2022: The Year Classic Alternative Music Flooded the Mainstream
Classic songs by Nirvana, Kate Bush, and The Cramps took the world by storm in 2022 thanks to being in the right show or film at the right time.
Music has had a profound impact on film and TV ever since movies began to feature sound in 1927. In addition to recorded dialogue and singing, music scores were used to enrich certain scenes and accompany stars as they danced and sang on the silver screen. By the 1950s, television became the dominant form of home entertainment and music continued to play a very important role. Wildly successful shows like I Love Lucy featured theme music that is still incredibly iconic to this day.
As time went on, popular movies and television shows began to have an influence on what people were listening to. If you heard a song in a movie or show you loved, you could probably track it down on your physical format of choice and listen to it at home. In some cases, seasoned artists reached new audiences and experienced a bit of a renaissance. The head-banging to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World, the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” playing as buildings explode at the end of Fight Club, and the heavy use of “Carry On My Wayward Son” in the show Supernatural are just a few examples.
In other cases, relatively unknown artists rose to prominence thanks to a song in a hit movie or show. Most people know The Rembrandts as the band who wrote the theme for Friends. Elliot Smith became a household name after his song “Miss Misery” was included in the Good Will Hunting soundtrack and performed live at the Oscars.
The power of music in TV and film has continued to grow and a perfectly placed song has the potential to become a cultural phenomenon. Nowadays, if you like a song in a show or movie, you can search for it online or use Siri or Shazam to tell you what it’s called and who it’s by. These songs now have the potential to go viral and create monumental social media trends. In addition to physical music sales, we can now look at streaming figures, YouTube plays, and exclusive Discogs collection data to fully understand the scope of influence these artists and songs have.
Here are three examples from 2022 that illustrate how the right song in the right show or film can reach new heights and forever define moments in pop culture.
“Something In The Way”
Featured in The Batman
“Something In The Way” by Nirvana started to experience a resurgence before The Batman was even released. The effective use of the song in the trailer helped the song become a streaming sensation in the days leading up to the film’s debut. As the script was being written, the song was used as inspiration to create a new take on Batman. This version depicts the caped crusader as a recluse who is seeking vigilante justice in order to cope with his traumatic past. Bruce Wayne’s obsession with being Batman and the gritty noir and horror elements in the trailer are perfectly matched by Kurt Cobain’s somber composition and lyrics.
According to MRC Data, the daily on-demand official US streaming totals for “Something In The Way” began to steadily climb between February 28 and March 4 (the film’s release date). A few days after the movie came out, streaming numbers jumped from 808,000 to 1.5 million in a single day. This 86% increase complements what was happening in the Discogs Database around this time. There was a 129% increase in Discogs Wantlist additions of Nevermind around the time that The Batman was released.
Nirvana’s Nevermind has been a landmark album since it came out in 1991, but seeing a deeper cut like “Something In The Way” increase its Spotify streams by 1200% in the wake of The Batman speaks to just how well the song and trailer work together. The subdued vocal delivery and haunting instruments help build the gloomy tension you’re sure to experience throughout The Batman.
“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”
by Kate Bush
Featured in Stranger Things
Once “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” was featured in Stranger Things, Kate Bush was everywhere. Every music news outlet shared the astounding figures and accomplishments that Bush experienced after her music was prominently featured in one of the biggest shows on the planet.
“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” first appears in an incredibly important scene where the character Max is possessed by the villain Vecna and finds herself trapped in his mind, moments from death. Her friends realize that one of the only ways to save her is to play her favorite song, which will open a portal back to the real world. As her body begins to float and she fights to break free from Vecna’s grasp, the refrain of “Running Up That Hill” poignantly captures the struggle of Max fighting for her life with everything she’s got.
On Discogs, there was a 1028% increase in Wantlist additions after the song was featured in the show. There was also an increase in Collection additions shortly after the release of the fourth season of Stranger Things. In June 2022, two versions of the “Running Up That Hill” single, the album Hounds Of Love, and the compilation The Whole Story were all featured on the Discogs monthly best-selling list.
With the song being played multiple times throughout the rest of the season, it’s no surprise that Kate Bush continued to experience an unprecedented response. For the first time in her career, Kate Bush secured a No. 1 spot on the Billboard’s Hot 100 Songwriters Chart. According to Spotify, Kate Bush’s streaming numbers increased by 9000% thanks to Stranger Things. As the most streamed song across the globe, the 37-year old song generated over 2.3 million dollars in streaming revenue last year. On TikTok, more than 2.5 million videos feature the song, helping the music of Kate Bush continue to reach more people than ever.
Records Featuring “Running Up That Hill”
“Goo Goo Muck”
by The Cramps
Featured in Wednesday
The Netflix series Wednesday has been smashing streaming records on the platform since it was released. It’s currently the second most streamed series behind season 4 of Stranger Things. Even if you are one of the few people that hasn’t watched the show, you’ve probably seen Wednesday Addams show off her ‘80s goth inspired dance moves to the beat of The Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.” The Cramps have been a cult favorite for decades, but all it took was one unforgettable TV scene to give them a moment in the mainstream.
Wednesday showing up at a school dance is the perfect setup. Will Wednesday show us that she has more in common with her peers than we thought? Will she terrorize them and bring the dance to a grinding halt? Instead, we see other teenagers ruin the dance, but not before Wednesday steals the show with her moves. Her gothic appearance and eye-catching choreography fit seamlessly with the dark and primal nature of The Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.”
The scene was an instant viral sensation that spread quickly across social media platforms like TikTok. TikTok videos with the hashtag #wednesdaydancing currently have over 17.6 million views. The videos are mostly people recreating the dance moves, but many of the videos also feature the song that helped make the scene.
Much like Kate Bush, The Cramps have seen a huge spike when it comes to streaming. After its inclusion in the hit series, the amount of on-demand “Goo Goo Muck” streams in the US increased by 5000% in just five days. On Spotify alone, the song has over 28 million streams and counting. Unfortunately, the publishing rights to the song aren’t owned by the band and the song was licensed for what has been referred to as “an average payment for TV use” by the rights owner.
Collection and Wantlist additions for The Cramps have remained consistent on Discogs, without any significant spikes. Since their records are not as readily available as artists like Kate Bush, impulse buys are a little harder to act on. Cramps collectors have to be fully committed and put in the effort to track down albums like Psychedelic Jungle. Even though they haven’t generated the same level of sales and streaming income that we’ve seen with Kate Bush, the world at large is a better place if there are a few more Cramps fans out there.