“What helps offset the predictable in this very predictable movie is a series of show-stopping numbers, so props to the folks who oversaw music and choreography.” – Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Full disclosure to anyone reading this, I myself helped out on this film for just under half of the process; my boss is one of those “folks who oversaw music.”
It doesn’t take a member of the music industry, though, to appreciate how much work went into the musical aspects of Pitch Perfect. Julia Michels and Julianne Jordan were the executive music producers of the film – responsible for working with the director on music selection, overseeing all the a cappella arrangements, music clearance, both pre-recording and vocal sessions during post-production, facilitating the creation of the three recorded mashups in the film, playing vital roles in the creation of the soundtrack and so much more.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been bugging people to vote for two panels that I proposed for the 2013 South by Southwest Film, Music and Interactive Festival (and hopefully come December I’ll get to tell you all that they were accepted). One of these panels is on a topic that I’ve been interested in for quite some time, The Future of The Soundtrack, and I am nerdily excited to get the chance to moderate a discussion between experts.
In my time working around and on soundtracks and various marketing initiatives for film and television, there are also certain observations I have made that I hope to debate, to get an official opinion. Until I (fingers crossed) find myself in a position to consult those supervisors and executives that I admire so much, here are my thoughts on the topic.
By Amanda DK
It seems as though the 54th Annual Grammy Awards have received more flak from the indie community this year than any other year (in my memory at least). Weren’t we all over “Grenade” by last February? Didn’t Mumford and Sons Sigh No More come out in 2009? Bon Iver for Best New Artist? For Emma, Forever Ago was released in 2008. And if the music community scoffed (mostly) anonymously into the social media ether, Justin Vernon made his reaction public.
To be honest, the music in media categories feel similar. Burlesque, Tangled and The King’s Speech all received nods during awards season last winter. The public has moved on. After this though, the only major awards show left is the Oscars, which has already caused discomfort in the music supervision world for only nominating two songs and then not inviting either to perform.
By Amanda DK
It’s not a secret that Jason Reitman loves music. His first major breakout film success also yielded a hit soundtrack that reached number #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. He is a big supporter of Los Angeles public radio station, KRCW. Not to take away from any of the amazing music supervisors who have worked on his films – Margaret Yen and Peter Afterman for Juno and Thank You For Smoking, Randall Poster for Up in the Air, and now Linda Cohen for Young Adult – but the fact that all of his films have the same musical personality is a testament to his influence on each soundtrack. Conversely however, composer Rolfe Kent has been with him for all of the above referenced films except for Juno. In all of them, the musical choices feel deliberate, even at first viewing. Songs are not jammed in where they shouldn’t be; the score enhances certain moments, but allows others to bask in the (calculated) awkward or tender silence. As a result, each song or score cue feels that much more important to the story being told.
That said, I knew to have a pen and paper on the ready as I watched Young Adult. I was both surprised and unphased by the fact that there was no musical support for the first five minutes or more of the film. It was only after Mavis decides to go back to her small, Minnesota, hometown and begins packing her bags, when a few mischeivously quirky score cues snuck in.
By Amanda DK
Every December I spend between four and six days in Vermont with my family. I like to call this time “hibernation.” It is quite fitting. The temperature drops much colder than I’m used to and I avoid human contact as much as possible. Unlike most hibernating animals, however, I am (mostly) awake. And so I use this period not only for much needed sprawling on the couch, but also to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and the one impending.
During the past few visits home to Connecticut, my big project has been to purge my childhood bedroom. Throw old clothes in bags for Goodwill, clean out desk drawers, sort through the piles and piles of photos I have collected over the years – I am constantly amazed at how much crap adolescent and teenage me managed to accumulate (Did I really need eight empty journals and two address books? Was it that important to keep the beads from when I got my hair braided in the Caribbean during spring break 1997?). Since I only make the six-hour trek east two to three times a year, I still have a ways to go on this journey.
This winter, I had only a few hours to make what little progress I could before we embarked on our annual migration up north. Rather than set to work on more nooks and crannies in my too-massive desk, it was my CD rack that caught my eye, untouched since the summer after my freshman year of college, now over seven years ago.