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Watching the new trailer for The Lone Ranger, one thought sprang to the front of my mind. No, not “Johnny Deep sounds kind of ridiculous trying to do ‘classic Tonto,'” nor “I’m not sure there’s a way to do the Lone Ranger these days that doesn’t feel somewhat dated,” but instead, “Why do we have to have this terrible rock music for a Western movie?”
If you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:
Wait until 0:52 for the entirely non-period music to kick in, and you’ll see what I mean.
Here’s the thing: I get that it’s one of those things where it’s music chosen very specifically to appeal to a particular (young, male) demographic and communicate the message that, hey, this isn’t one of those old-fashioned Westerns, we’re totally hep, you guys, but still: There’s something about the music – the way that it mixes the hard rock dynamism of the guitars and the, what, are we still calling it “electronica”…? of the beeps and cuts at 1:04-109 – that just sounds both cliched and horrifically dated nowadays; it sounds like the theme tune from Bones, which honestly sounds like nothing as much as a reminder that people who were young when the Crystal Method was new and exciting are now the kinds of people who’d rather stay in and watch Fox on a Monday night.
It’s not that I am a stickler for period authenticity when it comes to movie music, because I promise that’s not the case. But that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with trailer makers – and, worse, movie makers – thoughtlessly slapping some lazily-chosen generic electronic rock on their footage because it sounds like every other movie aimed at the same audience out there (I’m looking at you, Avengers: Soundgarden? Really? Soundgarden?!?).
Music has always been a hidden art; a well-done soundtrack can add amazing depth to a movie, just as a poorly selected mix tape can cheapen important moments and throw everything off tonally. Even thought we have grown to be more sophisticated viewers in terms of special effects and, I’d argue, narrative tricks and structure, apparently we’re a far less interesting and interested audience when it comes to the way music is used in movies… Or, at least, willing to forgive far greater sins when it comes to musical choices. I’m hardly calling for a boycott of movies with crappy music, as much as I’d like to (Hey, it’s the only way they’ll notice), but… is it too much to ask that people actually realize when they’re just hearing the same kinds of music in movies again and again, whether or not it actually makes sense for what they’re watching…?