How Ariana Grande ruined La La Land for me

Was Ariana Grande an inspiration for La La Land's hit soundtrack?


Here's The Introduction

This is the part of the article where I tell you that I enjoyed La La Land. I paint myself as one of those rare cinematic consumers who neither overrated nor underrated Damian Chase's musical ode to the City of Angels. It has moving moments but a slow beginning. But this isn't a film review. This is about the music.

Much of what makes La La Land compelling is the bold simplicity of its themes. Musical themes. Hidden beneath layers of minor 7ths and modulation are some pretty clear-cut melodies that indelibly imprint themselves right onto the amygdala. One such theme is from "Another Day of Sun". The opening number contains a progression and melody that is repeated throughout the film and appears as an island of pop in an ocean of jazz. It rings of familiarity, yet it's hard to place.

After seeing the film, I soon found myself humming this theme everywhere. In the shower, back alley stairwells, the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store. This melody, both pervasive and elusive, haunted my steps, longing to be connected with an identity long past. Then one day, I was making a chicken salad sandwich in the kitchen, discussing the matter with my brother (at this point it had become a matter of great importance). Suddenly, it struck me, like the scene in Jaws, when Roy Scheider's character hears the screams of the first shark attack and that weird dolly zoom thing happens on screen. Not familiar? Take a moment to refresh yourself:

Anyway, it was just like that. After days of incessant humming, trying to excavate my mind for melodic memories, a neurological wall broke open, and out of the dust, a single figure appeared.


Ariana Grande

Of course! How could I have been so deaf to the blatantly obvious? Justin Hurwitz's theme lines up with the Pre-Chorus from Grande's "Problem". Don't believe me? Let's take a listen.

First, we'll listen to Hurwitz's "Another Day of Sun Melody" as it reappears towards the end of La La Land. Listen carefully!

Catchy ain't it? Alright, now that we've got that covered, let's head on over to Ariana and take a listen to the Pre-Chorus from "Problem".

It's so clear! Justin Hurwitz was clearly listening to My Everything while composing for La La Land. I can't believe that...what? Oh, you're still unconvinced? Hmm, well, let's try them together and see what you think.

The Reveal

So what do you think? Well, I don't really care what you say, because to me, La La Land and Ariana Grande will forever be inextricably linked. And every good story needs a reveal so here it is: I love this. Far from ruining La La Land, this confluence of Teen Nick royalty and Hollywood hierarchy only serves to strengthen my love of each respective work. Yes, the title was a lie, but get used to it, this is the internet.

If you have yet to see La La Land, it's sure to stay in theaters for awhile. If you haven't heard Ariana Grande's My Everything, honestly that's impressive and I applaud your skills of evasion. At any rate, I encourage you to check out both the film and the album. If you need to hear that mash up again before embarking...well be my guest...

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