YouTube is a great place to waste a lot of time, consuming video after video and before you know it, it’s 4am and you’re learning how to hide scratches on an old wooden dresser using a walnut.
But it was during one of these nights, lost in the black hole of YouTube videos, that I came across a great account called Every Frame a Painting, this channel creates video essays on cinema, speaking to editing, camera techniques, soundtracks and many other things, which I found extremely interesting.
One video in particular really got me thinking about how a lot of businesses and brands can fall back on the safe and known territory, where maybe they should be taking some more risks…
This video starts with asking strangers on the streets of Vancouver to sing a tune from famous film; Star Wars, the James Bond franchise, Harry Potter, (he doesn’t ask about Jurassic Park, which in my opinion is the greatest theme song of all time!). All the participants can easily remember and sing a tune from these films. They are then asked to sing a tune from any Marvel movie… and this stumps them all (with the exception of the classic Spiderman theme from the 1960’s) including me, who has seen most (if not all) of the Marvel films, lying in bed at 2am watching this video.
Why do Marvel films, the biggest movies in cinemas today, lack the kind of memorable music, soundtrack or theme songs that so many classic films have?
The video then begins to give thoughts on why this is, explaining that a lot of the music is used very predictably, for example, funny scenes are paired with funny music dictate what you should be feeling rather than challenging expectations.
That the soundtrack doesn’t encourage an emotional response, and when it does it is usually covered with dialogue or something else distracting you from feeling the emotional impact of the music.
Or the overuse of Temp Music (Temporary music). This is music, usually from another film, that the director will use to guide the tone and edit of the scene. The problem with this is that the Director can become so attached to this Temp Music that a lot of the time the composers will be asked to imitate it for the final cut of the film. This just creates a cycle of reused ideas and motifs and over time all movie soundtracks begin to sound pretty much the same, and fade into the uninspired, unoriginal and unmemorable.
The video then concludes that Marvel soundtracks aren’t bad, they’re just safe.
It follows a proven track record of movies before it, recreating bland, inoffensive, safe music, sacrificing the emotional connection that a well constructed soundtrack could access with the audience.
This thought of reusing the same ideas, “the same thing that worked for someone else will work for me just fine” can be a great place to start, but it’s likely it won’t create any memorable, unique or original experiences for your users or customers.
People tend to remember things that are unexpected, that break their usual routine and create a new experience, things that elicit an emotional response and make them feel. You probably don’t remember what you ate for dinner on this exact day a year ago, but you remember that crazy party from 5 years ago because one of your friends had too much to drink and fell into the pool.
At the end of the day Marvel movies are still one of the most successful franchises in modern cinema, so even if their soundtracks aren’t the most original, thought-provoking or expectation-challenging, they move the needle and challenge expectations in a lot of other areas that help set them apart.
Taking risks, being original and breaking expectations are things that can set your brand apart and move you into the realm of thought-leadership. So, when you’re coming up with your next marketing campaign, visual identity or creative concept, try to push things a little outside of the safe, and into the risk, where expectations are challenged and routines are disrupted.