Thursday, May 22, 2014

Question for the Week of May 19-25: Best Diegetic Song

What's the best - or your favorite - in-movie song?
"Diegetic" is a great word that was taught to me by an online friend. Basically, a diegetic song is a tune that the audience hears because the fictitious people in the movie are listening to it. Non-diegetic tracks are the ones only the audience hears because the music is part of the film's soundtrack.

Now, I'm sure lots of people have different opinions on this one. Some may favor a corny scene like "Great Balls of Fire" in Top Gun. Sociopaths might mention "Stuck in the Middle with You" from Reservoir Dogs. I would favor something like "I Got You Babe" in Groundhog Day:

But look past films for a sec - have you ever had the radio playing when a song comes on that hits a little too close for comfort? Maybe the track is about dead loved ones and you just lost somebody, it's a breakup song and you just left a relationship, or it's about moving on and you're leaving town. These coincidences do occur, and can feel comforting or awkward...

BASEketball's driving scene, then, is not only one of the funniest bits I've ever seen on film, it perfectly captures everything about these types of moments - but with the delightfully creepy caveat that suddenly the song is way too accurate:

In my BASEketball review, I was very positive about the picture, despite its flaws. Hell, I was positive about Orgazmo, too. Regardless of how funny and clever Stone and Parker are, these men clearly have a gift for song-writing and it shows in everything they do.


  1. I dig both Baseketball and Orgazmo and yeah, those fellas do have a way with musical words there! So hoping that their Broadway show Book of Mormon becomes a film at some point in the future.

    Thanks for the definition of "diegetic song"- I did not know there was a word for that! A scene that comes to mind for me is in the TV miniseries version of Stephen King's The Stand, where Franny and Harold are playing "Don't Dream It's Over" on a record player which becomes a musical eulogy for the dead world they're now living in. That adaptation had it's flaws but quite a few good moments there.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad to have provided a bit of edutainment today. Honestly, I just wish the price of tickets would come down - or that I had a good enough reason to justify the expense.

      I've never seen any version of Stephen King's book, nor read it, though I have read at least 8 of his novels. That, however, does sound like a great use of the song. Nifty!

      I have lots of praise for BASEketball and Orgazmo. Especially the latter, which shows one guy struggling with his Mormon religion while never looking down upon his faith.

      I can't wait to review the South Park Movie. So many good songs! (and jokes)

  2. The thing that makes that BASEketball scene so great is that it's diegetic music functioning the way non-diegetic often does, like a bizarro take on the "No Easy Way Out" scene from Rocky IV (which fills 5% of the film's running time with flashback clips of the Rocky movies--including the one the audience is currently watching--plus footage of Stallone angrily shifting gears in his car).

    Anyway, on the long list of "minor movie lines that are part of my everyday speech," my tendency to occasionally sing-song "Look out ahead, there's a truck changing lanes!" might be the most embarrassing.

    1. Hahaha, DJ, that is a BRILLIANT find! Thank you! In a movie filled with excess, it was really one of the most over-the-top moments...

      And, damn, you *are* right that the song does double-duty here. The dual-function of the music just further reinforces the musical genius of Parker and Stone.

      The only thing you're wrong about is that the truck bit is freaking superb and that no one should ever feel ashamed for quoting it. Hell, it's all the better for sounding like the sort of line that *would* find its way into a tune like this.

      And if you drop those words and no one else gets it, it's up to you to reveal that it was just part of some rich guy's evil plans...


Chime in!