Music Placements That Seem Never Out Of Place
There are some things common to all human beings, regardless of gender, nationality, upbringing, cultural or religious beliefs: a sense of humor, a desire for communication, love and security, a taste for good food, a handful of embarrassing moments and at least one time in our lives when we let slip a tear or two during a movie. The emotional depth of the human spirit is an attractive field to explore, but tear-jerkers are no longer what they used to be.Yes, we all know and love the heart-breaking sacrifice portrayed by Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” and yes, whether we like to admit it or not, we’ve all cried desperately during the Celine Dion backdrop of “Titanic”, but nowadays the upfront drama tunes are losing ground to something less epic, but more easy to identify with- “quiet” music.All Hail Simplicity At Its Best
Leonard Cohen is an outstanding and wildly gifted artist, but, among the many beautiful pieces of work that make up his resume, there is one in particular that holds an interest for people in the music placement business. Jeff Buckley’s cover of Cohen’s masterpiece “Hallelujah” is one of the most sensitive and disturbingly profound songs ever to be featured in visual media.
Who can forget the hurtful finale of The O.C.’s first season, when everything seems to fade away into chaos with the departures of Ryan and Seth? As they leave behind a bunch of people filled with broken dreams, the melancholic tunes of Buckley’s guitar strike a chord and dig up the sadness in all of us.
This simple, but still delicate and touching song has been used several times in The O.C., in Without a Trace, House MD, The West Wing, as well as some big-screen productions such as The Edukators or Lord of War, not to mention that it was a source of inspiration for many covers and singing performances. Its appeal is so universal and its potential for music placement so amazing, it actually topped the charts years after its author sadly passed away, because is just is that beautiful. Beyond any spiritual weight it might carry, the reason for which it impresses so much is that it speaks about redemption, acceptance and inner peace. Still waters indeed run deep.
The Trend To Keep A (S)Low Profile
The saying “less is more” that seems to characterize this music supervision trend is also valid for this next, very moving song. “Twilight” can be accused of many things, but not of bringing forth a less than perfect soundtrack, as Iron&Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” stands to confirm. The slow and mellow, folk-ish music provides the perfect setting for the movie’s prom scene and for an idealistic love that needs nothing but itself. It’s sleek, soulful and expressive, tragic, yet, at the same time, hopeful and, somehow, more sentimentally charged than many dramatic hard rock ballads.
Actually, the man behind the name, folk-rocker Samuel Beam, has quite a record of having his music licensed for placement in movies and on TV. With covers and original compositions popping up in M&M commercials, Garden State, House MD or The L Word, it’s crystal clear that his unique, lyrical and unpretentious style is nothing short of a hit.
You don’t necessarily need an acoustic guitar to tap into the core of human spirit. If you take a look at the eclectic Imogen Heap, you’ll see that just plain awesome vocals and a soothing rhythm are just as good for reaping facial expressions, intrinsic reactions and a lot of attention.
Again, we go back to The O.C.- and what a music placement handbook it truly is- to find Imogen Heap’s “Speeding Cars” as the hidden essence behind the landmarks of graduation and coming of age, while we are also reminiscing or anticipating the turning points of our own existence. There’s nothing that captures the true dimension of the moment better than her flowing, silky voice and her lullaby-like musical arrangement, making it virtually impossible for anyone to refrain from crying.
Her contemporary and postmodern soft music has been integrated into the scripts of Heroes, Garden State, The Last Kiss, The Holiday, Suburban Girl, Ghost Whisperer and many others. Undoubtedly a silent spotlight stealer, her work is an interweaving of all the different threads that make up mankind, condensed and refined into a pure expression.
It’s Music Placement That Never Feels Out Of Place
In fact, “pure” might very well be the basic keyword here. There’s a great number of songs that could qualify as “quiet” tear-robbers; devised by more or less familiar names, like Death Cab for Cutie, The Fray, John Mayer, Sia or Colin Hay, and lending a special helping hand in the magic of the magnificent Grey’s Anatomy, Transformers, Garden State, The Bucket List or Six Feet Under, these particular samples of art share a certain innocence and, simultaneously, a superior understanding of life.
Herein lies the future of cinematic drama. Just take some time to reflect upon your favorite modern movie or TV show and you’re bound to uncover some genuinely mellow songs. Why? For no reason other than the fact that they are simply human. This kind of music isn’t chosen by music supervisors because it sounds original or because it cries to stand out, it gets picked out due to the fact that it doesn’t do any of that.
These music placement gems are not catchy, in-your-face, stand-offish, aggressive or extravagant, they are not pretending bad things don’t happen and they are not exaggerating their proportions when they do. What they accomplish is, instead, to entice the viewers to think and feel, to trigger revelations and enlightenment rooted in mere trifles, but speaking on a universal scale. Their message is that of a tranquil dignity and gradual fight in withstanding the hard, cold facts of reality and in moving on, which is nothing more and nothing less than what we do on a daily basis.
To put it in a nutshell, it’s a happy-end story for everyone: the scripts get their intensity, the viewers get to empathize and learn something about themselves, the supervisors get their sure bet, and the artists get to write up something easy to think of and easy to fall in love with. We all have our playlists for the down points of life, many of which do and will include the calm background tracks we first heard during a break-up scene. Music placement has once again changed visual experience and has brought a new twist to pop culture- looking inside, instead of outside.