The Song of Summer: Movies about Music



by Shane Wilson




Every year, pop music radio clamors to find the track that will be labeled the “song of summer.” This song tends to be the most popular track over the course of the hottest months of the year–providing the soundtrack to beach days and pool parties while kids are out of school. In this grand tradition, I thought it might be nice to dip our toes into movies that feature music heavily–not just as soundtracks or the sources of biopics, but as a focal point of narrative.

High Fidelity (film) - Wikipedia
  1. High Fidelity
John Cusack plays Rob, the owner of a record store in Chicago, in this adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel by the same name. Rob is going through a tough break-up, and he breaks the fourth wall as he discusses his top five worst break-ups with the audience. Rob’s record store is a haven for music elitists with important opinions on everything related to pop music. Rob works through his feelings to a killer soundtrack that includes a heartfelt acoustic cover of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” performed by Lisa Bonet.
Blinded by the Light (2019) - IMDb
  1. Blinded by the Light
This film, based on a true story, follows Javed, a young Pakistani immigrant living in the UK during the 1980s, as he discovers The Boss. Growing up in a musical climate dominated by synthesizers and pop music, Javed feels lost and pours his teenaged frustrations into his poetry. He worries, as all young writers do, that he has nothing to say–that his voice is worthless. That’s when he discovers Bruce Springsteen, and his entire world opens up. The film captures what it feels like to be a young person who has finally discovered the musical artist that gives voice to all of the angst that comes with living life as a teenager. I can’t recommend this one enough.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rotten Tomatoes
  1. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
A secret show is being played somewhere in the city, and the only way to see it is to put the clues together in time. Nick and Norah is an indie movie about indie music, and the love story that drives the narrative is all the more beautiful because of the music that surrounds it. It’s been a while since I’ve revisited this flick. I think I might have to go back to it before summer ends.
Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage - Wikipedia
  1. Woodstock ‘99: Peace, Love, and Rage
This documentary offers an in-depth look at the 1999 iteration of Woodstock–a music festival now infamous for its gradual devolution over the course of its multi-day, multi-stage run. It was hosted on an old military base. The organizers overcharged for basic necessities. And the acts booked were not the peace and love acts of the original Woodstock. Instead, over the course of the festival, acts like Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock egged on an already angry crowd until that crowd began to riot on the festival’s final night. What were the driving forces behind the riots? This documentary attempts to find some answers, and it’s streaming on HBO Max.