Music Supervision & Sync Highlights from 2020

By Vicky Bennett / GMS Administrator

This month, we had the wonderful opportunity to discover which musical moments of last year stood out to our GMS Senior and Advisory Boards.

In this feature, we review some of the brilliant Music Supervision and Syncs that brought joy and entertainment to a very tough and devastating year. Giving you, our members, a little insight into everyone’s favourite Music Sync and Supervision moments of 2020 whether that be in Film, TV, Advertising or Games!

We asked our board members the following question and below are the responses from them:

Which Music Supervision and/or Sync of 2020 stood out to you the most that you would highlight as your favourite, and why?

Duncan Smith, Vice President of GMS, & Music Supervisor at Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe:

There have been so many good scores this year, from Uncut Gems (OPN) to Watchmen (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross) & Devs (Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury).
Within videogames, there’s been The Last Of Us 2’s haunting score by Gustavo Santaolalla and on the other end of the emotional spectrum the uplifting score to Sackboy: A Big Adventure – including the joyous interactive use of ‘Uptown Funk’ in one memorable level.

However, since March I’ve really missed being able to have a good dance so the stand out use of music on screen for me has to be in the Lovers Rock episode of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe. It captures such an authentic depiction of a dancefloor; making you feel you were right there, lost in the music & with all the natural dynamics & shenanigans that a dancefloor offers, culminating with Janet Kay’s ‘Silly Games’ playing out in full followed by an impromptu accapella. At a time where having a party or losing ourselves on the dancefloor seem a million miles away this was as tantalisingly close as we could get.

Props to Ed & Abi at Leland for their Music Supervision on the series.

Rupert Hollier, Creative Director/Music Supervisor – Redfive & Co-head of Sponsorship GMS:

For me of things I’ve watched recently, it would have to be the use of “The End of the World” by Herman’s Hermits at the end of Episode 3 of The Queen’s Gambit.
The lead character Beth, is finally cementing an emotional bond with her stepmother, and they are heading off together into what they feel is a brave new world of triumphant chess fame (!) – but the lyrics hint at the uncertainty of the future, but also adds tenderness to the moment they are both living through together. Wonderful!

Ed Bailie, Director/Music Supervisor – Leland Music:

I enjoyed the melding of Devonté Hynes’ original score and his licensed Blood Orange tracks throughout We Are Who We Are (HBO)… his musical tone suits the glaze of the series so well. Great work from music supervisor Robin Urdang & director Luca Guadagnino.

Karen Elliott, VP of Music UK Warner Bros. Production:

My favourite Music Supervision moment was the film “The Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”.  The Music Supervisor was Becky Bentham.  The skill involved with the numerous on-camera numbers was huge.  The balance between the comedy and solid professional performances was brilliant.  The sessions must have been great fun.

Jacquie Perryman, Periscope Music & Media Ltd:

There were so many really great supervising jobs and music choices last year, but some music choices that stood out most for me in 2020 were in Steve McQueen’s TV series “Small Axe” (especially the first episode), supervised by Ed Bailie at Leland Music.
Also, Sarah Bridge for “The Crown”, season 4, especially the Diana sequences.
And not forgetting Maggie Philips’ fantastic work on the music selections for the TV series “Normal People”.

Ian Neil, Director of Film & TV – Sony Music:

As it happens I just watched the film Jojo Rabbit. I know it was from 2019 but I just got round to it.

The film opens up on the German version of I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles. It’s a rare occurrence to see a Beatles recording being used in film or TV and so it was a great surprise to see this use. It got me guessing what sort of fee it commanded, but moreover what a joy it was to see them license one of their recordings and for such a great film.

To see the film end with a German version of Heroes by David Bowie was the icing on the cake. All this coming from a Jew as well!

Matt Kaleda, Music Supervisor – Independent:

This one is brand new but I absolutely love it – Everything’s Better On the Beach and It’s Ready When You Are – On the Beach Holidays

Its one of the best ads I’ve ever seen I think… the cinematography, the music, the VO, the message.. certainly hits the spot for me.

Dominic Bastyra, Music Supervisor – Wake the Town:

Hands down for me the best use of music last year was in “Lovers Rock” by Steve McQueen.

I may be biased as I am a huge fan of the genre and the filmmaker but its specifically the Janet Kay “Silly Games” use throughout and, powerfully so in the acapella rendition (featuring none other than the don himself Dennis Bovell), and then even more so the “Kunte Kinte” use!
For me, the “Kunte Kinte” scene transcends anything I have seen in audiovisual for a long long time. The very soul of the film and the house party is captured at this moment.

The energy, the emotion, and the fact that the track is played in its entirety and then reloaded. I would go as far as to say it’s nigh on the perfect music use and for me makes the whole film.

Dan Neale, Managing Director – Native Music:

Two moments really stood out to me over the last year.
The use of “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams in The Queen’s Gambit really grabbed my attention. It features over a montage as the lead character competes against several of the elite chess players in her country. The song used needed to have both pace to drive things along, as well as enough tension for the challenge aspect.
This piece has a lot of pace, and really brought the montage to life because of that and as it ends on the final guitar strum there is almost a kind of western feel about it, and you sense that the character has just come through an intense battle. It was a perfect choice.
It’s also a very familiar piece but not one I have seen used a lot, so I guess it stood out for me because of that.

The other was the use of “Show Must Go On” originally by Queen as used in the Amazon Christmas TVC. Not so much for the song choice, but for the brilliant arrangement of it – it grows and builds of course, but there was a really intelligent understated approach to it, that meant it elevated rather than dwarfed the commercial.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this feature, we are delighted to hear your favourite supervision and sync moments of 2020, we only know 2021 will be sure to bring us more iconic highlights!

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