This weekend marks the limited and VOD release of God Help the Girl, a musical from Stuart Murdoch, best known as the lead singer of Belle and Sebastian. God Help the Girl, which emerged out of a musical side project for Murdoch, follows three friends who start a band during a summer in Glasgow. It has, yes, been described as ”twee,” a word now practically synonymous with Belle and Sebastian.
Belle and Sebastian’s music—cheery melodies paired with vivid, often melancholy lyrics—often feels cinematic, thanks to the band’s knack for weaving intricate mini-stories. In that way, it makes sense that filmmakers have peppered their soundtracks with the band’s songs. So, to honor Murdoch’s own venture into filmmaking, let’s revisit some of the movie moments that his band’s wistful tunes have scored.
High Fidelity (2000)
Song: “Seymour Stein”
Scene: Dick (Todd Louiso) is playing the song at the record store when Barry (Jack Black) walks in and mocks him before putting on “Walking on Sunshine.” The scene pretty much perfectly encompasses how Belle and Sebastian detractors feel about the band. The movie is only the band’s third IMDb credit after 1998’s The Acid House and 1999’s A Room for Romeo Brass, both films made in the United Kingdom.
Song: “The State I Am In”
Scene: The song off of Belle and Sebastian’s debut album Tigermilk scores a drug- and blow job-induced hallucination involving Conan O’Brien. This is not the only Belle and Sebastian cue in the film, but there should be more in this strange Todd Solondz film. The band was tapped to write music for the film, but the collaboration ended up being rather fruitless. There is, however, a Belle and Sebastian album featuring the work that they did for the film. “Figuring out what is right can be a long, but enjoyable, process. Todd told us that the music he wanted to link some scenes should be the audio representation of a housewife stroking here favourite soap flakes box,” band member Mick Cooke wrote in the liner notes. “What ended up being right for the movie amounted to 6 minutes of music. What wasn’t right we developed, and all of it is on this LP.”
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Song: “I Don’t Love Anyone”
Scene: Andy (Anne Hathaway) hands out Miranda Priestly’s (Meryl Streep) fancy, cast-off gifts to her friends, who then proceed to taunt her when her phone rings. This is a great example of taking a song’s lyrics quite literally, but who doesn’t love anyone? Miranda? Andy, because she’s working for Miranda?
Song: “Piazza, New York Catcher”
Scene: Juno is host to two great uses of Belle and Sebastian songs, even though Kimya Dawson is the VIP of the soundtrack. Juno (Ellen Page) walking down her high school’s hallway in her Slinky shirt, the crowd parting around her, to “Piazza, New York Catcher” is one of the film’s best sequences.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Song: “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying”
Scene: The song scores a montage in which Jason Segel’s Peter is in post-coital bliss and finally enjoying his Hawaii vacation. The peppy tune matches Peter’s mood in the moment, the lyrics fit when we realize that the song is playing out of headphones belonging to Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), who is leaving after a fight with Sarah.