9 Tired Topics in Film Music
We film music fans sure do love to argue. No matter the topic or time of day—on Facebook and Twitter, over brunch and over cocktails, in person or hiding behind some lame screen name—we love to air our opinions. I’m all for passion. It’s sure a helluva lot better than apathy. But some of the arguments surrounding film music have been going on for so long they’ve completely lost their effectiveness, if they ever had any to begin with.
I wish message boards and comments came with an expiration date because the following nine topics need to be recycled for “a new and fresh and exciting one, fully equipped with fire and music.” Have no fear, I’m just as guilty as the next film music fan. I have no illusions that my little corner of cyberspace will change the general direction of film music discourse. The following list is in no particular order, but if you engage in any of the following tired arguments in the future, the film music gods will cut you down with danger motifs.
The Cult of Jerry
He’s God. I get it. I like him too. But I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid or splaying myself prostrate for anyone, not even someone as talented Jerry Goldsmith.
Like vs. Hate
We’ve all seen it. Pages of message board threads and Facebook streams coagulated with pointless “I like it”/”I hate it” comments. Precisely why should I care? A monkey can press that thumbs up icon and he could probably type that eight-lettered or 104-character opinion as well. Do the opinions of complete strangers change your mind one way or the other? I’d argue that perhaps not a good friend can sway you in the opposite direction. Sharing is great, but add to the discourse with intelligent debate. Explain the basis for your appreciation (or not) of a particular score/composer. Without that explanation, you’re basically running after the lemmings in front of you plunging into the briny deep.
CD vs. Digital
Sure, I treasure my CDs as much as the next film music fan. But as the music industry changes, so must the soundtrack world. As factory CD production slows and digital production grows, expect to see more film music available only in download format. Though I have no insider knowledge or crystal ball, I predict CD production will slow to a crawl within the next decade. If/when that happens, what that means for the soundtrack business is anybody’s guess. If you’re denying yourself a particular score because of some ridiculous stance over “lossy” audio or because you can’t fit that flac file on your shelf in between LINK and THE LION IN WINTER, then you may have “collector’s curse”. Seek help immediately.
Trashing the Record Labels
Anyone who is producing soundtracks in today’s recording climate should be applauded. As has been stated in numerous threads on numerous message boards, and by actual producers and label heads, releasing soundtracks is often a losing financial proposition. If you don’t care for a particular score, don’t buy it. Money talks. Trashing the label’s choice equates to a virtual middle finger and just makes you look like a douche. However, if that’s your intended persona, have at it.
Film Order vs. Album Sequencing
I suppose if I had to choose between the two, I’m a completist who prefers to have every note written for the film in the proper order. But I also leave it up to the record label to combine cues and make creative decisions that are best for their product. If it’s a choice between having the music available or not, I’ll take it in whatever format and whatever length I can get it in. And while I may have a preference one way or the other, what good does it do to complain? None. Wait a few years and someone will reissue the title again and the bitching can begin anew.
Trashing the Remote Control Clones
Is it from jealousy because they seemingly get all the choice scoring gigs? Or is it because you truly don’t like their music? Though there is certainly a distinct musical viewpoint to Zimmer & Co., not everyone who has gone through the RC training grounds is cut from the same cloth. Unless you’re a film composer working in the trenches, I don’t see much of a valid platform upon which to bitch. This is the preferred sound of today’s filmmakers and it’s a cycle that will eventually run its course. Either way, be careful what you wish for. Who knows what the future will bring…
Film Music Today Sucks
Seriously, does it really? Out of the hundreds of movies released every year, you can’t find anything in today’s film music to appreciate? I found at least ten from 2012 and I bet you can too. Perhaps it’s time to focus on the more positive aspects of the current crop of film music. History has a way of separating the wheat from the chaff and it will happen with or without our vocal participation.
They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore
Of course not! Why would you want them to? I don’t want a Bond score today to sound like John Barry. That’s pastiche. I don’t even want John Williams sounding like 1970s/80s JW. If either of those examples (and countless others) are appropriate for a particular film, great. Ultimately, I want the composer to have a vision that he executes to the best of his ability, no matter the style. If I want to hear a score from when they did write ’em like “that,” I think I can find one or two.
Negative S*** Like This Post
Geez, Lochner, perhaps you should heed your own words, “focus on the more positive aspects” of film music and find a less depressing topic for next month.