November 29, 2019

Dream poppiest movie theme: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, to distinguish it as a dramedy

In the next of an ongoing series on the rise of dream-like pop music during the vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, let's have a listen to the most dream poppy movie theme of all time.

If enough of your family are Gen X-ers, you've made it a tradition to watch this movie every year at Thanksgiving -- Planes, Trains and Automobiles. This came from the all-time peak of dream pop as a mainstream phenomenon, the second half of the '80s (as detailed here). The original (also used in the movie) is from '86, while the more heavily featured instrumental remix is from '87.

"Modigliani (Requiem Mass)" by Book of Love (1987)

Although Top Gun from '86 does showcase the dream pop anthem "Take My Breath Away," its main theme is the less layered, faster-paced, melody-over-harmony rock song "Danger Zone". Planes, Trains and Automobiles also uses a dream poppy instrumental version of "Power to Believe" by the Dream Academy (1987):

Why such a dreamy soundtrack for a fast-paced comedy movie? During the action-driving scenes, they play the rollicking melody of "Red River Rock". But this movie is a dramedy, requiring those key moments of reflection, moodiness, and vulnerability. That's when you need the multiple layers of sighing and droning voices to wash over your mind and carry it away on a lazy river ride, to give it the proper tranquility to come to an epiphany.

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