A+E: Music is Film’s Unsung Hero
by Aharon Colon, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Movies would not be anything without music. There would be no box office hits, no social media buzz, and definitely no hits to where you can lie down on your bed late at night having nostalgic feelings about your favorite scenes from your favorite films.
We’ve all been there. However, I do not believe that the music in these iconic movies get the amount of recognition that they deserve.
When I think of an entire album that had a profound effect on a movie, I think of Black Panther (2018) by Kendrick Lamar, featuring a swath of artists like SZA, Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Khalid, Swae Lee, Vince Staples, Anderson .Paak, Travis Scott and many more. This album has defined modern day soundtracks and set a new bar for movies to come.
Not only has it set trends in the film industry, it was widely popular as well, adding to the cultural pervasiveness of the Marvel film’s brand last year. With Black Panther already being acclaimed for casting an almost entirely African American cast, the album did not disappoint as the ensemble for a tremendous cast.
In terms of one-off songs that made their waves in pop culture film classics, Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from The Breakfast Club is arguably the most iconic song ever in movies.
The image of John Bender pumping his fist as the movie closes out is still fresh in the minds of film buffs, who will never forget what that moment meant to them. The very thought of that movie is synonymous with the song, and the people working on the movie chose a perfect tune to capture the moment. The teen-angst of the film mixed with the pop culture at the time, made the song feel nostalgic and give the vibe that nothing will ever be the same.
For soundtracks and background music, there are a plethora of great examples for all kinds of music and movie lovers. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, GoodFellas, The Shining, 8 Mile, JAWS, Pulp Fiction and more, all are still continuing to capture the imaginations of viewers everywhere. The purpose of the music in these films was not just about creating drama or intensity, but creating a multitude of different emotions for the watchers at home that could last a lifetime.
I remember sitting at home watching Star Wars for the first time, hearing the Empire’s theme song “The Imperial March” and having the fear of God struck in me. From then on, I began to pay more and more attention to the background music and the different songs playing as characters came and went. This attention has made my experience as a movie-goer exponentially better.
There is nothing like hearing a song play behind such an important scene in a movie and thinking, “Hey, what is the name of that song?”, then finding it and listening to it all day.
I feel like this feeling is not celebrated nor recognized enough. Movie-goers nowadays, unless they are presented with a pop album like Black Panther, tend to look over the soundtrack and build their opinions solely around the actors or the quality of the cinematography.
Without music, many aspects of a movie are not the same. It seems to me plain wrong to have recognizable scenes like the one from the Breakfast Club not have music backing it, or to not have the dashingly intense background music from Jaws underlying a chase scene. And it is, in fact, the music in these scenes that make them recognizable cultural mainstays in the first place.