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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

March 07, 2006

Just what is the most manipulative record of all time?

I was just watching telly, eating fish and chips tonight because of the gas people being here, and an ad came on for some kind of children's charity, and they were using that Kate Bush song, the one I thought was about childbirth, you know the one I mean, the one that makes you cry: I know you have a little life in you yet / I know you have a lot of strength left .

Far as I know this was originally written for the John Hughes film She's Having a Baby, where it was used to incredibly powerful effect in the scene where she, you know, has a baby, but I have heard this track used many times since in other things, usually when no babies are involved at all, often when someone just dies or something.

(Trivia note: surely, you're thinking, Ms Bush was a shoo-in for the 1989 Best Original Song Academy Award? Not. That honour went to Carly Simon for "Let the River Run" in Working Girl. Ah, remember that? No, neither do I. This fact tells you all you ever need to know about the Oscars.)

John Hughes was among those most responsible for the era of the song-filled soundtrack, the shortcut to manipulating the audience's emotions. Bush wrote her song after viewing the scene in the movie: correct. But mostly they just stick on any old thing (like, hey, that Kate Bush song), because they already know it's going to work. Feeling a bit sad today? How about some Coldplay?

I don't like watching things like The OC because the insistent soundtrack of song after song often actually drowns out the words people are saying. But that's all well and good, because rather than write an actual scene of actual dialogue, it's easier to just play a song. They did it often at the end of Lost (its major flaw) and do it in ER and all kinds of other things. Need to make people cry? Play the Kate Bush one, you know the one. Not appropriate? Who cares?

That's why I love watching The Closer (currently on More4, Thursday nights), because it has a proper (and bloody excellent) soundtrack, and they don't piss you around trying to find the shortest route to your tearducts.

What other songs are over-used in attempts to send us to the tissue box?


  • This from your local Kate Bush obsessive...

    AFAIK 'This Woman's Work was not composed specifically for She's Having a Baby , having first appeared on The Sensual World albums, so that being the case it would not be Oscar-eligible.

    That Carly Simon track is actually a belter BTW, in a tacky-gated-80s-drums-tastic way...

    By Blogger patrische, at 12:30 pm  

  • What other songs are over-used in attempts to send us to the tissue box?

    "Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (a.k.a. "Iz"). It's on his "Facing Future" CD - an album which remains a compelling listen despite the bad John Denver cover and overuse of the other cover track I mentioned.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 2:03 pm  

  • Oh, and they played the Iz track at the end of the ER episode where Doctor Greene died.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 2:04 pm  

  • She's having a baby was released in 1988 (hence eligible for '89 Oscars, which are early in the following year, as we know). Sensual World was released in 1989. She's Having A Baby sountrack album was also released in 1988. I have read that Ms Bush was shown the scene in the film and asked to write a song for it, and then she also put the song on her next album.

    Yours trainspotteringly,

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 2:23 pm  

  • Hello Travis, good to hear from you.

    Yeah, now you mention it, those two songs (in various versions) are ubiquitous on soundtracks, aren't they? There should be some kind of sliding scale on the licence fee for songs, depending on how many times they've been used.

    Rob [downloading This Woman's Work as we speak, dammit]

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 3:12 pm  

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