Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Smith, Jeff. “Popular Songs and Comic Allusion in Contemporary Cinema.” In Soundtrack Available: Essays on Film and Popular Music, ed. Pamela Robertson Wojcik and Arthur Knight, 407-30. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

Modern films often use popular songs to generate comic allusions or puns that rely on audience connections to either lyrics or pop culture references. Musical irony’s cinematic history began with “film funners,” took on a less comic tone in Classical Hollywood, and regained its humorous function in New Hollywood. American Graffiti (1973) was influential on Hollywood’s use of popular music for its innovative deployment of popular songs. After American Graffiti, there was a strong economic impetus to use popular music in movies, but this does not reflect how the music is actually used. Musical puns have three primary relationships to comedy: narrative function, the relevant perceptions audiences might have of the music, and bisociative qualities.

Works: Jerry Bruckheimer (director): soundtrack to Con Air (407); George Lucas (director): soundtrack to American Graffiti (410-11, 423); Lawrence Kasdan (director): soundtrack to The Big Chill (417-20); Renny Harlin (director): soundtrack to The Long Kiss Goodnight (419-20); Lana Wachowski (director): soundtrack to Bound (420); Arlene Sanford (director): soundtrack to A Very Brady Sequel (421-22); David Mirkin (director): soundtrack to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (421-22); Wes Craven (director): soundtrack to Scream (422); Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (directors): soundtrack to The Big Lebowski (423-24); Paul Thomas Anderson (director): soundtrack to Boogie Nights (423-27).

Sources: Lynyrd Skynyrd: Sweet Home Alabama (407); Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong (songwriters) and Marvin Gaye (performer): I Heard it Through the Grapevine (417-19); The Zombies (songwriters) and Santana (performer): She’s Not There (420); Ronnie Shannon (songwriter) and Aretha Franklin (performer): I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) (420); Homer Banks, Carl Hampton, and Raymond Jackson (songwriters) and Luther Vandross (performer): If Loving You is Wrong (421-22); Blue Öyster Cult: Don’t Fear the Reaper (422); Creedence Clearwater Revival: Lookin’ Out My Back Door (423-24); Gene McDaniels (songwriter) and Roberta Flack (performer): Compared to What (424); Melanie: Brand New Key (425-26); Hot Chocolate: You Sexy Thing (426); Jeff Lynne (songwriter) and ELO (performers): Livin’ Thing (426-27); Randy Newman (songwriter) and Three Dog Night (performers): Mama Told Me Not to Come (427).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Kate Altizer

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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