Resonant pop songs have a way of making a direct appeal to our hearts and emotions in a way little else can. It’s for this very reason that so many movies, and especially movie trailers, use pop songs so aggressively; they’re looking to forge a fast connection and only a song like “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” can do that to a wide audience of purchasing Boomers or slackers.
But that power has a double edge. That very potency, when placed in a desolate or otherwise off-kilter setting, can be doubly or triply off-putting, precisely because the stated mode is so explicitly one of uplift and/or pleasure.
This is the insight that a clever YouTuber named Cecil seems to have figured out sometime in the last year. He has put together a brilliant run of videos that simply present the songs as they would sound in certain depopulated settings.
Cecil’s videos come in a few different forms. The main ones, and the best ones, play a song in a public setting that has been abandoned or is otherwise empty. So you’ve got “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears playing forlornly to an empty shopping mall, A-ha’s “Take On Me” to a different depopulated shopping mall, the Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket” playing to—guess what—an empty supermarket aisle, and so forth.
Others present songs as heard “playing from another room.” These variants make use of a bit of disembodied footage on a loop, and also are pretty good but the mall ones are better.
I want Cecil to try the trick at empty airports. That’s the move.
The videos have been making the rounds over the weekend, because human beings respond to poignancy. We’ve selected a few for you below but it’s just a portion of the whole. Enjoy.
Echo & the Bunnymen, “The Killing Moon” (playing in an empty shopping centre):
Queen and David Bowie, “Under Pressure” (playing in an empty shopping centre)
The Clash, “Lost in the Supermarket” (playing while you’re lost in the supermarket)
Tears For Fears, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (playing in an empty shopping centre)
Oingo Boingo, “Weird Science” (2am snack run)
Toto, “Africa” (playing in an empty shopping centre)
A-ha, “Take On Me” (playing in an empty shopping centre)
The Beach Boys, “God Only Knows” (playing in an abandoned mall)
Thanks to Annie Zaleski for the great find!
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
You can’t have sci-fi movies without corridors, lots and lots of corridors