Film & Television / Music

Setting The Scene: The Music of Smallville

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By Steven O’Connor

When I look back at Smallville I remember the awesome soundtrack and how it played a key part in each episode. The soundtrack to the series features many great artists and throughout its 10 year run, the music itself became a character in the series development. Here I have selected 10 of my favourite scenes which feature music from the soundtrack. Enjoy.

Staind – ‘So Far Away’ – Season 3, Episode 9 ‘Asylum’

This was a wonderful scene which featured a great song by one of my favourite bands. ‘So Far Away’ by Staind was the second single from the bands fourth studio album ’14 Shades of Grey’ and fit perfectly as Clark shows up to Lana’s welcome home party after she was released from hospital. Clark wasn’t sure if he would be welcome though as he felt responsible for putting Lana in the hospital in the first place. What I love about this scene is Tom Welling as Clark. Just by his facial expressions we are able to tell how sorry he was and also the moment he realises that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for him to show up. Tom is able to show what a great actor he is and not even have to speak a single word.

SR-71 – ‘Tomorrow’ – Season 2, Episode 12 ‘Insurgence’

The first single from SR-71’s second album, ‘Tomorrow’ sounded great in one of the closing scenes of one of my favourite early episodes. After Clark rescues Lionel Luthor and Martha Kent from a hostage situation at LexCorp, Lex watches on as the Kent family hugs and gets ready to go home safe and sound. Lex is clearly envious of the Kent family’s loving relationship which is something that he desires for himself but doesn’t get from his father. This was another piece of terrific acting as Michael Rosenbaum (Lex) doesn’t have to say a word but let’s the look on his face do the talking. SR-71 fills the scene beautifully as the camera pans away from Lex’s longing stare and we are left to feel the emotion that is stirring inside him.

A-Ha – ‘I Wish I Cared’ – Season 2, Episode 9 ‘Dichotic’

This scene always makes me smile. This was a terrific episode and ending it with a very nice song by Ah-A was a great touch. After Lana and Chloe both fall for the charms of guest star Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement) who plays Ian, Clark warns them that he is not what he seems and they could both be in danger. Believing his warnings to be born out of jealousy, they ignore Clark and they both run into trouble. Clark, despite being told to stay out of it, once again saves the day. This was a great scene as Clark exits The Talon with a satisfactory smile on his face after telling Lana and Chloe that he didn’t appreciate them not trusting him. ‘I Wish I Cared’ was a nice choice as Clark walks off and there is something very soothing about the song. This was a very nice scene and one of my all time favourites.

Stabbing Westward – ‘What Do I Have To Do’ – Season 1, Episode 21 ‘Tempest’

Now this is how you open a season finale. This was a fantastic scene which further fueled the competitive rivalry between Lex and his father Lionel. I still think this is the best opening scene to an episode of any show I’ve ever seen. John Glover and Michael Rosenbaum were wonderful as Lionel and Lex respectively. Playing in the background throughout the entire 3 minutes of this scene was ‘What Do I Have To Do?’ by Stabbing Westward. The band split in 2003 but contributed to Smallville more than once. The final image of Lex looking up at his father’s helicopter as lead singer Christopher Hall cries out “What Do I have To Do?” is a perfect way to describe Lex’s emotions at this moment.

Kid Rock – ‘Cold & Empty’ – Season 3, Episode 10 ‘Whisper’

This was a nice final scene to a pretty good episode. Lana struggles to tell Clark that she has met someone else and at the same time she hopes that Clark will open up to her and tell her the truth about himself. The second single from his self-titled album, Kid Rock’s piano ballad ‘Cold and Empty’ plays as Clark struggles with the choice of telling Lana everything or having to let her go. Realising that knowing his secret would only put her in danger, Clark watches as Lana drives away upset. A great song about being alone after losing love fits in perfectly as Clark knows he has no choice but to hurt Lana again.

Eva Cassidy – ‘Time After Time’ – Season 1, Episode 19 ‘Crush’

With the first season drawing to nearer to a close, this was perhaps the most moving and meaningful scene so far. The soothing sound of Eva Cassidy singing ‘Time After Time’ was a very nice addition to a funeral scene which gave a real indication that there were strong feelings between Clark and Lana. No words were spoken in a dull setting as respects were paid for Whitney’s dad in the pouring rain. Whitney was Lana’s boyfriend and by this time Lana was beginning to realise her feelings for Clark. The late Eva Cassidy’s lyrics of “If you’re lost you can look and you will find me” and “I will be waiting” were fitting as Clark and Lana’s eyes meet, while a jealous an hurt Chloe looks on. This was one of the best scenes of Smallville’s early days.

Apocalyptica – ‘I Don’t Care’ – Season 8, Episode 16 ‘Turbulence’

This episode featured a terrific final segment which sets up the final part of season 8. Finnish rock band Apocalyptica’s number 1 single ‘I Don’t Care’ plays as we see several plots take big steps in setting up the final run in for the season. Jimmy Olsen is tired of no-one believing him about Davis Bloome, after he witnessed him committing a brutal murder. Did he really witness this? Or was it his imagination as a side effect of his medication? After leaving his new wife Chloe he involves Daily Planet owner Tess Mercer as he knows her curiosity will at least make her take a look. Another great clip from this scene is Clark giving us fans a teaser as he gets ready for action with a famous phone booth scene. The best part of this closing segment was the image of Davis Bloome, standing alone in the pouring rain as struggles with the reality of who he is, or more importantly, what he is. We see the pain Davis suffers as he tries to control the monster within him and try to prevent ‘Doomsday’ from hurting anyone else. I thought that this scene was epic, especially the performance by Sam Witwer as Davis.

Vast – ‘Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me’ – Season 8, Episode 10 ‘Bride’

10 episodes into its 8th season the show was starting to get a little darker and the 10th episode ‘Bride’ was an excellent mid season cliffhanger as we witness the carnage left after Chloe and Jimmy’s wedding by the creature ‘Doomsday’. An excellent song by Vast plays as Clark vows to get Chloe back after she was taken by ‘Doomsday’. Jimmy is injured by the attack and we aren’t sure yet just how badly. The biggest cliffhanger of them all though is the image of the mysterious figure watching the wedding video and witnessing scenes of the devastation. We know this figure to be that of Lex Luthor, who at this point was presumed dead. ‘Put me inside flesh that is dying, a ghost that wanders without rest’ were very very appropriate lyrics by Vast as it appears that Lex is now back from the dead. This was a great way to set up the rest of this season to come.

Johnny Cash – ‘Hurt’ – Season 3, Episode 8 ‘Shattered’

This was one of my all time favourite episodes that ended with a sad yet very powerful scene as Lionel Luthor looks at his son who has been committed to Belle Reve mental institution. There is something very sad in Lionel’s eyes as he looks on after committing his own son, knowing that he had no choice as it was the only way he could keep a dangerous secret from being discovered. Meanwhile Clark stands over Lana’s hospital bed feeling guilty about putting her in danger again. This wonderful scene was capped off with the amazing sound of ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. I never get tired of hearing this powerful song play over such a great scene.

Peter Gabriel – I Grieve – Season 5, Episode 12 ‘Reckoning’

This was perhaps the saddest and most moving scene in all of Smallville. The snow falls on a dreary winter’s day as we witness the funeral of Jonathan Kent. The haunting sound of Peter Gabriel’s ‘I Grieve’ plays as we see Clark who is now without his father and mentor. This was an appropriate choice of song as it was written as a tool to cope with death and loss. My favourite moment in this scene is when we see Lex watching from a distance. Although Lex and Jonathan never saw eye to eye, and Lex’s friendship with Clark was now over, the sadness can be seen in Lex’s face from afar. It seems clear that all he wanted to do was just be there and support his ‘friend’ in a moment of need and I thought that was a nice touch to show that there is still a human side to Lex. I thought that this was such a touching and incredible moment and I dare you not to shed a little tear.

Want to discuss anything with Steven? Do you like his choices here? Can you think of any more? Follow him on Twitter at @St3ven91 and feel free to talk anytime.

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