17 August 2009

A Vampire, a Werewolf, a Ghost - Oh My, Videos!

I am a big fan of “Being Human.” There I admitted it. But of course, this is about music.

I remember the days of watching television and being shocked at hearing one of my favorite bands being played in the background of a show or commercial. It was an instant moment of, “What the hell is going on here? Did they sell out?” But in the past decade, this is becoming more and more common, but there is more to this art of using music in television than is given credit. Any show’s producer can come up with a play list of interesting music; some underground, some classics, some emerging artists, mix it all up together, and voila great music. However, this does not constitute good use.

There was a time when MTV actually played music and the radio was more willing to give indie artists more radio play without the backing of a great ole record company behind them. But times have changed, and the music industry is being caught scratching its head oblivious what to do next. But artists have decided to market themselves via licensing. It is not only great movies with great soundtracks (“Pretty in Pink,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “The Saint”) anymore; television shows are sporting out amazing soundtracks. Artists, if they are lucky enough to own their own copyright and publishing rights, are licensing their music to shows in the hope for exposure. As they cannot rely on conventional radio or MTV, and the fact that using the Internet to find music is an overwhelming process, especially new music (I know from experience, with hours wasted on fruitless searching for something that really moves me). Add the lack of traditional exposure with the broadband reality that musicians are not selling as many units, as illegal downloading is everywhere (and some bands have just decided to give away their music), licensing music for television and commercials has not only become a means of exposure, but also income. For newer bands, who are not making a killing on royalties or on live performances at small clubs, licensing can give an instant profit, ranging from $1,000 to $150,000 per song – then the deal for the DVD and soundtrack release, so that there is more profit than just airplay. So though it took me a long time to accept hearing the likes of Muse on television, I have come to understand and respect the decisions of musicians to use this venue for exposure and raising revenues.

But not all series use music well. For many producers, the use of music is just to garnish more attention and sound trendier than their trite storylines really are. But once in a while, you come across a show, like “Being Human,” that the use of music is phenomenal. Thumbs up to the producers! Each song they use in the series has a real reason for being their; they can truly mirrors the emotional state of a specific character (like when Muse’s “Showbiz” is played as Mitchell, the vampire, is trying to fight the urges to feed – “Controlling my feeling for too long, and forcing our darkest souls to unfold…”), to foreshadow the plot (like when the Smith’s “Girlfriend in a Coma” is played as Annie, the ghost, does not know what really happened when she died, but will soon learn that Owen, her fiancé, killed her – “There were times when I could have murdered her… Do you really think she’ll pull through?”), or to bring the seriousness of the moment to light, even with a touch of irony (like when the Futureheads’ “Hounds of Love” is played as George is sitting in a café with fellow werewolf, Tully, learning to be courageous and confident in matters of love – “The hounds of love are calling, I’ve been a coward and I don’t know what’s good for me…”). I can go through every song that was ever used in this series and demonstrate how perfect each song is, how every song adds to “Being Human,” and never distracts the viewer/listener. I am not saying that this is the only series that has been successful using music, but I am saying that it has been a minute since I have seen a series that is always on the spot about the music it uses. Again, thumbs up to the producers!

Below are some of the videos for songs that have appeared on the show – and one thing to note is the range in eras, genre, mood, and style in all of the music. Unfortunately I was not able to include all of the videos – some are not available as embeds from official providers (my policy), while others have never been placed on the Internet by their official providers – the fate of many great songs prior to the broadband revolution, hopefully labels and artists will go back and place their older catalogues online… someday.


Maximo Park: “Books from Boxes” from their YouTube Channel: maximorparkofficial.

The Specials: “Ghost Town” from their YouTube Channel: OfficialSpecials.

Joy Division: “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (BBC Version) from the stellarnightdotcom YouTube Channel.

Aaliyah: “More than a Woman” from the YouTube Channel AaliyahMusicVideo.

The Coral: “Secret Kiss” and “Something Inside of Me” from the deltasonicrecords YouTube Channel.

Supergrass: “St. Petersburg” from their YouTube Channel: supergrassofficial.

Arctic Monkeys: “When the Sun Goes Down” from the WarpRecords YouTube Channel.

1 comment:

  1. "Love will tear us apart" is like AWESOMENES, I played it over like 3 times!It was my first time hearing Joy Division and I really like the "arctic monkeys" ^^! and omg, I use to think the same thing a while back when I heard a song in the background of a commercial and I would be like, "omg! did they sell out???"
    For seriously!
    -Punk Rock^^!