A soundtrack can make or break a movie. So many movies are greatly supported by their soundtrack, from recent blockbusters like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” to older films like “The Doom Generation” and “Top Gun.” Without the music those films used, they arguably would have been worse.
However, soundtracks often do not include heavier hits, especially those from recent movies. While some movies are made for the sole purpose of highlighting rock and metal music — “Lords of Chaos,” “Deathgasm,” etc. — more mainstream movies shy away from the inclusion of the two genres. That is a problem that desperately needs to be fixed.
A wide number of iconic movies include rock and metal. “Dazed and Confused” is one of the most prominent examples. Without the incredible rock hits, it would not be the same movie.
My favorite examples are “Jennifer’s Body” and “Heavy Metal.” While seemingly two very different movies, they both highlight the power of the heavy music soundtrack.
“Jennifer’s Body,” the 2000s horror cult classic, features several heavy songs. Ranging from pop-punk tracks “New Perspective” by Panic! At the Disco and “Teenagers” by Hayley Williams to grunge rock songs like “Violet” by Hole, there is something for everyone. The soundtrack also features heavier songs like It Dies Today’s “Sacred Heart,” which adds further to the movie.
If “Jennifer’s Body” had not included those songs, we would have lost an integral part of the 2000s vibe that the creators were going for. It also stands out significantly from the traditional horror movie soundtrack, with less cliche, sinister string instrumentals that have plagued the horror genre for years.
“Heavy Metal” is exactly what it sounds like. The animated, pulpy sci-fi fantasy anthology can be easily identified as a metal movie even without a soundtrack stuffed with rock hits, but it would be a disservice to not include them. With featured bands like Black Sabbath and Nazareth as well as Sammy Hagar’s aptly titled "Heavy Metal,” how could you go wrong?
Both movies are prime examples of how a head-banging soundtrack can add to a movie. A major issue with movies today is their soundtracks, and many of the films we see now have uninspired and boring songs playing at all times.
A prime instance of this is almost the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the “Guardians of the Galaxy” series and the most recent “Thor” movies have had good soundtracks, the other Marvel films have been forgettable. Try to think of a scene from any of the non-“Guardians” or “Thor” movies that featured a song you liked. Did you think of one? You probably could not because Marvel does not try to set its soundtracks apart. Rock and metal songs are appropriate and beneficial for these movies, so why not use songs from the genre?
Marvel movies are not the only guilty parties in this crime. So many movies could benefit from at least one heavy song on their soundtrack. Over Thanksgiving break, I watched the movie “Titane,” a sci-fi horror movie revolving around cars and metal (the material). It would be perfect to include some industrial metal bands, like Rammstein or Godflesh, on the soundtrack.
I believe the hesitancy to put heavy music on the soundtracks of movies is that the films would not be taken seriously. Most movies with rock and metal on the soundtrack are either cheesy or gimmicky, and sometimes that is not what a producer or director is going for. What credible studio would want their film to be lumped into the same category as trashy flicks like “Maximum Overdrive” or “Slaughterhouse Rock,” two decidedly bad movies?
Just because a movie has a soundtrack with a rock or metal song, it does not mean it won’t be taken seriously. 2017’s “Mandy” has a highly metal-influenced soundtrack and is still considered a modern horror gem. The ‘80s film “This is Spinal Tap” is still a widely recognizable release despite being centered around a metal band.
Producers and studios can also very easily include heavy music in a way both relevant and interesting. To go back to the previously mentioned “Barbie,” imagine if a song by a female rocker had been included on the soundtrack. Not only would it have provided a space for women in a very misogynistic musical genre, but people going to see “Barbie” who enjoy that type of music would have been included. Lita Ford or Debbie Harry would have been amazing inclusions on that soundtrack, and it would not have made audiences enjoy it less.
Ultimately, it makes sense to have at least one heavy song on a movie soundtrack. The next time you watch a movie without one, imagine it with a rock song you know that fits the vibe — it will almost certainly make you wish it was actually on the soundtrack.
Jackson McCoy is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Jackson know by emailing or tweeting him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @_jackson_mccoy_.