number nine.
6. The Promise (performed by When in Rome)
British group, When in Rome, debuted in 1987 with its hit single (The Promise), which became their biggest commercial hit in their career. It peaked as high as number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100 and a number one hit on the US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart. It was the final track on the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack, seeming to serve as a lyrical vow to be a good friend despite personal flaws that simply makes what each of us are as human beings.
5. Time After Time (performed by Sparklemotion)
Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit single, (Time After Time), was covered by Sparklemotion for the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack in 2004. Among Lauper music fans, it is among their favorite hits from the star, which earned a series of music awards, certifications, and critical acclaim. (Time After Time) became one of Cyndi Lauper’s signature songs.
4. Solamente una vez (performed by Trio Los Ponchos)
In English, (Solamente una vez) means “You Belong to My Heart.” The song’s composition was originally designed by Mexican songwriter, Agustin Lara, then performed by singer Ana Maria Gonzalez and tenor Jose Mojica for the 1941 film, Melodias de America. This became a very popular song among the nations of Cuba and Mexico, and has been recorded by many of the greatest Bolero interpreters, including Trio Los Ponchos.
3. Only You (performed by Yazoo)
(Only You) was the debut single put forth in 1982 by the British synth-pop duo, Yazoo. It quickly became a number two hit on the UK Singles Chart, as well as making a solid impression on the North American audience by peaking at number thirty-eight on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and at number sixty-seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. A remix of this appeared on the music charts again in 1999, this time reaching as high as number sixteen on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club chart. With the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), (Only You) became certified gold. On the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack, it is the original version that’s recorded on it.
2. Forever Young (performed by Alphaville)
The German synth-pop group, Alphaville, brought forth a 1984 single, (Forever Young), from their self-titled debut album. Among many of the European nations, it was a hit single that reached as high as number one in Sweden, at number three in Norway and Switzerland, as high as number four in Germany, and at number seven in South Africa. On the UK Singles Chart, it was a number ninety-eight hit while on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music Club Play chart it peaked at number thirty-two. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it charted at number sixty-five. (Forever Young) also earned gold certifications from the music industries belonging to Denmark, Germany, and Italy. In the UK, it earned silver certification.
1. Canned Heat (performed by Jamiroquai)
The British funk and acide jazz band, Jamiroquai produced the single, (Canned Heat) from their fourth studio album, (Synkronized), in 1999. It was the group’s second number one single on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, a number four hit on the UK Singles Chart, and at least a top twenty hit among the nations of Austria, Canada, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland. This was the infamous song that was used in the epic scene of Napoleon Dynamite when the title character showed off his dance moves in front of the high school assembly.