Droppin' All the Needles: Music Supervision

Music supervision is the process of selecting pre-recorded tracks, licensing them through legal channels, and applying them to a commercial, film, or other visual media project. I’m an ex-musician with an interest in sound design and movies, so the obvious next step was to do some of my own (during which I quickly learned that student examples of music supervision don’t exist ANYWHERE on the internet). Minus the legal stuff, of course.

The original song/cut will be on the left, and my version will be on the right.

iPod Nano (2005)

I didn’t feel that the original tune by Caesars really captured how it felt to dance to something truly infectious on your music player. I swapped it out for a song with a groove AND lyrics we ALL recognize and will (apparently) breakdance to.

Original: Jerk It Out, Caesars

My Cut: Hot in Herre, Nelly

Mad Men (2007)

Before any of my fellow ad peeps raise their pitchforks, I too am a fan of Mad Men. The show takes place in the 1960s through the early 70s, which is widely considered the Golden Age of Advertising. When we think of a “Golden Age” of ANYTHING, we tend to steer towards notions of grandiosity and an overall sense of opulence. The Quincy Jones track in my cut was released in the same time period the drama takes place in, and the genre of jazz can often have strong associations with the finer things in life.

Original: A Beautiful Mine, RJD2

My Cut: Comin' Home, Baby, Quincy Jones

The Black Phone (2021)

In the basement of The Grabber is a mysterious phone that connects his current victim to the souls of the deceased that try to help them escape. When Finney (the latest grab) realizes that he’s got to plan his escape carefully, this is where the vocals of Frankie Valli track kick in. An overarching theme in this Joe Hill story is watching and being watched: the deceased are watching Finney, The Grabber and Finney are watching each other, and the town is watching and waiting for the next grab to happen. The track is also put through a “Telephone” filter to further emphasize the symbolism of the phone itself.

My Cut: Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Joker (2019)

Arthur Fleck has had a break with reality. After committing a series of murders and taking on his Joker persona, we’re left wondering as an audience just how lucid he really is. Arthur has enough awareness to realize the absurdity of his circumstances, but he’s still trying to make the best of it despite being locked in an asylum. I opted for a sense of irony in this selection with La Vie en Rose, a song about looking at life through a romanticized, rose-colored view. The original Sinatra tune does a lot of the same thing here, but the version by Louie Armstrong is a lot calmer, leaving the watcher to really wonder just what’s up next for Arthur.

Original: That’s Life by Frank Sinatra

My Cut: La Vie en Rose by Louie Armstrong