Music is one of the most powerful forces in modern culture. A soundtrack to life, accentuating highs and lows, elation and sorrow and providing that extra tug on the heartstrings whenever reality fails to satisfy. This knowledge of the raw power of music has been readily accepted by television; and none more so, than the creators of South Park. Yes that’s right, you might not have thought it from the opening statement, but here is the top 5 musical works by Pop Cult Assault idols; Trey Parker and Matt Stone. And just in case you were worried, of course there will be videos.
5. Baseketball – The Car Song: Everyone gets that feeling once in a while where a song comes on the radio or your mp3 player and it just perfectly sums up the feelings you have at the time. Well in this instance, the relevance of the music in Trey Parker’s car goes a little bit further than most. As well as the super-personal lyrics, the song also perfectly encapsulates that moment in all terrible films when the protagonist thinks about giving up and everything starts becoming too much and then they receive a pep talk from a wizened old man or close friend. Luckily, this protagonist had his radio on otherwise he could have missed his life affirming rallying call and the whole film would have been about forty-five minutes long!
4. South Park: The Movie – Up There: Well where to start with this one? How about that this heart wrenching ballad of loneliness and longing is sung by the devil? Or the fact that said devil is slight doppelgänger of George Michael? Or how about that the entire score for this film including such timeless classics as ‘Uncle Fucka’ and ‘Kyle’s Mom is a Big Fat Bitch’ has won numerous gongs and had been nominated for many more? In fact, if it wasn’t for Phil Collins of all people, the song ‘Blame Canada’ would have won an Oscar! For me though it is this song that stands out the most, it’s easily the most overblown (this normally constitutes greatness in my eyes) of the bunch, and the juxtaposition of Satan, and his incredibly homo-erotic dream of life above ground is just mind-blowing. You’ll think you’ve been enjoying the song though, but wait until 1:33 when Satan gets down with his bad self and takes it to the next level.
3. South Park –Somewhere, Out There: Have you ever stopped and thought to yourself: If a penis could sing, what would it sound like? I know we’ve all been stuck with this quandary but thankfully South Park yet again provide the answer. In a heartfelt duet with a runaway mouse, Mr(s) Garrison’s genetically engineered… erm…johnson opens up (gross) and showers the audience (sick) with a golden (this is too easy) voiced rendition of the ‘American Tail’ hit. Now in Disney films we’ve seen some strange duet partners, like a candlestick for example, (not really sure what happened there) but I’ve haven’t seen a penis being made to sing since that one really weird party I went to a few years back, but you don’t want to hear about that! Anyway I’m getting off topic, if you want the answer to what a penis sounds like when it sings, the answer in this instance is…slightly like Stevie Nicks.
2: South Park and Team America – Montage Song: The song so good they used it twice. I’m not sure how they do it, but Parker and Stone’s ability to completely sum up and ridicule huge sections of popular culture in a few short lines is a joy to behold, and this time their victim is the constant stream of recycled action/sport films which insist on re-using the same exhausted script over and over again and cramming it into the heads of the foolish cinema goers.
It’s got to the point where I now feel that in order to achieve anything in life like getting a new job, or learning a new language, I’m going to have to get my ass down the gym and learn some hard-hitting truths while lifting consecutively heavier weights. So here it is anyway, a toast to the hugely clichéd montage which hopefully will spell the end of the ever-present, unerring, terrible action/film script.
1: Orgazmo – Now You’re a Man: If I made a list titled greatest songs of all time, this would still be number one. From this mock-action film comes a theme tune which acknowledges the rules of tough guy film music and twists them into a hilarious blend of hyperbole, epic rock, base level humour, and pop culture satire. Also, as a little added bonus, I can’t help hearing a bit of Metallica as Trey Parker powers his way through this track. As a warning, after hearing this song, it may well be stuck in your head for the foreseeable future so remember, shouting ‘No it’s probably the titties!’ in your best James Hetfield voice, is not acceptable, unless the other person has heard the song and then they’ll just think you’re the coolest kid in town!
So that’s it, I hope you enjoy my list. I’m sure there could be quite a lot of debate around this one so any comments are welcome. Enjoy!
Well we’re nearly there; the whole nation holds their breath in anticipation for the most exciting event in Britain’s recent history. Yes the time has come, for the BBC’s montage marathon.
It started innocently enough, at the end of sporting contests to summarise the course that the tournament took and the high and lows along the way. But from these humble beginnings, the simple montage’s stature has grown to become an ever-present feature before, during and after each athletic feat.
To me it’s as if the guilty TV companies are saying that real life is no longer appealing enough for the average audience. That reality is doesn’t incorporate the excitement that the typical, reality-TV loving viewers thrive on. No, life needs to be dramatized to really get the point across, to really manufacture that sense of power and intrigue, or people might switch off!
So as we welcome the Olympic Games to London, with the BBC promising extensive coverage of every sport, athlete and queen-loving patriot exploding with national pride directly into the camera, expect to get familiar with a few of these summation traits.
Music is the key factor in making any run-of-the-mill montage into something on the scale of summer blockbuster epicness. Basically there are two options; the overblown chanting and drumming option which offers the ‘going to war’ semantic, you know, like they always do with the Welsh rugby team, or the acoustic cover of a previously famous option, you know, like they use on all those clever and heartfelt adverts where you watch someone get old in half a minute. There are a few ground rules that the editors have to follow when deciding between the two options; any rivalry or chance of violence = epic war music, individual sporting competition and lots of shots of relaxed athlete = acoustic cover. There are also the factors such as race, stature and sex; any Eastern European competitor falls into the bracket of war music as well as anyone bigger than us, whilst the majority of female athletes will get lumped into the acoustic cover category, or maybe, if they’re really lucky, the current pop song bracket, because girls love dancing and that don’t they?
If anyone can remember back to their English GCSE days then you will already be aware of our next trait. The phrase is pathetic fallacy, and it has nothing to do with erectile dysfunction. This is the montage maker’s mantra and is basically when the weather reflects the mood in a film or a book. However, in the case of montages, it can quite often be the reverse. You can often find that if there has been rain at an event (with tennis and cricket being the obvious exceptions, you can’t make a montage out of nothing , although I’m pretty sure it will be tried soon) then the mood will be set as a battle with lots of slow motion shots of bedraggled competitors and rain lashing down past a scoreboard of some kind or a symbolic piece of equipment. If the weather is sunny then everything takes on a jovial mood (despite the athlete clearly sweating their nads off) and the montage will be laden with footage of ladies in sun hats and children eating ice creams and maybe someone will have been slipped a tenner to get into a fountain somewhere, you know, to really get the message across. Even the typical British cloud, the most boring type of weather possible, gets manhandled into meaning something, usually as a sense of impending doom or loss for the home team.
So as the whole nation is plunged into a slow motion world of tears and smiles, pain and adrenaline, defeat and success, all condensed into a minute and served up with a helping of emotive music, just remember that this emotion is already there in reality, not just in this Hollywoodisation of life, created by the BBC and Sky. These feelings are being felt, in real time, in real life.
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More music variety. A simple enough statement. Not inflated by hyperbole and superlatives. Not brash or gimmicky. Just a statement, in a succinct form.
But it’s also a lie. Not a little lie. A big one.
If you’re like me, and have a job which constantly has the radio on, blasting out incessant, obtrusive crap then you’ll know how important variety is. Surely the cornerstone of any successful radio station is keeping the audience interested with a wide selection of new and old songs for them to enjoy. Heart FM agrees, even going so far as to use this as their selling point, and then unashamedly and wholeheartedly ignores it, and plays Adele, on repeat, forever.
I know Adele is huge at the moment, she’s easily Britain’s brightest star all over the world right now, selling obscene amount of records with her powerful voice and catchy songs, but just once, just one shift, please Heart, can I not hear those three songs. You know, the two about fire and, of course, the sad one.
Yes I understand how emotive that Brit’s performance was, what with the tears and everything, but surely a song might start to lose some of its power and effect when you play it every day for half a year. You know when you say a word over and over again until you can’t make sense of it anymore and it has no meaning? That’s what you’ve done to Adele, Heart FM.
So why not take a break on the Adele front for a bit? Put it down for a year or so and then bring it back in a blaze of reminiscent brilliance? Why not take a risk on something new and stop berating your valuable audience with endless repeats of everything by Rihanna, and the soulless abomination that is ‘Moves Like Jagger’.
So Heart, please take this on board, for the good of music and the future of radio. You have the power to choose what makes it big and what is forgotten. You can control popular culture, you can shape what Britain loves. You have all this but you give it all up for an easy solution. Your repetitiveness and lack of adventure convinces the audience that this is what they want to hear, and in return they ask you to play the songs over and over again until we all die from lack of excitement. You have created a horrible circle of safety and a fear of anything different that encases the nation. You have given us more music variety, in the tightest constrictions possible.
Ah well, what does it matter anyway, I’ll listen again, everyone else will listen again, Adele will make even more money and all of our diversity and imagination will drift away on the vapid airways. Sorry, turns out this was a bit of a depressing one, wasn’t it?