Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Subtle Awesomeness

Music is amazing, and like people, it comes in a large spectrum.

For the most part, the majority of the people in a society will all recognize the same songs. For example, everyone reading this would know Canon in D if they heard it. We'd recognize Ode to Joy within a few notes. If the Jaws theme came on we'd all know both the song and the movie. We'd all recognize Beat It if it came on the radio along with thousands of other contemporary songs.

These songs are part of a culture--you can actually test if someone has a shared cultural history with you by their common recognition of them, or their ability to sing Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on cue.

Then there are other songs--songs you hear, but you don't actually know. Music that lives on the fringe, even as it reaches in and strokes the culture from time to time.

These songs fascinate me. They don't have the power to hook into the minds of people like a John Williams  or Danny Elfman theme. Yet when you hear them, they touch you somehow. You like them, even as something about the song fades from your mind like a dream upon waking. When it's playing, you're in it. You like it. You feel it. It's kind of a little perfect.But when it stops, it somehow filters back into the white noise of life and you can't hear in anymore. Maybe if you really think about it, but if you don't then in a day or so you'll forget about it entirely until the next time it comes up.

A lot of artistic things fall in this realm--not just music. They are elements that are used to fill out new creations in a way that "creative stars" can't. The Superman theme song, for example, can't be used in any other movie. That's Superman's song! Just like any other horror movie would be ridiculed for using a Jaws theme. There is no flexibility in that.

Such is not the case for the creative elements that live on the fringe. They get to be reincarnated and play a part in many stories.

One song in particular that gets to do this is John Murphy's Surface of the Sun. The first movie it was in was kind of a sleeper movie that flew under the radar. Great cast, but with neither positive nor negative reviews, it kind of just disappeared into the sea of movie meh-ness.

Here is the scene the song was originally scored for (highly recommend watching):

The good-ish news is that the movie didn't make enough money to do things like pay for an official soundtrack, or pay to have exclusive rights to the music it had scored, so this theme (like many others) has kind of dandelioned into into other movies over the years. (And yes, I've just decided I like the word dandelion as a verb.)

The next movie to use the theme in an epic scene is Kick-Ass. And if reading that movie title offended you, I wouldn't recommend watching the clip below. For the record, I like the movie because it does what movie violence SHOULD do: It makes you ill. Yes, there is a lot of glam choreography--especially with Hit Girl. But the violence in the movie honestly makes you hate violence. It never truly lets you off the hook to celebrate something horrible it just choreographed. It leaves you sick and even chastises you for liking it.

That said, this clip is graphic, and if you watch to the last 5 seconds you will hear an f-bomb. So if that worries you, then just take my word that Surface of the Sun adds dramatic impact in this movie as well as a very highly trained little girl tries to save her father's life.

The song has slept a couple of years since appearing here, only to pop up again. This time it's in The Mortal Instruments trailer:

It's like homeless awesomeness just looking for a place to put in its roots, but something about it is still blowing on the wind. This is the state of 99% of creative ideas, I would guess--a perfect little seed just waiting for the right soil and the right synergy to become all it can be.

Until then, however, those ideas, like this song, just sneak around in the white noise, blowing around until they find their one true home.

And until they do, they can be fun to track :)

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