For my money, when I think about film directors who could put together killer soundtracks, there’s John Hughes, and then everybody else. Yeah, Quentin Tarantino is up there, that man has an ear for music that fits his films like Frankenstein fits Eddie on stage, but still, it’s a close second at best. However, since John Hughes is no longer with us, that leaves quite the vacuum.
Stepping up to the plate to swing for the fences? A director some of you may have heard of, by the name of Stephen Spielberg. Yup, he of Jaws fame and a couple other fairly successful flicks. Spielberg knows a thing or two about setting the mood for a scene (or an entire film), with just the right music. Of note here is the fact that he not only dipped into the VH hit stash for his new feature, Ready Player One, he used “Jump” under the entire opening credits sequence. Think about that. The flick is a machine-gun barrage of pop culture references (including several hat tips and nods to the aforementioned John Hughes), but the whole tone of the film is set right from the opening frame, and Spielberg chose Van Halen to do the job.
Now, without any spoilers (there will be none here), Van Halen isn’t the only hard rock band on the soundtrack. Twisted Sister makes an appearance, and if you’ve even caught a few seconds of the trailer, you know that it’s a Spielberg movie about kids battling an evil goliath. So you could’ve seen “We’re Not Gonna Take It” playing behind the opening credits. Twisted Sister, Van Halen, two spectacular ’80s-era hard rock bands. You couldn’t really go wrong with either of them. But Spielberg chose Van Halen to get the ball rolling. He wanted to put people in a particular frame of mind, and, having caught the film, I understand the decision. “Jump” – the band’s biggest number one single – hit the airwaves in 1983, and the ’80s is where a lot of the film’s character development harkens back to.
If you grew up in the late ’70s, ’80s or even the early ’90s? I’d recommend checking the movie out. It’s a fun ride. It will bring back memories. It may even make you put 1984 on that turntable you’re still keeping around specifically for that old vinyl they’ll have to pry your cold, dead hands from, or that CD you refuse to take out of your Discman. Hey – Hughes and Spielberg don’t have a monopoly on pop culture references, so there.