A needle drop is more than just the use of a popular song in a film—it’s an affecting moment that ignites our senses, bringing the visual medium to artistic heights. “Needle Drop” is a monthly column that will explore such moments, looking at how a variety of films across genres use pre-existing songs to colour a scene.
Whether it be songs as diegetic source (music coming from within the film itself) or non-diegetic score (music that is not present within the action or story space, such as montages or credit sequences), I will be looking at how the soundtrack fits within the context of the film as a whole. Soundtrack can structure the editing and tempo of the film’s visuals, vocalise a character’s inner thoughts and emotions, conjure a particular mood, or define the time period and milieu.
“Need Drop” asks: how does this song interpret the story we are watching? What is the song’s cultural background—its artist and history—and how does that intersect with the narrative? How do the characters relate to the music that surrounds them? I aim to show how these popular songs are not picked at random, but specifically utilised to serve the story and add a deeper meaning to the visuals and narrative at hand.
by Caroline Madden
Caroline hails from the home state of her hero, Bruce Springsteen. Her favourite films include Dog Day Afternoon, Raging Bull, Inside Llewyn Davis, and The Lord of the Rings. She has an MA degree in Cinema Studies from SCAD and also appears in Fandor, Reverse Shot, Crooked Marquee, and IndieWire. You can follow her on Twitter @crolinss. Order her book Springsteen as Soundtrack here.
Categories: Needle Drop