As you may know, I am an enthusiastic advocate for the use of music in nonfiction multimedia, including journalism.
But that doesn’t mean music can’t really screw up an otherwise decent project.
This morning I witnessed perhaps the worst use of music in a news report I’ve seen in a long time. NBC’s Today show had a piece on the second anniversary of the disappearance of poor Madeleine McCann. The piece used archival footage, home movies and interviews with the still-searching parents.
Incredibly, it also used the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” from the John Hughes teen movie “The Breakfast Club.”
This is so wrong on so many levels. How do I count the ways?
1. Because it’s so closely identified with the movie, that song evokes teen angst, the Brat Pack and the 80s. It has nothing – NOTHING – to do with a real-life tragedy involving a missing two-year-old.
2. The tune is upbeat pop – completely out of tune with the subject matter of the report.
3. Obviously the song was chosen for its title. That tie-in manages to be both too obvious — too easy — AND so completely disconnected from the subject of the report as to be nearly offensive:
Don’t you forget about me
I’ll be alone, dancing you know it baby…
Uggh. What WERE they thinking?