Monday, March 26, 2007

Theme and (no) variations.

Not that I'm on Hollywood's distribution list (or care to be*), but I keep feeling that I must've missed a memo...the one requiring that "serious" films nowadays have those benumbing, nouveau-folk theme songs and soundtracks that all seem as if they were written and performed by either Avril Lavigne (typically disoriented-looking at left) or Michelle Branch...screeching those tortured, oh-god-somebody-please-put-me-out-of-my-misery lyrics...rendered with that mumbly, strangely nasal affectation that sounds like what you'd get if you forced an Islamic cleric to yodel his evening prayers. There is one meaningful exception: If the movie deals with "urban" themes, then the soundtrack must be rap. And, to be fair, if they're feeling really adventurous, Hollywood's music-meisters might go with something by Alanis Morrissette...though that's risky, since, at almost 33, poor Alanis is getting very, very old and irrelevant.

I'm thinking all this because of that ubiquitous trailer for the new Adam Sandler vehicle, Reign Over Me. I find that I can't get that damn song out of my head, and as Don Corleone once put it, "That, I do not forgive." (Funny, I always thought that trailers were supposed to make you want to see the film.) Of course, I also realize that there's a method to the madness. Those trailers, with those grating songs, do make people want to see the film—at least, the people that Hollywood counts on for much of its (carefully sheltered) revenue: people whose ages consist of a single number followed by the suffix, teen. And the smaller the number before the suffix, teen, the better, from Hollywood's perspective. Those teenagers will go to see the same movie multiple times with different groups of friends. Those teenagers love Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch. Hollywood, therefore, loves those teenagers.

Still I ask: Is there no room—ever, at all—for, say, a reggae soundtrack? (In a movie that isn't about Jamaica or Jamaicans.) Reggae's not popular enough? Fine. What about jazz? (You remember jazz, right? Or "America's only indigenous art form," as it was widely hailed in its 1960s heyday?) Jazz is too "inaccessible"? How 'bout "standards"—something, perhaps, by Michael Buble, a latter-day crooner whose albums sell quite well, I hear. Classical? C&W? (In a movie that's not about Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn, that is.) Latin/salsa? Contemporary Christian or gospel? (Stop laughing.) Rob Zombie or Trent Reznor? (One movie doesn't count.) "Normal" pop music? I'd willingly, even eagerly listen to a soundtrack by Justin Timberlake, or a hairless Britney Spears, if it meant I didn't have to suffer yet another one by the likes of Avril Lavigne....

* Though, as regulars know, I was once involved in a TV movie, Bed of Lies, starring the then-very hot Susan Dey and the now white-hot character actor Chris Cooper. It was adapted from my true-crime book, Deadly Blessing, and was pretty much a first-class exerpience all around, as it was done by the Wolper Company—which previously gave TV audiences such miniseries classics as Roots and The Thorn Birds. Incidentally, the soundtrack to Bed of Lies was written by one of Hollywood's finest composers, David Shire, and is very nice. Not a single screech.


Cosmic Connie said...

And speaking of "Bed Of Lies," that was the name of a nice song by Matchbox Twenty (the group Rob Thomas used to be in).

And I could do with a good reggae soundtrack myself.

It's not all bad, though. I remember the trailer to "World Trade Center" used "Fix You" by Coldplay ("Lights will guide you home" etc.). I have no idea if it's in the actual soundtrack, since I never saw the movie, but at least they used it in the promo.

I also remember Michael Buble's hit "(I Wanna Go) Home" was used in a soundtrack in some movie or other fairly recently... but I can't remember which one.

Well, back to work...

Steve Salerno said...

Work? WORK?? And I thought you were fully committed to spending your days (and appropriate nights) thinking up clever comments for SHAMblog....!