Soundtrack Appreciation 101

In Commentary, HOME, MUSIC by Bianca Letele

There isn’t one word in the English vocabulary which I feel accurately describes my relationship with music. Audiophile is too Hi-Fi, discophile too vinyl, of which I fall under neither category. However in French a music lover is called melomane, from Greek mèlos (sing) and mania (maniac). So I guess that means I’m a melomaniac.

Music has always just been there for me, ever-present and incorporated into everything I do. That’s probably why when it comes to films, the soundtrack and use of sound is the most important thing to me. Give me a great plot and I’ll be happy, give me a great song choice at the perfect moment and I’ll be in tears.

The hip, gangster formula of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was so gritty and different from anything I’d seen at the tender age of around-thirteen that I just didn’t get it. It was exciting and confusing at the same time, however I just wasn’t old enough to appreciate Jason Statham’s snarky rapport with his lads, or mature enough to sit through the scene where Harry loses his shit and beats a poor fellow with a fifteen inch black rubber cock. RIP Smithy.

But what I could relate to was the use of sound in the film. Whether it was Dusty Springfield ushering in the next scene or simply silence when Soap talks about bringing knives to the raid (befitting), it was all a carefully constructed but extremely subtle signal that helped develop a relationship and reaction to what was going on.

With age came an appreciation for all the crass jokes and an understanding of why everyone was getting so hyped up about some green weeds for. But before then I had the soundtrack, and what a soundtrack it was. Consisting largely of vintage punk rock, R&B, and reggae with a few other oddities thrown in, it reflected perfectly the street-tough vibe of the film whilst also acknowledging its softer corners.

It’s no wonder that with music heavyweights like James Brown and The Stooges making an appearance on the track list that I made a point of purchasing the CD not long after. Being one of the only records I still own a physical copy of, its makes me sad sometimes that I don’t even have a disk drive to use it with anymore.

Songs and silence can make or break a movie; you don’t have to be some kind of expert to recognize that. Just like sweeping panoramas and impeccable acting can excite visual moviegoers and impress the audience, the right track at the right time can often be the most telling thing about a film and help us to understand the people who’s story is being told.

Top Picks:

Hundred Mile City – Ocean Colour Scene

I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges

Why Did You Do It – Stretch

The Boss – James Brown

Bianca Letele

Bianca Letele currently studies Business and Marketing at the University of Edinburgh. She also happens to be PTL’s Editor of MUSIC. Bianca has aspirations of greatness however she considers herself relatively unremarkable apart from her impeccable taste in Soul and R&B. She also suffers from an addiction to Ben & Jerry’s and dim sum – side note: she is easily bribed with either.

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