We’ve all seen those videos on the internet, where a dramatic scene from a film is overdubbed with an opposite feeling song to both make us laugh, and appreciate how much influence sound has on interpretation of a motion picture. Hearing is one of our senses that we often go about subconsciously. But there is nothing subconscious about the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as once again, Marvel Studios reached into the eternal cosmos of the universe to find the most humanly galactic sounds of days gone by to illustrate a story for all to enjoy.
Come and get your fix of the third edition of the Awesome Mix, but fair warning, some spoilers could prevail…
The Guardians of the Galaxy series established itself as a bit of a cultural moment when the first film was released in 2014 and we found ourselves faced with a revitalisation of carefully selected gems from past decades. This final film in the series offers a progression in the traditional mix of tunes, spanning a greater number of different decades. This was exemplified with a fitting choice for the opening sequence single, ‘Creep – Acoustic’ by Radiohead.
Setting the Mood
Radiohead is a staple in any eclectic collection of songs. They are simply an anomaly, as there is nothing quite like it, which fits well to introduce the beginning of an impeccable origin story for the beloved character of Rocket. ‘Creep – Acoustic’ organically resonates throughout the opening scene as diegetic sound that the characters can also hear. We watch Rocket walk around briefly interacting with the other guardians, the song casting a subtle shadow over him as Thom Yorke wails about being a creep and wanting to be special. It’s quite raw and poignant as the vocals and guitar are completely isolated in this track. As we reach the crescendo, Thom belts his longest held note, and the title sequence appears right on cue. We are treated to the entire duration of the song, to set an overarching melancholic tone. The song makes the audience reflect on the feelings of our character Rocket. But more than anything, the song pays tribute to the entire movie series, referencing the emotive themes of the films, namely, belonging and finding greater purpose. A stellar selection from the folks at Marvel to include this song, and a nice pick to choose the organic acoustic version too.
Introducing our new fan favourite character
Very shortly after we had our sombre introduction, the vibes are quickly raised by a 70s rock number from Heart, ‘Crazy On You’. Rocket is laying on his bed listening to this song through his iPod when we cut to our new character blasting through space to the building intro of the song. The driving guitars quickly picking up pace to indicate tension, which is all released when the one and only Adam Warlock is introduced smashing through Rocket’s window. A following sequence of our first fight scene prevails. This song was so contrasting to the opening of the film, so it takes the audience off guard and grabs our attention like nothing else. Of course, it sets up the beginning of our plot, with Rocket getting critically injured and the Guardians having to venture out into space to find help.
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A classic road (space) trip song
Finally, we are back on the guardians’ ship and naturally, as the craft lifts off, we are treated to a stadium rock staple, Rainbow’s ‘Since You Been Gone’ which lifts the energy again as we embark on the rescue mission alongside the guardians on screen. You could feel the audience stir in their seats as they all yearned for Rocket’s absence to be short-lived. But the guardians still have the heart to introduce some lightness into the scenes, appreciating that it has been a rough emotional start to the movie, so the song choices really lift the energy as our team embarks on another galactic journey.
A fun one
Including Spacehog’s ‘In the Meantime’ is just so perfect… the spacey synth at the intro of the song makes you feel physically lighter, as if you’re floating in space too. As the song continues, we are treated to some comical relief in watching the guardians kitted up in colourful retro spacesuits descend upon a planet with low gravity, making for a playful ensemble. The song is such a fun optimistic sounding tune to pair well with what we are seeing on screen. Such an appropriate pick for the heroes to goofily float about space to!
Some Cosmic Harmony
What is a space-based movie without a Flaming Lips song? The psychedelic outfit gives many notions to universal love, connection, and eternal being, which is very fitting for a sci-fi film like Guardians of the Galaxy. We are absolutely gifted to the universal love song that is ‘Do You Realize’, which is chosen to bless our ears during the pensive moments where Quill is ruminating on the loss of his lover, Gamora. After a brief encounter with Gamora, Peter gets frustrated at the ignorance that plagues her mind. We see our Star Lord on the bridge of the ship, looking out into the cosmos as we ironically hear the lyrics “Do you realise, we’re floating in space”. It’s a grounding moment, as this song plays out the universal connection from the humble perspective of being human. It feels appropriate as it reflects on Peter’s earth origins but also the reality that change is inevitable. A realisation for both Peter and the audience. ‘Do You Realize’ is a tender song to accompany the emotions that surface during the scene. The uplifting operatic vocals, spacey synths and bright guitars really pose a special spiritual moment.
The gang gets back together
Upon the revival of our dear racoon friend, the gang is officially reunited and ready to tackle the High Evolutionary’s army. What better way to step up to the task, than a confident unapologetic hip-hop number to support the comeback moment. ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ by the Beastie Boys is chosen to play through Peter’s ear buds as he joins the guardians together, for a final hurrah. It’s a brash song with a punchy beat that strikes in time with each offensive movement our protagonists carry out. The backing track of feedback washed electric guitars really gets you feeling gung-ho, and you can’t help but get behind the triumphing sound. Slow-motion makes a bold return to cinema in this scene too, which the song contrasts nicely. It really heralds the turning point in the narrative of the film as the energy of the song helps transcend the adversity.
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A soiree into the 21st Century
At the bittersweet conclusion of the film, we see Rocket select the 2000’s folder on the iPod, and the opening bars of Florence and The Machine’s ‘Dog Days Are Over’ gently settle into the focal point of what we are hearing. The ethereal strings and light piano intro of the song, along with Florence’s angelic leading vocals produce a bittersweet feeling. TikTok is getting flooded with this song, edits of the trilogy, and reactions to the ending scene. The talk is all about how this song perfectly fits that simultaneous feeling of heartbreak while having your heart full. The song of course is emotive from the point of acknowledging those dog days, the trauma, and how those humble beginnings have now led to rejoice of ultimate hope and prosperity. We get that uplifting feeling watching our characters embrace it, including Drax, who lets his inhibitions go to feel the music and dance away with everyone else. Its euphoric and a fitting number to wrap up the emotional rollercoaster and leave the audience feeling moved.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 provided once again a masterclass in soundtrack curation, which is essentially integral to the series’ value. It is a joy to appreciate already great songs, in another capacity. That is the unique property of using existing music for other art forms, it gives the songs a new life, a new side, and ultimately new meaning. Go watch the movie and soak it all up, and then you can appreciate the music even more!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in cinemas now. Listen to the full Guardians of the Galaxy collection below!