Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Simply Nostalgic, Or Simply Not Needed?

Roxette, Partners in Kryme, Chad Kroeger, Coolio, Badly Drawn Boy, Celine Dion, U2, Seal, Wet Wet Wet, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith, Limp Bizkit, Whitney Houston, The Righteous Brothers, Will Smith, Prince…

What do all these artists have in common?

They all had chart hits with a movie theme song (yes, even Chad Kroeger ).

Before we go any further, and to avoid any confusion, when I say a movie theme song, I don’t mean a song that a movie has nicked for its trailer, or to put on its soundtrack of eleven other random songs. What I mean, is an artist or band who have written a new song, or used one of their own, and made an actual music video that features clips from the film.

Got it? Good. Lets move on.

I remember as a kid, watching Saturday morning TV and being promised by the presenters that they will be showing a new music video for a new film that was due out. Sometimes it was a great song that really helped capture the feel the movie was going for (U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me: Batman Forever), sometimes it was just plain bad (Roxette – Almost Unreal: Super Mario Bros.), sometimes it got stuck in your head for days ( Will Smith - Men In Black: Men In Black) and sometimes it was just an unstoppable force (BryanAdams – Everything I do: Robin Hood Prince of Theives). In fact, I think it’s still currently number one.

U2 were turned into comic book characters for the Batman Forever video
Even if you did not particularly like the song (I can't tell you how much hated that Bryan Adams song), what it did do, was get you excited about the film.  The music video would show you clips from the film and snippets you had not seen before. It was the old school ‘teaser trailer’.

In an age before the Internet was the common marketing tool, it was a powerful way for studios to generate hype for a film which would then go on to pocket them lots of money. They would make a nice sum from the music video, and the artist would make a lot of money from a boost in music sales.

So why have they seemingly come to a halt? Stop me if I am wrong, but the only recent films I can think of to use music videos have been the Transformers films with Linkin Park (with the exception to the Bond films of course!) They associated their name to all three Transformers movies... and it paid off. Their music sales went up each time a Transformer film was released. But despite their record sales going up, their credibility went down. Was there anything wrong with what they did? Is there anything wrong with a band or artist writing a song for a film, knowing it will make them more money? Or is that what people call selling out?

The Transformers songs transformed Linkin Parks success. Haha, get it?
No one had a problem with Celine Dion cashing in on a real life disaster, or Seal singing about a man dressing up as a giant bat. But I’m not here to debate about what constitutes selling out. What I am asking is - is this the reason artists are distancing themselves from such ventures? Are they worried about how it may look these days? Is it now seen as 'cheesy' to release a song for a film? And if so, when did this happen?

It would seem in this economic climate, when music artists are complaining about illegal downloading hurting their industry, now would seem like an ideal time to ‘sell out’ and make some money. With the amount of big budget action films being released at the moment (The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Dredd 3-D, Captain America etc), surely it wouldn’t hurt anyone to have released a song/video for these films. I would have thought that these types of films would have been a great place for a band to step up and write a song for. There are rom-coms coming at us left, right and center, but no love songs to go with them. Would an army of women not rush out and buy a song for a new Channing Tatum film if it was sung by Adele or Rhianna?

I have seen however, a new trend occurring. Artists and bands are now writing scores and soundtracks for films. Recently notable from the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Karen O and Alex Turner. Who have recently worked on Hanna, Tron Legacy, Where The Wild Things Are and Submarine. However, none of them released an actual music video for any of their tracks - an opportunity surely missed. Fever Ray - of duo The Knife - penned a song called The Wolf specifically for the film Red Riding Hood. But again, no music video was to go with the film. It simply featured in one of the films scenes. A shame considering the song itself was perfect for the film.

Fever Ray on her day off
The songs that are being written for films only seem to feature in the film, on the trailer or on the soundtrack. In the artists eyes, maybe writing a full soundtrack is not is seen as selling out and something more credible and artistic?

Perhaps another reason for the current lack of film music videos, is that now maybe because we have the internet, it does not make financial sense to make a music video for a film. We do not need to wait to see the music video on the television or go out and buy the single at Our Price with our pocket money. We can just go onto YouTube and watch them on there at our own convenience.

But I’m just a 30 year old man, with a love of nostalgia. I had a pre-YouTube childhood, where you would have to watch the whole of Going Live just so you didn't miss out  on the new music video that had been promised to you by Schofield three hours ago. I also love the memories each song conjures up in me. I love that I can hear a song from my childhood and immediately place it with the film it was from. I can remember where I was when I first saw the video and the excitement I got from it, and the anticipation for the film itself.  Even if the song sucked - which to be fair, most of them did, except for T.U.R.T.L.E Power of course...

I feel that a new generation of children are missing out on future trips down memory lane.

Bring back the movie music video.

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