Yes we do enjoy other things outside of music. Yes we mostly just talk about the music that’s in those TV shows, films and games. No we don’t think we sound ridiculous for doing just that. Continuing our look back at 2022, read what music stood out for us on the big (and small) screen in 2022.
Red Rose – Looking down the list of songs used in this horror series set in Bolton, you are unlikely to be massively excited. Leaning heavily on 90s music, it features songs like ‘Insomnia’, ‘Set You Free’, ‘The Masterplan’, ‘Waltzing Along’, and ‘Barbie Girl.’ That’s a list that doesn’t feel particularly fresh or innovative in 2022, but the way this series used its soundtrack was both of those things. The music set the context of the show, the setting, the characters and their lives, the tension in the story. The eerie, otherworldly cover of ‘Barbie Girl’ stands out as the moment when the music felt most integral to the narrative. I highly recommend watching this show. Fran Slater
Blonde – Like many, I read Andrew Dominik’s Blonde as unnecessarily exploitative of Marilyn Monroe. It was a shame to feel so uneasy watching it, especially because the cinematography and music were so good. Dominik tapped past collaborators Nick Cave and Warren Ellis for the score, and the result was a beautifully ambient synth-driven affair, reminiscent of Cave’s recent album output. It even directly uses the instrumental from Ghosteen‘s ‘Bright Horses’ effectively. It was the brightest part of a disappointing film. Tom Burrows
Andor – My contribution to this category is diminished by the fact I’ve basically not watched any TV, films or played many brand new games in 2022. One thing I did watch was the fantastic Star Wars spin off series Andor. On paper the most pointless Disney+ series possible and yet somehow the best Star Wars has been since George Lucas hadn’t even imagined creating Jar Jar. The music was so key to my connection to this show too, I loved how industrial it could sound at times and how epic in scale it could at others. Nicholas Brittell doesn’t just remake music to sound like John Williams, this is his own unique style and it worked so well. Sam Atkins
The Witches of the Orient – At the heart of this is a story about a group of women volleyball players vying to be the best in the world. More broadly it showcases a critical moment in the rehabilitation of post-war Japan as they host the 1964 Olympics. But why it is on the list, is the use of music to artfully drive home the main points of the doc. With more of a show, don’t tell philosophy the soundtrack is essential to driving home the message. Whether that is the extended sequences showing repetitive training sessions that are compared both visually and aurally to industry and industrial music. Or the use of anime and superhero anthems, to show how these athletes were seen by the media . This was the most intriguingly constructed documentary I have watched in a while. Matt Paul
Elvis – My knowledge of Elvis Presley is limited to the stuff that everyone knows (the hits, the untimely demise, Graceland). So watching Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis was informative for me. Despite the film’s length (insert yearly complaint about the trend of bloated, overlong films), I enjoyed it – and unexpectedly found some gems in his late 60s output (‘In The Ghetto’, ‘If I Can Dream’). Austin Butler is sensational in the lead role, and the inclusion of real-life footage of Elvis performing ‘Unchained Melody’ a couple of months before his death is goosebump-inducing. I understand the hype now. Tom Burrows
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remastered – Well here comes my nostalgia pick. This classic game franchise has been remastered so I can run it on a current console, instead of digging out an old playstation. Not only do I get the joy of revisiting old levels like ‘School’ and go around collecting VHS tapes, I can also listen to all the old music. Somehow they’ve managed to re-license all the old music. Papa Roach and Goldfinger are back! The original versions of these games were eally important in solidifying my punk and rock obsession. But it also paved the way for rap fandom, with features from artists like A Tribe Called Quest. What surprised me though, was the playlist did not just have the classics, but they seamlessly slipped in a bunch of new tracks. These additions mesh with the vibe and soundtrack of the game, with grimey teenage rebellion at the core. So I can go from Dead Kennedys to Skepta, or Naughty By Nature to Viagra Boys. Other attempts at remastering classic games should pay attention. Matt Paul
Stray – One of the few genuinely ‘new’ games I played (and loved) in 2022 was Stray or ‘The Cat Game’ to most people. Playing as a cat in a post apocalyptic world inhabited by genuinely adorable robot people? What’s not to like? And the music was by far the most surprising part of the whole experience. It gives your journey through the Slums, the rooftops and the sewers of this technologically advanced, but lonely place such an amazing atmosphere. I love how jazzy it is in parts, while others feel more electronic and ambient. Half Life is the obvious comparison, a score where the silence is as vital as constant orchestration can be elsewhere and the balance from composer Yann van der Cruyssen is perfectly placed throughout your little cat’s journey. Sam Atkins
Sherwood – This tale of murder in a former mining town was one of the most talked about shows in the UK this year, and rightly so. It was gripping and extremely well made. But one element that might not have stood out to everyone was the use of music, particularly in regards to the traditional folk songs that were played towards the end of each episode. This was so purposeful that you know the makers have a strong meaning behind the decision, but for me it worked to anchor the modern story in a world of tradition, nostalgia, and past grievances. Maybe that’s what they wanted it to do. Either way, it added a layer to a show that was already full of them and introduced me to some great folk music at the same time. Fran Slater
The Bear – Well asides from being an amazing TV show full of tension and a handsome man wearing a cool T-Shirt. It’s jam packed full of unexpected needle drops. The opening sequence got me pumped up as ‘New Noise’ by The Refused kicks up and runs for a full minute or so. Soundtracking chaos in this barely-functioning restaurant. From there it swings from indie Hip Hop from artists like Serengeti, to Dad-Rock like Pearl Jam. The tone is perfect as it feels like an old radio In back of the kitchen. Fading in and out as they storm around making beef sandwiches. Amping up as the on-screen tension reaches boiling point. This is a must-watch TV show. But the music is the cherry on top. Matt Paul
Nope – This Jordan Peele movie is a good time. As with his prior features the music plays fundamental roles. The trope of a dystopian cover song is now present in most modern horror movies. But it’s given fresh legs here. It’s not packed full of strings or remixed in sinister ways. It is simply slowed down to give the 80s song, a sinister tone. The alien is coming! Beyond that there are plenty of great needle drops to keep your ears happy. At least when they aren’t listening to screams of fear. Matt Paul
If you’ve enjoyed our recommendations, consider buying us a coffee. Or at the very least, follow us on Twitter for more top articles in 2023.