Picture yourself at the age of 12. After asking your friends “who’s the fittest ___ in our year?” at two in morning; after going berserk off a sip of Red Bull; and after prank calling a fully (un)suspecting, uninvited friend from school, you finally decide to get a hold of yourself from your caffeine binge and watch an abysmal film. Of course, your 12 year old self wants something disgustingly biased to your gender. Something that you won’t tell your parents you watched. Something that will change how you dress, what you talk like, or maybe even what you listen to.
Anyone remember American Pie? That absolutely huge soundtrack! Those incredible bands like Blink, and Green Day, Simple Plan, Sum 41, Alien Ant Farm. Just so much goddamn pop punk! So much beautiful pop punk, with that over zealous voice and repetitive guitar and mundane bassline and…
Wait, what? They’re terrible bands. Furthermore, pop punk is a terrible genre of music, why did I ever enjoy that? More importantly why do they put those bands in films?
Same goes for Twilight. Muse and Linkin Park? Who is deciding to miseducate these kids by putting these useless bands into the equation? Why aren’t there guidelines in the film industry about this? Dear God.
As one would, I too thought that, but after some considerable thought I settled on a far more diplomatic conclusion. I was about 12 when I first read/watched Twilight (embarrassing I know, whatever) and the music played along with those ridiculous fight scenes of a sparkling lanky kid and some dude in dreads just spoke to me. I mean, that was as close to euphoria as I could get to at that age. Once the film had finished I grabbed my computer and punched a few words into Google and found the holy link. “Supermassive Black Hole – Muse” read the YouTube title. The development of my music taste started somewhere around there.
So yes, a film as shameful as Twilight got me into Muse and other poor bands. And watching American Pie and playing Guitar Hero got me into Blink 182. Looking back now, many of us would put ourselves at shame, but in reality it’s only a good thing that we were into such tragic artists. This new genre of music, these new sounds, these new beats just changed everything. I no longer listened to any rap or pop or anything like that, I would just spend my endless free time sitting at home and discovering (new) music. After those 4 years I’m where I am now, with a hugely different music taste.
Of course, I’d hate to listen to Muse now. The thought of Starlight and that cheesy melody is nothing compared to Real Estate layering seven different guitar parts on Green Aisles. And the thought of Linkin Park’s supposed sad songs are definitely not as heartbreaking as Spanish Sahara, and strangely enough I Miss You by Blink 182 is no where near as poetic as Doherty’s – (Love You) But You’re Green. But at least those old, boring bands got me into a better world of music. If it wasn’t for them, who knows? Perhaps I’d be crying over how Lil Wayne quit music to start skateboarding for Mountain Dew.
And honestly: when and how will “good” music fit a poorly made film? And this “good” music, is it easy to listen to for one who’s never been exposed to such music before? If instead of Blue Valentine, Grizzly Bear had written that soundtrack for Mean Girls, would the targeted audience appreciate their efforts? What if the Juno soundtrack was made for Ironman instead? Do you think a boy who’s just looking to see things get blown up on a screen, would go and buy Belle and Sebastian’s “Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant”? The answer is obviously no. No one who’s been heavily influenced by pop music (or no music) will be able to understand and fully appreciate the bands, and music selected for films with more mature themes.
Questioning why poor music is put into children’s films is futile, and a bit senseless, and so is “being ashamed” of being into that music back then. It gets more people into different types of music, and widens ones interests and personality. Do I like gateway bands? Of course not. Would I campaign against putting gateway bands in children’s films? No. If I’m young and still literally discovering what I really like about music, I’d rather be immature about it and later develop a stellar iTunes library, than hear a Sonic Youth song from a young age and hate guitar music forever. As Kendrick said, “it’s deep rooted the music of being young and dumb.” So why not just let it happen?
Words By Saagar Kaushik
Editor of Words For Music. Love music and support each other.