Using Music to Make a Blockbuster

| March 24, 2000

Not only are film soundtracks, on average, the best selling records, they help make a good scene great when done right. By using the following genre based guide, you can make your very own blockbuster with little to no effort. Take notes, this is your ticket to millions.
COMEDY: Violation of expectations is key with comedy. The audience either expects pop music or a cheery Danny Elfman score. Deny them that. Think There’s Something About Mary and its contributions from ex- Modern Lover Jonathan Richman. Underlying Richman’s songs were his commercial failures and a horrible divorce he was undergoing at the time. This is what made the film comical so utilize it. Use Roky Erickson or Alex Chilton for your new comedy. The presence of former drug addicts will be hilarious. After all, there is nothing funnier than a failed suicide attempt. Bring their personalities into the visual aspect of the film by placing nooses, syringes, and bloody bathtubs in key scenes. Look at the popularity of The Wizard of Oz and Three Men and a Baby due to their infamous dead stagehands. For a money shot place the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” in a big sex scene. The opiate throb of [John] Cale and [Lou] Reed will drive the kids wild.
DISASTER: Get really creative here by calling to mind other mass disasters for dramatic effect. Over the course of a two and a half-hour film loop, non-stop, the audio from the Hindenburg crash, the Challenger explosion, and Oswald murder with a Fatboy Slim big beat undercutting it all.
DRAMA: So many of today’s dramas deal with the destruction of social roles, reverting man to his instinctual nature. Capitalize on this. Sounds of lions eating their prey should be placed behind scenes of conflict (and be sure to bump up the bone crushing). Sex scenes should have animal mating sounds. Imagine Last Tango in Paris with method hooting by real monkeys.
FOREIGN: To minimize the discomfort domestic audiences have with subtitles, replace them with a constant barage of patriotic rock. Remove all sound from the film and play “Born in the USA” and “American Pie” continuously. Even the most hardened anti-American film will seem downright reverent.
HORROR: There is nothing more frightening than collaborations so employ acappella groups to cover canonized classic rock songs. A perfect example would be a female quartet doing “Stairway to Heaven” with one vocalist making percussion sounds, another handling the bass (this would be an alto), a strong lunged woman perfectly replicating [Jimmy] Page’s riffs (complete with wah-wahs), and of course Plant’s screeches. If the group isn’t available rap-metal is scary enough.
PORN: Keeping in mind the low production values, nudie-dramas have the perfect fix. Glue tambourines and maraccas to the actors’ and actresses’ bodies so when the action heats up so does the beat (and if you know any hot cellists sign them!).
ROMANTIC COMEDY: Frame the opening and closing credits with John Lydon reading excerpts from his autobiography No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs to create a fuzzy, bigoted haze.
SCIENCE FICTION: Today’s sci-fi stresses the domination of machines and technology in the future. To help drive home mankind’s ineptness record drunken singers in Karaoke bars doing hits like “Time in a Bottle” or any Steve Miller Band song. Best case scenario is “Stayin’ Alive” during an interstellar fight sequence. For a CD only bonus track include William Shatner’s cover of “Rocketman” from a late 70’s science fiction award show.
SUSPENSE: Whodunits are stale so put some life into them with mysterious music. Nice jazz vocals containing red herring lyrics like, “The butler didn’t do it, he is only a bit actor” by a sultry female should do nicely. Also consider using the test screenings to record audience chatter speculating on who the killer may be. Placed high in the film’s mix, this should serve as a needed distraction for a lackluster plot.

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