Scene Too Often
*Note: Each song title is a link that will take you to its YouTube video*
In our modern-day situation of having an infinite amount of content to consume at our discretion, the vast majority of the first world have embraced the mindset that we need to be consuming as much as possible at all times. More content is being read/watched/listened to now than ever before but it’s also more temporary than ever and creators have a constant pressure to always be releasing as a result in order to maintain relevancy. In the world of music, people have access to hundreds of thousands of songs at their fingertips through music streaming services on their mobile phones. This has influenced the current trends in music consumption, which for the most part seem to express a preference for playing a popular song to absolute death for a number of weeks and then vaulting it to the back of our minds forever more.
The songs highest on the charts are often subject to this short-term hyper-fame but this is not the only way music is consumed. There are the artists of relative fame that release albums annually or bi-annually which fans will appreciate in full as the lengthy body of work that it is for respectable amounts of times until the next. There are classic or dated artists that fill us from head to toe with nostalgia, achieving immortality through timeless tunes, and are listened to on occasion as a reminder of the past (here’s looking at you “Hey Ya”).
While all of these have their significant place in music, what I’m most interested in within this topic is the phenomenon of songs that have stood the test of time through their constant, or maybe just iconic presence in certain types of movie scenes. Some songs have been immortalised by their presence in one movie (eg. “All Star” by SmashMouth in “Shrek”) but that’s not what we’re talking about here. The songs presented below are ones that would otherwise be relics today, but when mentioned, one could guess what happens in a movie while it’s playing because they’re ever-present in the movieverse. What will accompany each song title in question is a moment in a hypothetical movie that has not necessarily happened in any motion picture before but feels like it would be sigh-inducingly familiar along with the song. For their own sake, the teams behind these kinds of movies could do with finally parting ways with this particular collection of overused tracks and ignite their creative sparks to curate a new playlist of songs that induce similar emotions. The list is as follows:
It’s the opening scene of the movie. The protagonist’s alarm clock is the first thing we see and as the minute changes to a new hour. The alarm goes off. Cue the intro to Mr. Blue Sky. We see the character instantly knock off the alarm and hop out of bed with great enthusiasm. They jerk open their curtains to be met by a sunny day and take a deep breath in through their nose while they embrace the sight with a smile on their face. After that, cut to Mr/Mrs protagonist walking down a street. They are still sporting the shit-eating grin from before and are meeting almost everybody they pass with either a kind gesture or a pleasant greeting. They grab an apple from a fruit stand as they pass it and pay the vendor, insisting they keep the change as they take a big bite and continue to walk.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly stress-free life of this character, because you can bet your bottom dollar that they’re about to be met with a tough challenge that they’ll attempt to overcome for the rest of the movie.
You came to see this movie for some badass action scenes and this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. We’re at least an hour in at this point. There’s still no sign of a story forming or starting to make sense but this is what all of the previous events have been leading up to. The good guys have finally pinned down the location of the bad guy and he has nowhere to run anymore. In this particular scene, we have 3 heroes. They’re approaching the villain and the intro to the song has just started. The 3 heroes are walking in a tight triangle, with the main character in the centre leading the way and his two companions coming for their fair share of the can of whoop-ass about to be opened. The main character didn’t get a chance to change before the fight so is still wearing his dusty, bloody, ripped suit that was in pristine condition prior to the last fight he was in. That one was too even a battle for his liking, hence the addition of his two teammates for this one. Everybody is walking in slow motion.
The centre character is a hunk in pristine condition. The most eye-catching of the bunch. Has probably never eaten a anything other than chicken, broccoli and steroids in his life. He has an Ak-47 that he doesn’t plan on sparing any bullets for and also changes his sunglasses’ status either from off to on or vice versa (whichever he was doing before, he’s doing the opposite now to show you that he means business. Expect this guy’s hairstyle to be unscathed by the end of this brawl no matter what too).
The character to the left of him is the brute of the trio. Bulky in stature and potentially of a nationality with a naturally aggressive-sounding native language like Russian or German. He either speaks in minimal words of broken English, or exclusively through grunts for the whole movie. For some reason he’s carrying a weapon that’s highly impractical considering the arsenal of destructive items he could’ve chosen from. Instead of bringing an Ak-47 or a shotgun he’s carrying either a wrench, a pipe or a chain just so that we have no doubts about it that he’s the strong guy. Obviously he keeps his sunglasses on for this, as he has done for the entirety of his time on screen.
Number three in this dream team is the badass female character who definitely at some stage in the movie pulled over on her motorcycle, took off her helmet and shook her hair real sexy. She’s wearing a leather jacket and of course is wearing boots that end above her knee and look very awkward to put on. For this battle she’s wealding a blade of some sorts and is guaranteed to jump into every attack she makes with one knee up because that has somehow become an inevitable practice of this character trope.
As the intro to the song finishes and the beat drops, both X and the fighters are most certainly gon’ give it to ya and you can be guaranteed to see more blood and guts than an inside-out person in a feud with the Crips. Someone will accurately put a bullet through a villain’s head mid-flip, someone will weave in and out to dodge ten thousand bullets, and the villain’s henchmen are guaranteed to put up a pathetic fight.
What seemed to be an impossible heist has just been pulled off miraculously without anyone the wiser. The whole team executed the plan flawlessly and all that’s left now is for the leader of the group to walk out the front door with the goods in his briefcase. This walk, of course, sees the return of the classic application of sunglasses to heighten the character’s levels of badassery. Once this baller move happens you know damn well that the mission has been accomplished and nobody is catching this guy. The briefcase is handed off to him in the final stage of the heist and he, dressed in a dapper suit and walking with a swagger that only the mastermind behind a heist can possess, strolls right out the front door past security, smiling and making a finger-gun in their direction with his spare hand as he leaves, which acts as a discreet flipping of the bird for his personal enjoyment only. As this happens the song is playing and our guy is also narrating, connecting the dots and informing us of the vital aspects of the heist that had strategically been left out previously to induce every one of the 40 gasps and “aahhh” or “oohhhh” noises you’re making as things begin to make sense in your head.
This is a song that sits in the awkward position of being known for conveying a person’s experience of romantic feelings in a movie, but never actually being used when the romance is genuine and mature. The song looms in comedies and family movies and will live there forever more.
The events that happen for the entirety of this song’s feature in our predictable movie scene are set in a diner. An obviously unattractive man who is evidently lacking in table manners is sitting alone eating several portions of food and getting a significant amount of it on his face and clothes. He looks lonely and as though company would be much appreciated. He gazes around the room while giving his body 10 seconds of respite from the feast and his eyes meet something that hypnotizes him with its desirability.
Queue Spandau Ballet.
The camera shows us what his eyes are fixated on and we see that it’s a fellow customer. A stunning woman who would be undervalued at a 10/10 rating for beauty. She’s in conversation with two female friends and as we watch her in slow motion she is laughing and flicking her hair in a way that only an attractive movie character in slow motion can. Our greasy main character decides to make a move. He wipes his filthy face with one sweeping movement of his bare forearm and begins his trek across the restaurant, still entranced.
He reaches the table and as he gets close to the woman. It seems as though he’s about to go straight in for the kiss. Just as we believe it’s about to happen despite all the odds, he picks up the woman’s burger and is immediately transported to a fantasy land full of rainbows, teddy bears and sweets. He’s holding hands and laughing with the burger while spinning in circles. After a few moments, we return to the restaurant setting, which has suddenly become silent as everybody present is staring at the man spinning around and kissing a burger, displaying astronomical levels of weirdness and we’re supposed to laugh at how awkward things are. Just like that, this family movie has sealed its fate with a Rotten Tomatoes score ranging somewhere between 40% and 50%. Congratulations.
While these songs are no longer present in good movies, I can’t decide if I would welcome their absence going forward with open arms, or if they benefit me in my unwinding. The familiarity of their presence in movies that I know will be average assists me in my mindless viewing of them. I often decide to watch these movies when I don’t feel like fully concentrating on anything, and knowing exactly what atmosphere is being set just by the song I hear is great for assisting me in easily processing the movie as a whole. While it may lead to the odd eye-roll while I’m actually paying attention, overall I’m happy that these songs serve this purpose because there’s a distinct comfort in the predictability that surrounds them. I say that the artists that created these songs deserve the royalties they will continually receive from these songs and I look forward to not paying attention to the future scenes they are featured in, because if I’m watching then I will know my mind is at ease.