Aural Fixation

Aural Fixation - Large

Bringing a beloved (or at least nostalgia inducing) television show to the big screen is no easy undertaking (especially for shows that have been off the air for a few good years.) The task of adapting existing material (whether it be from a book series, a comic book or a well-known public figure) can be daunting as you hope to live up to expectations while also trying cultivate new fans. When it comes to turning a television show into a film, having a few well placed cameos from the original cast, rooting the film in a story true to that show’s world and (seeing as many of these shows were comedies) not letting the film version take itself too seriously seem to be the keys to these adaptation’s success. With Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s updated 21 Jump Street taking to the silver screen this weekend, I realized that the one thing all these shows have in common (regardless of when they aired, who starred in them or what they were about) is also the one element that many television shows on air today have done away with – a catchy theme song.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Who wouldn’t love to have their own personal soundtrack playing wherever they went? An epic theme song that announced your arrival when you walked into a room or a electric guitar riff whenever you might need an extra rush of adrenaline – these touches would make every move you made seem movie worthy. And sure, you can throw in your iPod ear buds as you walk around town or crank up your car stereo as you hit the gas to get a similar effect, but without having someone follow you around with a boom box, having a personal soundtrack is not very likely because (unfortunately) that is not how things work in real life. In normal, everyday life music isn’t always playing, underscoring our more emotional moments and highlighting the intense ones. With the emergence of found footage films bringing a new style of filmmaking to the industry (with mixed results and reactions), the idea that these films are made up of footage anyone could capture if they were to pick up a camera and hit record leaves these films (as is the case in life) without much music. Real life is full of ambient noises, awkward pauses and people accidentally talking over one another so a film capturing these moments would break that unedited feeling if it had perfectly scored music fleshing out scenes because that is simply not true to reality.

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Aural Fixation - Large

I probably listen to more scores than most people (or even most film fans) do and I realized that while the various scores filling my iTunes range from action (LOUD NOISES!) to drama (sad guitars) to comedy (funny guitars!) one fact remains consist across the board – the majority of these scores are composed by men. In a time where the ladies are starting to make their presence more and more known in film (which, let’s be honest, has been a veritable boy’s club up until the past few decades) with Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director for 2008’s The Hurt Locker to the ladies of Bridesmaids taking some of the raunchy comedy heat from the boys, it surprised me to see such a lack of a female presence when it came to who creates the music for these films. I am a lady and I (clearly) have a passion for music and know girls have just as much musical talent as the guys – so why is my gender lacking in the “Original Music by” section of IMDb? As I started looking into this question, I began to realize that the majority of female composers seemed to be working in television. Women seem to be much more prominent in the world of TV with The Chop Shop’s Alexandra Patsavas (who has placed the music for shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Chuck, and Gossip Girl) practically ruling the role of music supervisor and the duo of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (“Wendy & Lisa”) composing the music for popular shows such […]

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Aural Fixation - Large

With yesterday’s announcement that tickets for The Hunger Games were officially on sale (and billboards for the films starting to pop up), Mockingjays everywhere rushed to their computers to buy their ticket to finally watch Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), Liam Hemsworth (Gale) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) bring the book series to the big screen. As we get closer to The Hunger Games release, we also got the film’s full soundtrack listing which revealed the artists that would be creating the musical landscape of Panem. Poised to be one of the next huge book-to-screen franchises, scoring a spot on the soundtrack was a coveted position and the artists that made the final track listing do not disappoint. The stripped-down sound of artists like singer/songwriter Glen Hansard (best known as the other half of The Swell Season) and alt-rock band The Decemberists (whose track “One Engine” is already available) are what you would expect from the series about a desolate world in which children are forced to fight each other to the death. But much like Breaking Dawn’s surprising soundtrack listing, The Hunger Games also features unexpected choices like hip-hop’s Kid Cudi and bluegrass from Punch Brothers.

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We all know that music is an important part of the film experience. It helps set the mood and has the power to completely influence a film’s tone. Changing the music, regardless of what is happening on screen, can suddenly alter the feel or perception of a scene. You take the sound out of a horror film (as I explored here) or replace intense score with cheesy pop music (as spoofed in Funny or Die’s mock Drive trailer) and suddenly the fear and the anxiety are taken away. You are less likely to jump at a sudden reveal without the musical jab that goes along with it and watching Ryan Gosling bash a man’s head into a wall goes from unsettling to humorous when set to Enrique Iglesias’ “I Can Be Your Hero.” Back before there was talking in film, music was the only thing to accompany the moving images and was used to not only convey the emotions being acted out on screen, but to also provide all the sound in the film. The Artist does a brilliant job of not only taking us back to a time of full and vibrant orchestrations, but also reminding audiences how different films were then from what we are used to seeing (and hearing) on screen now. In one of The Artist’s first scenes, this difference proven handily when the audience bursts into applause and you do not hear a single clap.

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From Kate Hudson coining the term “Band-Aids” in Almost Famous to Mark Wahlberg realizing his dream of becoming the lead singer of Steel Dragon in Rock Star, the obsession with and adoration of various famous bands and musicians has been chronicled through many different films. Nick Hamm’s Killing Bono joins their ranks, telling the story of Neil McCormick (Ben Barnes) and his obsession with not just becoming a huge rock star, but doing so on his own terms without the help of his fellow schoolmates who also formed their own band…which happened to then go on and become U2. Neil is a dreamer so fixated on the idea of stardom and all the spoils that come with it that he does not seem to quite grasp what it takes to make that dream a reality. Dressing like David Bowie does not make you him and acting like you already are a rock star does not make you one. It is clear from the start that, although Neil has the passion, it is his brother Ivan (Robert Shehan) who has the talent. Neil launches his first in a series of decisions that sabotage not only his brother, but also himself, by telling Paul (Martin McCann), the lead singer of rival band The Hype, that despite his interest, Ivan would be staying with the family and performing in Neil’s band. This would normally boil down to nothing more than two garage bands fighting for top billing around local clubs in Dublin, but Paul […]

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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