Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Where's the music, Skins?

One of the things I was most excited about the new British import Skins finally making it to our shores, was the prospect of it's soundtrack, which has the qualities that I have a weakness for, being both edgy and inspired. As with any series that has a lot of music in it, often times as the show makes it through it's different iterations, the music licensing can get expensive, be it DVD, or international versions, and in the case with Skins, as I feared in my post last week, the first things lost in the trip over the pond was the music.

Actually, the first episode ("Tony") made it through with the music nearly intact, including all the music played at the party (especially "Totally Wired" by The Fall,) and the great scene of the gang walking home soaking wet to Brendan Benson's "Flesh and Bone." Roots Manuva's "Witness (1 Hope)" was supposed to play during the closing credits, but that's one we'll let slide, as it's obvious great efforts were at least made to at least make a good first impression. Unfortunately, it may be all downhill, musically speaking, from there.

Maybe it's because the second episode ("Cassie") is so much stronger than the first that they felt it ok to strike every single song out, replacing it with what often sounds like cheap studio knock-offs. I still enjoyed what I saw, and will keep watching, but I can't help but point out how great the episode is in it's original form. The biggest offending scene comes when Allen (the cab driver, who may be a figment of Cassie's hunger-induced imagination) plays his new favorite song for Cassie. What we're supposed to hear is Ludacris' "Move B*tch," which is pretty funny in this context (see video,) but instead we hear someone reciting Bob Marley's "Time Will Tell" over homemade beats, and it's understandably more convoluted.

Take for instance the following scene involving our protagonist Cassie. She's a little loopy from not eating and looks over the floor below hoping that Sid notices her and looks up. The scene benefits greatly from the backing music, Shuggie Otis' "Aht Uh Mi Head," with his Bill Withers-meets-Stereolab sound underscoring both Cassie's innocent soul and her paranoia:

Now take a look at the scene with replacement music. They found/commissioned a song that has nearly the same ping-pongy 70's electric drums, yet it doesn't work nearly as well without Shuggie's soulful singing and the orchestration. To be honest, if they're not going to use the original music placement, these scenes would have a lot more levity without any music at all to back it.

The next instance where music comes up is as Cassie walks away from Sid and slowly figures out that it's really her subconscious that telling her to eat, and it's supposed to be backed by The Sleepy Jackson's "This Day" (video). The music choice here, while alright, isn't as crucial as others, but when replaced with the cheap knock-off instrumental that they ended up using, I get taken out of the scene entirely. Again, it would work much better to have nothing at all instead of what's obviously music purchased on the cheap.

I'm holding out hope that there not all the music will be cut, but it's looking kind of grim so far. For the time being, though, I'll keep watching and pointing out the occasional inspired music choice that gets left in, and point out the ones we're missing out on.

More: The episode also featured music from Mogwai ("Cody") and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (cover "Right Place, Wrong Time"). See how it originally ran (video).

Previously: Skins: Teens from Across the Pond (series preview)

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