This week in Exploring Soundtracks, we’ll be looking at a film with style, grace, and only a few dick jokes. I’m talking, of course, about Tenacious D’s debut movie and accompanying album, “The Pick of Destiny”.
As you may have noticed, Tenacious D is currently working on their next project, an animated YouTube series called “Post-Apocalypto”. At the end of the series, the D are set to release a new album accompanying the series. So before then, we wanted to take a look at the last time Tenacious D took to the screen.
The Pick of Destiny
“Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny” follows two broke musicians, Jack Black and Kyle Gass, who play themselves, as they struggle to pay the rent. To do so, they start searching for the fabled Pick of Destiny, a supernatural artifact that bestows ungodly powers to whoever wields it. Once they find it, they’ll finally be the greatest band in the world, which should bleed over into a little extra money for rent.
The film and album cover a decent amount of musical territory. We get a nice classical homage (“Classico”), head-banging metal (“Master Exploder”), mushroom-enhanced bluegrass (“Papagenu”), and epic rock-opera (“Beelzeboss”).
The soundtrack album also features guest appearances by Meat Loaf, Ronnie James Dio, and Dave Grohl on a few songs. But enough preamble, let’s get into it.
Remember those guest appearances I just mentioned? Well “The Pick of Destiny” opens with a song that includes both Meat Loaf and Ronnie James Dio. The film opens in on a young Jack living with a conservative and controlling family in a town called Kickapoo. Meat Loaf plays the role of Jack’s father, who disciplines him when he hears his son playing rock music.
When Jack looks for guidance, Ronnie James Dio is there to give it. The image of Dio on a poster in Jack’s room comes to life, and sends Jack off on a mission to find the land of Hollywood.
This is one of my favorite scenes from “The Pick of Destiny”. In it, Jack is fantasizing about how great he’ll be once they get their hands on the pick. His voice has enough power to blow an audience member’s head clean off. And at one point, Kyle gains two extra arms to play a wicked riff. I love how over the top this scene is, and the music that accompanies it fits perfectly.
Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)
Long story short, Jack and Kyle end up retrieving the Pick of Destiny from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When they return to the open mic stage, however, they get a nasty surprise. The host reveals himself as the literal devil right before their eyes, and announces his malicious intent.
Luckily, quick thinking leads Jack to challenge the devil to a rock off. If they win, he has to return to hell and pay their rent. If not, Jack says, the devil can take Kyle back to hell with him.
The devil in this scene is played by Foo Fighters frontman and insane drummer Dave Grohl. He shows off his skills on both guitar and drums in this scene, and ultimately announces that Tenacious D are “F***ing lame”. The lightning he then shoots at Kyle ricochets off Jack’s guitar and breaks off a piece of his horn. After that, Jack makes short work of the devil with a little spell learned from Ben Stiller in the first act.
Overall, I think listening to “The Pick of Destiny” soundtrack is more enjoyable than the actual film, or at least has more replay value. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Jack Black fan, and there are some great cameos in “The Pick of Destiny” that make it a joy to watch. But I think I find myself wanting to listen to just a song or two from the album more often than a desire to re-watch the entire movie. You can take that for what it’s worth.