Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I wannabe the movie music dude
I have a confession to make about my ambitions in life. Everyone has a dream job and mine has evolved over time. You know, it's the usual novelist, then rock star to leader of a powerful drug cartel. But to be honest, there was one job that I've always thought would be phenomenal. When I was a kid, before I became obsessed with music I was obsessed with film. One of the first dream jobs I ever thought of was to be the guy who picks the music that is played during films. Not the score composer but the dude who picks the rock song that plays as John Cusack makes out with some random woman drunkenly towards the end of a rom-com and then immediately regrets it because his true love is waiting.
I was reminded of this ambition not too long ago. As a fan of metal, I have a casual relationship with Tool and A Perfect Circle in that I occasionally listen to these bands and enjoy them (Maynard is an exceptional vocalist for this kind of music). I'm not saying they're good (although they are good at what they do), they just fulfill some metal deficiency I often find in my musical diet. Anyhow, as I'm a movie fan too I often watch a lot of trailers on the Apple trailer site - pretty much watching anything that appears whether I'd see it or not. I remember watching this Resident Evil trailer and despite the fact I will never see this film and can never remember hearing the Perfect Circle song before, I thought 'geez that sounds/looks awesome.' It made me actively find the song (The Outsider) and listen to it a bunch of times.
Now, here's the weird thing. Objectively, I think that movie looks like a pile of shit but I think the music makes it seem better and more exciting than if it wasn't there. The other thing is I tracked down the original music video for this song, which is TERRIBLE, and I think if I'd seen that first, I would never have liked the song.
I know I'm being Captain Obvious when I say there is an incredibly complex relationship between images and music but this is a case that genuinely stumps me. In isolation, neither of these things would have particularly excited me but together they make a tasty concoction that tastes nice, smells good and even though it's probably bad for me (like a mars bar: caramel awesomeness + chocolate seduction = heart disease for Jon), I can't deny that I like it.
Music is a powerful medium and often the circumstances in which we listen to it shape our relationship with it. For example, that song that reminds you of that girl/boy you broke up with because you used to listen it together or the song when they played when England got knocked out of the world cup (again). What interests me about popular culture is the way music is used to artificially create that moment that often naturally by virtue of music being part of our lives. However, it can be a tricky thing. A badly chosen song can kill a scene in a movie but the right song can make it memorable and moving in ways that just the raw footage never could.
The other reason I bring this up is I often listen to music and think, that’d be awesome in a movie. After writing about Mogwai the other day, I went on a Moggy bender and so much of their music would slide seamlessly into a movie. Even though that’s a cliché (music for movies that don’t exist yadda yadda), I think it’s a credit to a band that they can make music that endlessly arouses a visual reaction, I’m not sure how to phrase it but some music gets me dreaming about the world in a film like way.
To be honest, I think I’d be pretty good at picking music for movies but I think the underlying desire for doing this is inherently selfish. I probably want this job because I think I have superior music taste to everyone else and I could infect popular culture with excellent songs that I love.* Plus, it's the only job I can think of which utilises all the useless knowledge I have about music.
*As a side note, someone at Channel 10 has this job and has been very sneakily dropping in excellent music into some pretty banal programs. Both the 7pm Project and Sports Tonight have amazing music at times. Who knew?