Pop Music and the Movies

Two days ago I saw the Céline Sciamma film Girlhood, a French-language film that has a memorable scene in which the main character and her three friends lip-sync and dance along to the Rihanna song “Diamonds” (you can see part of the film scene in the clip above). I found myself thinking of the French-language film Rust and Bone (2012), which uses the annoyingly feel-good song “Firework” by one of American pop music’s biggest stars, Katy Perry, and I also thought of Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Could Happen,” which I heard in the trailer for the French-Canadian film Mommy prior to watching Girlhood. Is there something about pop music, specifically English-language songs with a dance beat that are sung by women, that elevates it in the context of a country that speaks a different language? I suppose it’s easy to take pop songs for granted when you feel that other, less media-exposed, artists are writing and performing songs with greater “substance” (emotional content, themes of social importance, etc.), but it seems that these particular pop songs are able to provide catharsis for characters under various kinds of stress. So how long will it be until Lady Gaga creates the right kind of wow! moment in a Paris-set film? When can we expect a Taylor Swift song to redefine the cinematic space in Berlin? Or perhaps a Miley Cyrus track will change how we perceive Buenos Aires or Cape Town or Tokyo. Who knows what the futures of music and movies hold?

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