Sep 5, 2014
After God Help the Girl, What Indie Rock Musicals Are Coming Next?
The weekend after Labor Day is traditionally pretty dead in terms of new theatrical releases, and this year is no exception, with exactly one wide release (some Christian movie) for the poor wretches in the rest of the country. Shining like a lovingly handcrafted beacon through this fog comes God Help the Girl, the long-awaited-by-certain-nerds directorial debut of Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch. The movie’s theatrical run, which includes showtimes at the Village East this weekend and a Q&A with Murdoch on Saturday following the 7:15PM show, is the culmination of a long journey. Murdoch began playing around with the idea of writing and rewriting songs for female singers around the release of Belle and Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit back in 2006. An album of Murdoch-penned, Belle-backed, lady-sung songs under the name God Help the Girl followed in 2009; the record included several re-dos of previous B&S tunes, and was presented as the soundtrack to a musical that had not yet been produced.
A few more EPs and singles followed, and eventually Murdoch wrote and directed a feature film, combining several of the album’s narratives to follow a small group of characters. God Help the Girl, starring Emily Browning, premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and now the movie is hitting theaters (a soundtrack is also available in fine record stores). I haven’t yet seen the movie, but it seems like a potential breath of fresh air for movie musicals which increasingly are derived from Broadway shows which are increasingly derived from old movies or terrible wedding-reception playlists. If God Helps the Girl kickstarts a trend of hiring actual, current musicians to turn their obsessions (and possibly old melodies) into musicals, there are plenty more Anglo indies who could provide the goods.
Sketch of Plot: Audiences may have expected it from God Help the Girl, but this will actually be the musical that takes place entirely in a girl’s bedroom. At the thrilling climax, she opens the window and stares out wistfully.
Showstopping Number: “French Navy” will make the most lavish production number ever mounted in a 12 x 12 room.
Likelihood This Will Happen: If God Help the Girl crosses the $100 million mark, very high. If God Help the Girl crosses the $100,00 mark, medium.
Sketch of Plot: A seedy love affair doomed by age, class differences, and possibly amateur pornography.
Showstopping Number: Everyone wants it to be “Common People,” but strangely, that one is left out, and “Help the Aged,” a sequence filmed over the course of twelve years so Jarvis becomes beardier and more dissolute before our eyes, brings the house down. The DVD features test animatics of singing roaches for the scrapped “Common People” number.
Likelihood This Will Happen: The Pulp reunion is done, so it’s either this, solid but unspectacular solo albums, or DJ sets forever.
Sketch of Plot: Oh, some world-music bullshit.
Showstopping Number: None. There will be no songs from Blur, Gorillaz, the Damon Albarn Project, the Damon Albarn Experience, the Damon Albarn Marshall Tucker Band, Damon Albarn Family and Friends, or Albarn Skynyrd. There will, however, be a repurposed song by the Good, the Bad, and the Queen—allegedly, anyway, because no one knows any of those songs.
Likelihood This Will Happen: It will definitely be started, because Damon needs to toil away at something, anything, besides finishing the Blur album he started some time ago with the rest of Blur. But he may not finish it, in favor of starting several other albums, operas, and apps that force you to listen to his world music demos whenever you try to listen to a Blur song, and for the rest of that day (there is no off button).
Sketch of Plot: A long night of drinking, and the hangover starts halfway before dawn. I also like to imagine it will have a character transparently based on Eleanor Friedberger.
Showstopping Number: A torchy, slow-building version of “Eleanor, Put Your Boots On.”
Likelihood This Will Happen: In the version I’m imagining that is basically just rock star fan faction? Pretty low. Related question: will Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, and the Hives be doing summer-arena package tours in five to ten years? Subquestion: Can we hurry that up? It sounds like fun.
Sketch of Plot: It’s your classic rise-and-fall-and-rise story, except for “fall” is played by Keane and the second rise is played by Coldplay. It’s very confusing, just like telling those bands apart in real life. The important thing to remember is that it will be set in Glasgow, just like God Help the Girl.
Showstopping Number: If you thought “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” could make an extremely predictable rain-soaked production number, you’re in luck.
Likelihood This Will Happen: Honestly, out of all these, it may be the most likely to happen.
Sketch of Plot: Almost certainly something about soccer. As much as Belle and Sebastian’s gentle music belies the group’s general athleticism, Los Campesinos! has them beat for a band that sounds like punky nerds but are in fact more obsessed with soccer than you are with indie rock.
Showstopping Number: I know you’re dying for “You Throw Parties, We Throw Knives,” but sorry, Gareth is in charge now and he’s going “What Death Leaves Behind” all the way, performed entirely on a soccer field, in soccer jerseys. The rest of the movie has some heartbreak and self-harm, but a surprising amount of it takes place in that soccer field and in an adjoining pub.
Likelihood This Will Happen: Maybe if there’s a soccer strike. Do soccer strikes happen?
Sketch of Plot: Principled young man leaves low-key pop group to make even more low-key pop music on his own. It’s a lot like God Help the Girl, but with fewer characters.
Showstopping Number: A 25-minute rendition of “Up a Tree.”
Likelihood This Will Happen: I mean, several Looper albums happened, so it seems faintly plausible.