Over the past decade we’ve seen Netflix and streaming change film and television forever, bringing about an era of disruption, innovation and the “golden age of television”. We’ve also witnessed an exciting time for soundtracks, with music playing a pivotal role in some of the most unforgettable on-screen moments. With that in mind, we asked music supervisors to pick the syncs that stood out for them during this time….
Steven Gizicki (La La Land, Fosse/Verdon)
“Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones in Westworld S01E01 (2016)
There have been so many brilliant syncs that it’s daunting to choose just one! So I’ll just go with the first one that popped into my head – the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” as used in the first episode of Westworld. When a sync can change your entire perception of a show, that’s quite an achievement. And that’s what happened here. The tune is woven into Ramin Jjawadi’s incredible underscore. And as soon as the iconic melody began to emerge in the Old West sequence, it was a game-changer for me. It tells the viewer that things are not quite what they seem. And it told this particular viewer that the show was willing to take huge creative risks, have fun and to not always take itself too seriously. I’m always a big fan of shows and films that take existing material and create their own versions in their individual musical voice. Of course after this moment we began hearing other syncs on the piano in the saloon – like Soundgarden and Radiohead. And all those fun easter eggs helped make the show one of my favorites in recent memory.
Matt FX (Skins, Broad City)
“Happy Jack” by The Who & “She’s A Rainbow” by The Rolling Stones’ in Legion S01E01 (2017) / “Something for your M.I.N.D.” by Superorganism in Legion S03E01 (2019)
This one is actually a tie between the series premiere and the final season’s premiere episode, and a general gush.. both are so captivating in their usage of soundtrack! The series premiere does an excellent job preparing you for something weird and wild, juxtaposing tracks like The Who’s “Happy Jack” and “She’s A Rainbow” by the Stones to some brilliantly composed music echoing 70’s Italian synth stuff and early 20th century classical Stravinsky vibes (not to mention an incredible Serge Gainsbourg Bollywood set piece!) and the final season opens up with a trippy on-camera performance of Superorganism’s “Something for your M.I.N.D.”… so cool.
If you can’t tell, I’m a fanboy – would die for a chance to work with Mr. Hawley!
“Changes” (Black Sabbath cover) by Charles Bradley as the theme song for Big Mouth (2017 – present)
Such an instantly iconic theme.
RIP Charles Bradley. God bless Ozzy Osbourne. Praise be to Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, and the rest of the team.
“You’re Dead” by Norma Tanega in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
The original NZ mock-doc What We Do In The Shadows is perhaps one of my favorite films of the decade period, and easily my favorite comedy. Taika Waititi is an absolute master of balancing tone in his work and I believe much of that comes from putting a lot of thought into creative direction like music, wardrobe, and set design.. you can tell he has a lot of respect for what he’s lampooning, and that really brings the immersion factor to life. Norma Tanega’s “You’re Dead” is an absolute knock-out of an opening credits track, set to a Ken Burns-esque montage of old photographs and paintings depicting the cast as vampires throughout the centuries. Absolutely brilliant – happy to see it go on to be the theme song of the TV spinoff as well!
“Helden” by David Bowie in Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Goosebumps down my spine, tears in my eyes, clutching my girlfriend’s arm as tightly as I could in the theater. The last half an hour or so of Jojo Rabbit is one of the most powerful sequences I’ve seen in many years, and the resolution of the film set to Bowie’s German version of “Heroes” is the perfect closer to this masterpiece. Taika, Taika, Taika. You son of a bitch.
Dondrea Erauw (The New Romantic, Spinning Out)
“Slip Away” by Perfume Genius in Booksmart (2019)
When I saw this in theaters, I had the BIGGEST smile on my face during this entire pool scene. I’m so curious if this was a song they had in mind during the script stage, or if the supervisor (Bryan) sent it as an idea for the picture editor to work with… Either way, its shot, edited and cut perfectly. NO other song would have worked here. Tonally, emotionally, lyrically… Its hands down one of the best syncs I’ve seen in a long time.
“You Should See Me In a Crown” by Billie Eilish scene in Euphoria S1E05 (2019)
Super recently, I really loved the “You Should See Me In a Crown” by Billie Eilish scene in Euphoria S1E05. That and I loved ALL the music in Ramy. I’m really impressed with the music in that show.
Janesta Boudreau (Jurassic World Evolution, Planet Zoo)
“Tequila” by Button Down Brass in Baby Driver (2017)
My favourite film sync moment of the 2010s is this Baby Driver scene – syncing the audio and visuals TO the original track. Frigging genius.
In a film where it’s completely noticeable that the director was WAY into the idea of using music to help inform us about the lead character and the world in which he lives, it’s hard NOT to praise Baby Driver for its syncs. Those who notice music in film fell over themselves. Those who don’t usually notice it were left impressed. Beck played. Randy Newman played. Boards of Canada, The Damned, Run The Jewels, and Kid Koala lived beside Sam & Dave, Gwen Stefani and Golden Earring. The best sync, however, was most definitely the shoot out scene that is set against the Button Down Brass version of “Tequila”. It was a badass use of an old school song that is quite reminiscent of a Tarantino sync EXCEPT that it’s even better – since the gun blasts and extra audio and video plays with the rhythm of the song. It’s synced… to the sync. It’s simply brilliant and worth the 4 ‘pause-rewind-rewatch’ moments that I gave it the first time I watched the film.
Laura Katz (Their Finest, Hotel Mumbai)
“La Mer” by Julio Iglesias in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
I can’t say too much specifically about why I love this placement so much, because “La Mer” is used over the ending montage of the film in which so much happens and I don’t want to give anything away! This is probably my favorite movie of the last decade and part of that is all the parts working together so well, from the costumes to the music. The song has a very large quality whilst also being very cool and calm. It is impressive how well it fits over such a vast range of actions and emotions, and somehow simultaneously allows the audience to focus on what’s going on enough to understand the subtleties without any dialogue.
“Remember Me” by various artists in Coco (2017)
Not a standard synch as this was original to the film, but it’s definitely the song that gets stuck in my head the most of the last decade. I’m probably singing it in my head a least every other week for one reason or another. The way it’s performed differently across multiple scenes is so perfect. It’s poignant yet so simple and catchy.