Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > Entertainment Discussions > Movie Talk
Reload this Page >

Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Movie Talk A Discussion area for everything movie related including films In The Theaters

Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Old 08-18-10, 09:48 PM
  #1  
DVD Talk Reviewer/Moderator
Thread Starter
 
Kurt D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Formerly known as L. Ron zyzzle - On a cloud of Judgement
Posts: 14,454
Received 1,823 Likes on 1,224 Posts
Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Scott Pilgrim is making lots of noise for having a great soundtrack with lots of cool stuff on it. Wes Anderson also uses plenty of popular (or super-cool) music to color his films.

While I often love this, I remember a creative non-fiction teacher scolding me for using some Tones On Tail lyrics in a story I was working on, saying, "don't use someone else's work to make your own point." (After all, I was learning to write, not quote.)

So, song heavy soundtracks - a way to make your film more expressive and modern, or an easy way to make your movie seem cool while taking some of the pressure off of your own storytelling skills?

(For the record, I lost my faith in Anderson when it seemed to me more and more like he was overusing already recorded pop songs to make his movies work.)
Old 08-18-10, 09:54 PM
  #2  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Auburn University
Posts: 2,424
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Some directors can use it to perfection, and it really depends on the film. Paul Thomas Anderson did this with Boogie Nights and I couldn't imagine a better result.
Old 08-18-10, 10:23 PM
  #3  
DVD Talk Legend
 
JumpCutz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: south of heaven
Posts: 13,540
Likes: 0
Received 3 Likes on 3 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by AnonomusBob15
Some directors can use it to perfection, and it really depends on the film. Paul Thomas Anderson did this with Boogie Nights and I couldn't imagine a better result.
Good answer.


I much prefer original soundtracks though.
Old 08-18-10, 10:27 PM
  #4  
DVD Talk Reviewer/Moderator
Thread Starter
 
Kurt D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Formerly known as L. Ron zyzzle - On a cloud of Judgement
Posts: 14,454
Received 1,823 Likes on 1,224 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

I'll agree with Boogie Nights, for sure. Since that's a period piece, it kind of fits a different category, though. Seems like it's more common for such movies to use period songs to evoke the time period, more than to just move the story along or hammer home a feeling.

I'll never listen to Sister Christian the same way again ...
Old 08-18-10, 10:50 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Abob Teff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Not necessarily Formerly known as Solid Snake
Posts: 29,235
Received 1,243 Likes on 854 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

One major drawback is that it can seriously date a movie. If you are making a period piece, using period songs can be very effective. One movie that I immediately think of is Donnie Darko ... it could have easily been a "timeless" film, but the creators chose to firmly place it in the 1980s and used period music to cement that.
Old 08-18-10, 10:55 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Rypro 525's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: a frikin hellhole
Posts: 28,264
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Yeah, the Daredevil soundtrack is pretty bad (and im one of the few legit fans of that movie), but come on, a fucking power ballad
Spoiler:
during the funeral of Elektra's father
Old 08-18-10, 11:03 PM
  #7  
DVD Talk Reviewer/Moderator
Thread Starter
 
Kurt D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Formerly known as L. Ron zyzzle - On a cloud of Judgement
Posts: 14,454
Received 1,823 Likes on 1,224 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Not to go too far afield, but the Aerosmith song from Armageddon pretty much ruins everything ...
Old 08-18-10, 11:42 PM
  #8  
DVD Talk Godfather
 
inri222's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 50,673
Received 182 Likes on 120 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by AnonomusBob15
Some directors can use it to perfection, and it really depends on the film. Paul Thomas Anderson did this with Boogie Nights and I couldn't imagine a better result.
I agree with this.
Some others that I thought were also good:

Goodfellas
Repo Man
Dead Presidents
Cruising
Suburbia (Spheeris)
Old 08-18-10, 11:48 PM
  #9  
DVD Talk Ultimate Edition
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4,017
Received 8 Likes on 6 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by Abob Teff
One major drawback is that it can seriously date a movie. If you are making a period piece, using period songs can be very effective. One movie that I immediately think of is Donnie Darko ... it could have easily been a "timeless" film, but the creators chose to firmly place it in the 1980s and used period music to cement that.
Well it did have talk about the 88 election and there was other bits of dialogue that dated the movie.
Old 08-18-10, 11:55 PM
  #10  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 10,864
Received 216 Likes on 155 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by Kurtie Dee
Not to go too far afield, but the Aerosmith song from Armageddon pretty much ruins everything ...
The movie was doing a good enough job of that on it's own.

I don't have any issue with using songs, just like orchestral music they can either enhance or distract from a scene. The picture or director doesn't suddenly lose my respect if everything in it isn't original.
Old 08-19-10, 12:06 AM
  #11  
Banned by request
 
Supermallet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Termite Terrace
Posts: 54,150
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 8 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by Kurtie Dee
Scott Pilgrim is making lots of noise for having a great soundtrack with lots of cool stuff on it. Wes Anderson also uses plenty of popular (or super-cool) music to color his films.

While I often love this, I remember a creative non-fiction teacher scolding me for using some Tones On Tail lyrics in a story I was working on, saying, "don't use someone else's work to make your own point." (After all, I was learning to write, not quote.)

So, song heavy soundtracks - a way to make your film more expressive and modern, or an easy way to make your movie seem cool while taking some of the pressure off of your own storytelling skills?

(For the record, I lost my faith in Anderson when it seemed to me more and more like he was overusing already recorded pop songs to make his movies work.)
It depends on the film and the use of the music. The Scott Pilgrim comics use tons of songs references anyway, so it wouldn't have made sense to have no known songs on the soundtrack.

I think movies are a different situation than prose writing, because it's a combination of multiple art forms to create something new. If a movie uses a song really well, it should change the audience's perception of the song and the movie. If you want to use Wes Anderson as an example, his use of "Strangers" by The Kinks in The Darjeeling Limited is the best moment in the movie and subsequently has changed the way I listen to that song.

Then there are other movies where the song is a distraction or detracts from what's on screen. It all depends on how these things are used.
Old 08-19-10, 12:55 AM
  #12  
DVD Talk Reviewer/Moderator
Thread Starter
 
Kurt D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Formerly known as L. Ron zyzzle - On a cloud of Judgement
Posts: 14,454
Received 1,823 Likes on 1,224 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

I'm totally on board with good use of popular songs, too. Goodfellas definitely made me love 'Layla' in a way I hadn't before. I prefer it to be sparing, though.

Not to harp on Wes Anderson too much, (or am I trolling? cackle cackle) but I lost it with Life Aquatic, sometimes his movies are so much about the music that you're not thinking, "damn, Wes Anderson is a great director," but, "damn, look how nicely this song fits the scene, Anderson has great taste in music."

Absolutely movies are way more synergistic than prose, with different rules, but a soundtrack is a large percentage of the success of a movie, (10%? 20%?) when have you crossed the line into being a good DJ?

Er, does it matter?

/thread
Old 08-19-10, 04:04 AM
  #13  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Travis McClain's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Western Hemisphere
Posts: 7,758
Received 176 Likes on 116 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

For my money, the best use of songs in a film is still American Graffiti. The radio broadcast anchors the entire night, and gives the film not only its structure (providing segues between concurrent scenes), but really helps craft the sense of the story happening in some kind of condensed real time. Brilliant, and since it was meant to take place more than a decade before it was filmed, being dated isn't an issue.

I think the licensing costs for getting previously recorded music is prohibitive enough that it's not too often a movie will include songs out of laziness on the part of the director. As for the artistic merits of including someone's work to accentuate a film, it seems to me that's a non-issue. Each actor makes specific choices with how to say lines written--and re-written--by someone else. How the scene is blocked, lit, shot; all of that is determined by the cinematographer and director. What's filmed is edited by someone else entirely. My point is, a film is far more than a single individual's work. I don't see how the inclusion of a song originally created and recorded outside of the context of the film makes the film itself somehow less original.
Old 08-19-10, 04:54 AM
  #14  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
riotinmyskull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: portsmouth, va
Posts: 9,176
Likes: 0
Received 3 Likes on 3 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

no mention of DAZED AND CONFUSED...movie wouldn't be the same without that soundtrack
Old 08-19-10, 07:18 AM
  #15  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Formerly known as Groucho AND Bandoman/Death Moans, Iowa
Posts: 18,295
Received 372 Likes on 266 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
I think the licensing costs for getting previously recorded music is prohibitive enough that it's not too often a movie will include songs out of laziness on the part of the director.
Yeah, but now bands sign up with licensing companies that basically say to studios "You need a song for an action/romance/sad/scary/funny scene? Well here it is" providing songs by unknown bands that want exposure on the cheap.
Old 08-19-10, 07:37 AM
  #16  
DVD Talk Ultimate Edition
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Briarwood Sanatarium
Posts: 4,293
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

I can think of 1 movie that has the single most annoying damn song played over and over and over until I absolutely hated it.
Jennifer's Body. Through The Trees. I never wanna hear that song again and it actually detracts from me enjoying the movie more
Old 08-19-10, 10:17 AM
  #17  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Republic of Texas
Posts: 2,344
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Since you asked, I can't stand the non-diegetic use of pre-existing pop music in a movie. I understand the desire some directors seem to have to make movies accompanied by mixtapes instead of real scores, but I can think of many more movie scenes that were ruined than were made more effective by the practice. At the end of The Matador this moment:
Spoiler:
"Well here we are... man and wife sharing a moment of silence... at our son's grave... Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Island recording artist The Killers!"
made me want to vomit. I admit occasionally a scene and a song will work so well together that I can dig it in spite of myself. I never thought a Foreigner song could get to me until the first kiss scene in Fucking Åmål. But that was probably diegetic - coming from the taxi radio? - so maybe it's one of those exceptions that proves the rule.

Really? You had to look it up? You make me sad.
Old 08-19-10, 10:21 AM
  #18  
DVD Talk Legend
 
islandclaws's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Behind the Orange Curtain
Posts: 20,085
Likes: 0
Received 7 Likes on 7 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Some directors use the soundtrack to complement the film, others use music to suffocate it. As long as it fits the picture, I'm ok with it.
Old 08-19-10, 10:44 AM
  #19  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Formerly known as "orangecrush18" - still legal though
Posts: 13,844
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

My favorite use of pop music in a film's soundtrack is Grosse Point Blank. I do think I prefer scores generally.
Old 08-19-10, 10:54 AM
  #20  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
MrSmearkase's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ayer, MA
Posts: 5,259
Received 3 Likes on 3 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

In my opinion, Garden State is an example where the director, Braff in this example, used the music to compliment the film.
Old 08-19-10, 10:58 AM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 605
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by riotinmyskull
no mention of DAZED AND CONFUSED...movie wouldn't be the same without that soundtrack
That's a bingo...this and Almost Famous wouldn't be anywhere near the masterpieces they are without their respective soundtracks. Although, I'd have to argue that Goodfellas makes the best use of music out of all the films I've seen.
Old 08-19-10, 11:32 AM
  #22  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
davidlynchfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 3,879
Received 94 Likes on 76 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

I really hated the way Watchmen used the classic rock tracks.
Old 08-19-10, 11:34 AM
  #23  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Goat3001's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: NYC
Posts: 17,116
Received 23 Likes on 11 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by riotinmyskull
no mention of DAZED AND CONFUSED...movie wouldn't be the same without that soundtrack


And for a movie set in the 90's, I recently rewatched Empire Records and that movie is also nothing without the soundtrack.
Old 08-19-10, 12:30 PM
  #24  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Sean O'Hara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Vichy America
Posts: 13,533
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by MrSmearkase
In my opinion, Garden State is an example where the director, Braff in this example, used the music to compliment the film.
I'd disagree, but Chris Milam already said it better than I can in his great article, Bored New World: How the Zach Braff Prototype Is Slowly Killing American Music:

A few years later, Natalie Portman popped headphones onto Zach Braff’s head and said flatly, “This song will change your life.” The resulting sound was not only that of carefully composed dullness (thank you, Shins), but of a million wealthy white kids investing in dull acoustic music to soundtrack their own romantic melodrama. Youth culture is now practically sponsored by iTunes and Starbucks, and if that’s not a class statement, I don’t know what is. Every commercial features acoustic meanderings with a whispering, confessional androgynous voice. Entire movies are soundtracked by the supposedly self-aware acoustic stylings of Joe Latte. Percussion and humor are nowhere to be found. Neither is a pulse.
Old 08-19-10, 01:45 PM
  #25  
DVD Talk Reviewer/Moderator
Thread Starter
 
Kurt D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Formerly known as L. Ron zyzzle - On a cloud of Judgement
Posts: 14,454
Received 1,823 Likes on 1,224 Posts
Re: Song heavy soundtracks: good/bad?

Originally Posted by Luther Heggs
Since you asked, I can't stand the non-diegetic use of pre-existing pop music in a movie.
Thanks Luther for introducing the proper term for my question. I remember having a brain once, but I've destroyed it with beer.

As for Zach Braff, the Garden State soundtrack destroyed any chance I had of ever liking The Shins.

It does seem like for a lot of modern movies soundtracking has become a licensing game. Sometimes I'd prefer library tracks over a modern pop track.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.