Throughout High Fidelity, John Cusack—in proper John Cusack break-the-fourth-wall fashion—explores his Top 5 break-ups. In addition, he is a vinyl record store owner and music obsessor; him and his music-snob milieu debate and argue over the course of the film about the best songs and albums by classifying arbitrary Top 5 lists.
Top 5 Track Ones: “Janie Jones” by The Clash from The Clash; “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye from Let’s Get It On; “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana from Nevermind; “White Light/White Heat” by Velvet Underground from White Light/White Heat; “Radiation Ruling the Nation” by Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor offNo Protection
Wait! Wait! I know. I just reminded you of the best music-movie flick of our time, and now you are now desperately craving to see it. But just wait, damn it. Let’s talk about it first.
(John Cusack voice): If there ever were a film about blogging—that wasn’t really about blogging, but, in a way, presupposes the blogging movement—High Fidelity would at least be in or near the top of the list. (neurotically puffs cigarette).
(Normal reading voice): What makes High Fidelity the best music flick of our time? Great question. To be completely honest, I’m not sure. And before I go any further, there is something about favorite films and albums you just can’t qualify. High Fidelity has a strong essence of “damn” in this movie. What do I mean by “damn”? Like, Jack Black singing Let’s Get It On, or Todd Louiso hitting Tim Robbins in the face with a cash register. “Damn, that’s great.”
However, if I were forced to explore High Fidelity’s importance and sustainability, I would say it has something to do with the film being the truest representation of music-fandom ever made. Let’s be honest. It feels inherently good watching people passionately argue about music. No? Yes? Yes it does. That’s what being an avid music fan is all about!
We argue about our favorite bands and their best albums. We rank live-performances. We hate the new stuff. We make fun of each other. We make mixes for girls (or at least used to).
Last year, my friends and I made Top 10 Jimmy Eat World lists. Out of the three of us, there was only one song that we all shared. How crazy is that? I love it!
(For the record, my list was the best).
When I recently re-watched High Fidelity, I felt spoiled the whole time. And it wasn’t just the music debates and Top 5 lists either. High Fidelity literally has everything I want in a movie: good music; believable and flawed characters; archetypical hero journey of leaving, returning, and redemption; an honest love story; a weird, hippie Tim Robbins; a cursing Joan Cusack… I could go on.
And I finally decided: High Fidelity isn’t just the best music flick of all time, but the best flick of all time. PERIOD.
Disagree? Prove me wrong. I dare you.
My favorite scene/moment is near the end when Rob (Cusack) is on the phone with the journalist. She asks him THE question, the question we all want to know throughout the entire movie, the question we thought was lost due to the frantic nature of events and momentum of the plot, the film, as she asks, pauses and we hold our breath: “What are your Top 5 albums?”
And I absolutely love his response: “…” Well, I’ll let you watch it. It’s just great.