Ever since the first caveman pounded his head against a hollow log after being fired from his job as Brontosaurus Operator at the quarry and liked the sound, humans have used music to express our moods. We shake our fists to rockin’ anthems sung by flamboyant front-men at sports-ball games. After a nasty break-up we weep quietly into a pillow while a cowboy yodels out every possible word that rhymes with “beer.” And we brood within a cloud of cigarette smoke that we didn’t actually inhale as a pale fellow with black eyeliner and an architecturally impressive hairstyle mumbles over a synthesized orchestra about darkness and despair.
However, music doesn’t just hold a mirror up to our emotions, it can also alter how we feel. When you’re blue, you may crank up some show-tunes to turn that frown upside down, and when you’re feeling uninspired, Inuit throat singing might be just the thing to get your gears a turnin’.
In fact, the right song at just the right moment could alter the course of a person’s life. Consider the following scenarios:
Suzie did not get to go to Hollywood, was voted off the island and evicted from the house. She sits on her bed, clutching her pillow to her chest and wonders what adventure she should embark on next. A song from her playlist streams through her headphones:
Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House) = Realizing that her dream of winning a reality show has run its course, Suzie decides to go back to college and finish her finance degree.
Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey) = Suzie takes out a loan for a nose-job and submits her application to The Bachelorette.
Carl sits in his van, nervously fondling his Zippo lighter, and eyes the vacant house across the street. After serving a dime up in the state pen, he swore his firebug days were over. But now he’s got the itch, and the full can of gas in the back is callin’ his name. The van’s radio plays a song:
Put Out The Fire (Queen) = Carl slips the Zippo into his shirt pocket and drives away. If he never again has to snuggle with a 350 pound felon called Stabby Ray, it would be too soon.
Burning Down The House (Talking Heads) = “Flame on, baby!” Carl yells as fire engulfs the house, not noticing that his sleeve is soaked with gasoline and sparks are raining down.
Leonard crouches in the bushes outside the actress’ bedroom window and peers through the half-drawn blinds. He watches as she shimmies around the room in her negligee, dancing to a song blaring through her stereo speakers:
Don’t Come Around Here No More ( Tom Petty) = Leonard sighs and crawls out of the bushes. He thought he could forgive her for taking a role in a Ben Affleck movie, but he is surprised to find out that even he has limits.
Please Don’t Go (KC & The Sunshine Band) = Enthralled with the one woman show taking place on the other side of the window, Leonard didn’t hear the actress’ Rottweiler, Bitey, stalking up behind him.
Congressman John Thomas zips his fly and stumbles out of the bathroom stall at a downtown bar. He finishes thumbing out the caption to the picture he just snapped with his phone and scrolls through his contacts, stopping at the name of the cute intern he’s been flirting with. Before he presses SEND, he hears music thumping through the wall:
Trouble (Coldplay) = Congressman Thomas suddenly has a vague recollection of some news story regarding compromising text messages and the resulting scandal. He can’t remember the details, but he figures it’s best to be safe so he deletes the picture and drops the phone in his trouser pocket.
Talk Dirty To Me (Poison) = J.T. feels a jolt of adrenaline surge through his body as he sends the picture to Kyle, the young, dark-haired intern. “Yeah, you know you want that,” he says as he primps in the mirror. Satisfied, he walks out of the bathroom directly into the immovable wall that is Marcus, Kyle’s 6’4″ bodyguard boyfriend. “This him?” Marcus asks. Kyle, standing beside him, only nods.