Let’s talk soundtracks, not the filler music, but the songs chosen to accompany a movie or TV show. It may shock you that a guy that titles most of his posts with a song reference would have opinions on song choice — I hope you’re sitting down, because I do.
Lots of movies have featured popular music in the background, but I think it was The Big Chill, a self-indulgent boomer fable, that really kicked off heavy use of popular music that wasn’t composed for the movie. It had a lot of Stones and other ’60s hits. At the time, it was innovative. But today, use of old R&B hits is derivative at best, and to me it’s just lazy music choice. No offense to the estate of Marvin Gaye, but let’s give “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” a rest in movie soundtracks. In fact, let’s give any Motown 60’s hit a rest – they are totally overused, in my opinion.
Another song that is in an amazing number of soundtracks is Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You. It’s almost as if the soundtrack pickers (sound designers?) have an automatic go-to whenever there’s a melancholy moment in a movie. I do like the song, and Hope Sandoval in general, but it’s another lazy choice.
For me, the ultimate movie soundtrack was chosen by Paul Thomas Anderson for Magnolia. It’s almost all Aimee Mann songs that PTA weaves into the story, and used to inspire his characters. The cast singing her song “Wise Up” during the movie is, to me, a great moment.
More recently, like a lot of things movies and TV series, the music choice has gotten really good. There are a lot of good examples, but one you might not expect is the soundtrack to the British TV series Sex Education. It’s a combination of original work by Ezra Furman (here’s an example), plus a very eclectic and wide ranging song choice, including 80’s bands like The Smiths and The The, to good covers like the Hot 8 doing Sexual Healing. Somebody put a ton of work into it, and when they use a cliche song like Sexual Healing, at least they picked a good cover instead of the original (again, apologies to the estate of Marvin Gaye).
I don’t know if anyone else gives a shit about this stuff, but if you do, share some good examples of movie or TV show soundtracks.