Film samples in music
I was walking to work, listening to my starred music in Spotify when Not For Want Of Trying by English band Maybeshewill came on…
The spoken word part (and in this case video clip) are from a 1976 film called Network about an ex-TV anchorman.
Hearing this got me thinking about how well the spoken word part fits in with the music. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they had the rant already chosen and wrote the song around it rather then fitting either one around the other. I thought about other songs that feature film excerpts and how it could so easily be done badly.
One of the first songs I thought of with another great film quote where it feels the song was written around the quote rather than the other way round, was Frontier Psychiatrist by Australian band The Avalanches, which features a scene from 1981 film Polyester about a mother dealing with her family.
Unlike Maybeshewill however, The Avalanches’ music is largely made up of music and film clips taken from elsewhere (their debut album is thought to have pulled music from more than 3500 records dug up by the band). Does this mean they deserve more credit? Possibly. It would certainly be more of a challenge for someone with less experience in the field.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals. We’ve all heard Scooby Snacks, we all recognise the Tarantino quotes.
Damn do they look young… Anyway, While the film quotes in this song do give it a certain something, just how well are they used? They fit the theme of the song, but they don’t really fit with the ongoing dialogue of the lyrics. Musically, they break everything down a bit for the samples to give them centre of attention. Before I say this, I need you to know that I love this song and don’t think it would be the same without the samples. The film quotes in this song are NOT well integrated and musically they feel a bit wrong. In my opinion this is a film sample done badly.
Dead Wreckoning by Aborted follows much the same trend as FLC, albeit with excerpts from American Psycho:
Patterns by Mosko is a sort of an in-between track. The music doesn’t change for the Pi sample, but at the same time, it’s not built around it.
Huge differences in musical styles, and huge differences to approach in using film samples. Is there a right or wrong way to do it? No, I wouldn’t say so, but there are certainly better and worse ways.