Cherubic Choir

"Expensive horror films have more expensive theme tunes, like choirs of small children going, 'Aah-AAH-aah-aah-AAH-aah, I died tragically, la, la,la.'"

Children singing, giving an encouraging and positive feel to the scene. The choir is usually dominated by boy sopranos. A Cherubic Choir normally means that the good guys are in the middle of triumphing, though sometimes it just indicates we're done with the tense part. It can also imply a sort of divine endorsement of what's happening. Often a Theme Music Power-Up.

Sometimes it's Ominous Latin Chanting without the Ominous part; just put it in a major key instead of a minor. Cherubic Choirs tend to be in something other than the native language, possible as a kind of musical lorem ipsum (i.e. deliberately unintelligible to keep your focus on the sound, not on the words) and of course in keeping with the Rule of Cool.

Contrast Creepy Children Singing, where creepy songs and nursery rhymes are played in the background to add tension and fear to a scene.


Anime and Manga

  • Used heavily in The Lord of the Rings movies: for instance, when Gandalf escapes Orthanc.
  • Les Choristes is a movie about a Cherubic Choir formed by Clément Mathieu in order to Save Our Students; the choir also doubles as a way to highlight his resistantly cheerful attitude.
  • At the end of Star Wars Episode I, children sing a major-key version of the ominous Emperor's theme.
  • The "ice dance" theme from Edward Scissorhands.
  • In Batman Returns children are singing right as baby Penguin's parents are about to dump him in the sewer.
  • Used in Blood Diamond in the song "London", which features a children's choir doing a call-and-response section with the main singer. The group singing is the Kenya Boys Choir.
  • Hannibal - The choir Libera contributes to at least five out of twelve of the movie's soundtrack tracks.
  • The London Oratory School Schola has contributed to at least seven movies.
  • Empire of the Sun opens with one singing, the main character played by Christian Bale being a member of a church choir. The vocals were dubbed by an actual boy soprano.
  • Sparse but dramatic examples as the astronauts of Apollo 13 re-enter the Earth's atmosphere while the whole world watches on. More prominent after they safely splash down.
  • In the trailer for The Social Network, a Belgian young girl's choir by the name of "Scala and the Kolacny Brothers" performed a piano and choir only cover of "Creep" by Radiohead. Atmospheric, melancholic, and somewhat creepy are terms to describe it that come to mind.

Live-Action TV
  • The Wire's theme song (Tom Waits' "Down in the Hole") was sung by a different artist each season. Season 4 used a Boy's Choir, since the season's theme is the decrepit west Baltimore school system and the young men it fails to help.
  • The theme music for Mr. Bean - "Ecce homo qui est faba" or "Behold the man who is a bean."
  • Parodied on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. Ned believes that when he sees the girl who is The One, she'll have light glowing behind her, and angels will sing. Ned does see that with Moze, but it's really the kids from the music room who are waiting for Gordy to fix the lights in there. At the end, light and angelic singing appear with Moze again, but this time it's not just the kids in the music room, or lights being moved by Gordy.
  • In Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the soundtrack has this in the background when introducing Giordano Bruno and during the Dream Sequence where he imagines an infinite universe (which was one of the beliefs that would get him killed by the Inquisition). It's reused variously, often when introducing an important character at birth or childhood (like Michael Faraday) or when a religious institution comes into the picture (like the Benedictine abbey where Josef von Fraunhofer conducted his research).

  • Gustav Mahler's Third and Eighth Symphonies.
  • Subverted by Rammstein in "Spieluhr".
  • The Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" from Let It Bleed with The (London) Bach Choir.
  • The Pink Floyd song "Another Brick in the Wall" from The Wall with the Islington Green School choir.
    • Also, "Outside The Wall" from the same album, with Roger Waters speaking the lyrics over the choir.
  • The entire boychoir genre, with some of the best known examples including the Vienna Boys Choir, the Choir of Kings College Cambridge, and Libera.
  • Subverted with Yo La Tengo's cover of Sun Ra's "Nuclear War", which features a positively ecstatic choir of adorable little children yelling the chorus:
    It's a motherfucker, don't you know!
    When they push that button, yo' ass gotta go!
  • Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera opens with a choir of children singing from Mozart's The Magic Flute.
  • Anberlin's song, "*Fin" has a boys choir helping out with the finale.
  • There are several Dutch songs that use a children choir with interesting lyrics.
    • Robert Long: "Het spijt me John Lennon" (I'm sorry, John Lennon). The children do the background with wonderful lyrics such as 'murder and manslaughter' 'still children are dying'. It's actual a sort of protest song about us still doing bad stuff to other humans and ignoring the suffering of other people.
    • Piet van Vliet: "Zwarte p, witte l (Black p, white l)". It's a reference to chocolate letters. It can also be understood as black pete, white dick which is completely intentional. The children come in somewhere after the middle to take over the chorus. 'He's a black pete, but has a white l, and if you don't like it, your mother sure does' (It's difficult to translate)
    • "Bolletjes in mijn hol (Little balls up my bum)". It's about rectal drug smuggling and they're not subtle. The children take the chorus over after the middle. It translates roughly as: 'Yes I have little balls up my bum, I'm completely stuffed, whistling past the the checkpoint with my fully loaded anus'
  • Garbage's "Not Your Kind of People", featuring the daughters of two bandmembers.
  • Ride's song "I Don't Know Where It Comes From" from Carnival of Light.
  • "All Things Dull And Ugly" on Monty Python's album Monty Pythons Contractual Obligation Album is sang by a children's choir, but instead of positive things it's all about Crapsack World stuff, making the children a Creepy Children Singing.




Video Games

Western Animation
  • Played wonderfully in The Prince of Egypt, when the Exodus is occurring and the Israelites are leaving Egypt. In the musical background, groups of children are singing a song of praise to God in Hebrew.
    • The music and animation in this scene work well in sync. At the beginning of the children's choir, the Israelites are unsure, as though they cannot believe that they are indeed being delivered from their bondage. Slowly, as the tempo picks up and more voices join in, we start seeing children playing in the road. A girl offers an elderly woman a hand. Moses ends up carrying two kids who are hanging from his staff as he balances it on his shoulders. People start laughing. Some people break out drum-heads and other musical instruments. Young women start dancing. By the end of the chorus we've gone from uncertainty to jubilation.
  • The song "Once Upon a Time With Me" by Florence Warner Jones on the Once Upon a Forest soundtrack.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes has a Recurring Extra called The Awe Guy, whose sole purpose is to provide one of these at the appropriate moments.
  • James Horner employs this in The Land Before Time
    • This was used in almost all of Don Bluth's films.
  • Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The scene where Esmeralda frees Quasimodo from the torture wheel.
  • Parodied in an episode of Johnny Bravo, when Johnny sees an ad for something he just happens to need at the moment. Cut to ad. choir starts singing, cut back to Johnny, with the choir standing behind him.