"... then I'll sing in the midst of despair."
A group of people are going through a horrible time and they are about to let go of all hope and give in to panic or worse: They could be so deprived that they're losing their humanity.
But then someone starts to sing or play an instrument, a song that rises above the sounds of suffering and fear. And everyone raises their heads to listen, momentarily forgetting their suffering, remembering that there's more to life than this, that all hope is not lost, and that they're not animals. This can save the people from falling past the Despair Event Horizon
and sometimes even the Moral Event Horizon
in cases where the populace has started to turn primal, which may even put the musician's life in danger while he or she performs. The musician is the hero of this trope and is very much admired by his or her unfortunate public.
The song played will usually be the Crowning Music of Awesome
, or appropriate in some other manner. The moment will usually be a prime contender for the musician's Crowning Moment of Awesome
. It's not uncommon for it to be or be accompanied by a Tear Jerker
Compare the Theme Music Power-Up
, where a song greatly increases the power level of a specific person or group, or Survival Mantra
, which this is arguably a version of. This is pretty much what the Glamorous Wartime Singer
Anime & Manga
- Amuri in Star Ocean makes this trope a key plot point. Amuri sings "Umidorika" to encourage herself in Episode 1, and then proceeds to demolish a whole squadron of killer robots. In Episode 2 Suzu sings it for the same reason with similar results, and in Episode 3 Perrier continues the trend.
- Lacus sings for the children she takes care of during the Break The World catastrophe early in Gundam SEED Destiny.
- At the end of the first season of Gunslinger Girl, Henrietta is depressed because her handler hasn't come to watch the meteor shower with them. Triela picks her up in her arms and leads the girls in a rousing chorus of "Ode to Joy" sung in German.
- This is a major plot point in Macross 7. When people have their Spiritia drained, they become apathetic and unresponsive. The fix: listening to music from Nekki Basara. Later on, the Big Bad intends to use this effect to literally farm Spiritia to prevent the end of the universe. To Basara, this is only a secondary effect to having people to LISTEN TO HIS SONG.
- This very scene provides both the turning point, as well as the greatest Tear Jerker in Macross Frontier: the Vajra have infiltrated and overrun the civilian "islands" of the Frontier fleet, and the populace, wounded and scared and huddled in shelters, can only cry out for Ranka to assist them. But Ranka is in the midst of a horrible crisis, and the SMS squadron is pinned in the ducts as they try to get to their Valkyries. Among the despair and tragedy, Sheryl stands, even though nobody even recognizes her as the "Galactic Fairy" anymore, and she breaks into the song "Diamond Crevasse." The refugees slowly realize she's singing to them, and their panic subsides to be replaced by peaceful, if mournful, hope. It is from this moment on that Sheryl's music, which used to be high-energy, consumer-friendly rock, assumes a heartfelt indie style, bereft of the bombastic effects or budget of her previous productions. For their part, the people of Frontier embrace her deeper and tighter than ever before.
- In the first movie, Sheryl begins singing in the middle of a Vajra attack to give the people hope. It's broadcast to the entire fleet. Ranka joins for the final verse and things kick into high gear as Alto, Ozma, and Brerea fight to protect the girls.
- Honestly, the entire Macross meta-series exemplifies this trope to the nth degree- specific examples abound throughout.
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, this trope is how Lucia and the 5 other princesses give 7th princess Sara a reason to sing with them so they can defeat Gakto/Gaito. done again in the Pure season towards Villan Mikeru by singing to give him hope.(with the song Kibou no Kaneoto - love goes on).
- One Piece has Brook inspire a village of satanists, who have been attacked by members of another tribe. Playing a Badass tune on his violin, they rally to fight off their invaders.
- In Senki Zesshou Symphogear, the heroine's best friends suggests singing the school's anthem both for getting across their support to the heroine and to rally the desperate school mates.
- Sound Of The Skies opens with an Amazing Freaking Grace performance by a stranger rallying a lost little girl, who grows up to become an unlikely heroine.
- This is a major plot point in 20th Century Boys, where the protagonist, Kenji, plays his song, which inspires many people of the now Crapsack World to rise up and rebel against the Big Bad, Friend.
- Many filksongs, including Keep The Dream Alive by Steve Savitzky, are Music for Courage In Scientific Endeavor. Keep The Dream Alive, in particular, is about persisting in space exploration despite the tragic losses of Shuttles Challenger and Columbia, both with all hands.
- Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' performed this role in Manchester Lost. Sung by Archangels. To inspire people to beat Satan.
- Plays a prominent part in the end battle in Much Fall of Blood.
- In The Honor of the Queen, Honor Harrington has one of her favourite classical pieces (Hammerwell's Salute to Spring) played while her ship, the HMS Fearless, is preparing to engage Thunder of God, a vastly more powerful vessel. The Fearless was already damaged, and even undamaged it was no match for the larger and more powerful Thunder, but Honor was determined not to let the battlecruiser past her to massacre the planet she was protecting.
- In Grey Knights, a Warhammer 40,000 novel, a Sororitas begins to sing Ave Imperator (the 40k equivalent of Amazing Freaking Grace) just before a battle. The entire convent takes up the song, and they are still singing as the Grey Knights attack (misunderstanding, as a rogue inquisitor set them up). It should be noted the song is a standard chant of the Ecclesiarchy shock troops, and in context is really closer to an ecclesiastical 'jody call'- a morale raising hymn as opposed to impromptu singing.
- In the same book, the Balurian Heavy Infantry attempt a last mad charge against the Adepta Sororitas holding the Tomb of the Saint Kelkannis Evisser, as a result of a rogue Inquisitor spreading misinformation and, while doing so break into a popular boys marching song from Balur- Given that they are all running to madness, betrayal and certain death, it is really rather touching
- Double-use in First And Only. The Jantine Patricians have a number of battle-hymns that they use to rally their forces before combat. The Ghosts, in contrast, use bagpipe music - not only does it help their troops' resolve, everybody else finds it extremely creepy and unnerving.
- The Dresden Files manages to cross this with a Running Gag and usually a Crowning Moment of Awesome with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" appearing several times.
- World War Z justifies this trope. When it became clear that waiting out in the human encampments would not work, the nations of the world launched a counterattack in which the elimination of the undead was the ultimate goal. Groups of soldiers with large reserves of ammo and supplies would play music in order to attract zombies that they would systematically kill. The genius of it? The music also helped with morale. Nations played music that worked and also reflected their cultures, such as bag pipe music for the British and Iron Maiden for the Americans. (The latter was likely done due to the author's status as a huge Iron Maiden fan.)
- Lord of the Rings has this at what is probably its darkest moment, with Frodo locked in the tower of Cirith Ungol. He softly sings:
Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.
- and that's how Sam knows where to find him.
- Horatio Hornblower stages a hornpipe dance competition on his ship, while they are sailing in pursuit of a much larger, and better armed, ship in Beat to Quarters.
- The ABBA song Fernando implies this.
- In The Evangeline by Dudley Buffa, drifting castaways, who draw lots who is going to be eaten next every few days, listen to one of them playing the fiddle for hours.
- We Slay The Dragon AKA We Are the Chosen Ones by Dream Evil.
- Brush Arbour 's "Bugle Call", which is about defenders of a city being exhorted to Hold the Line against a besieging army. On another level, it could be about not losing one's faith in the face of hardship (The band is a Christian one).
- Dropkick Murphys The Gauntlet, which is about Doughboys psyching themselves up to repel a Hun charge.
- A lot of Power Metal implies this. The Dream Evil page quote is but one example.
- Les Misérables basically alternates between this and Tear Jerker. In particular, "Red and Black" and "Do You Hear the People Sing" get the revolutionaries psyched up for fighting, and "Drink With Me" keeps their spirits up when the battle isn't going so well. When Act I closes with "One Day More", even the audience is ready to go out and bust some heads.
- In The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, when the hurricane is approaching Mahagonny, Jim tells the people it is time to do away with prohibitions, and starts by leading them in singing a song. A Kangaroo Court later sentences Jim to ten years in prison for singing prohibited songs, his second worst and most popular offense.
- In Sweet Charity, Charity and Oscar sing "I'm The Bravest Individual" when they're trapped in an elevator together. It doesn't do much for them.
- Pretty much the entire point of the Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan games and its American counterpart Elite Beat Agents, especially in the final stages.
- This + The Power of Love = the following scene from Lunar: Silver Star Story: Revealing the Blue Dragon Shrine requires two lovers to stand on a pier and perform a song. Alex steps up alone to play and Luna, imprisoned in the Grindery some hundred-odd miles away, "hears" him and starts singing. The other girls imprisoned with her start to join in. Cue Tear Jerker.
- Both military orchestras and various kinds of political songs often have this effect. Note that until relatively recently musical signals was also a good way to communicate.
- Also, all those military songs they'd sing in the old days while marching or in the camp, about how righteous their cause was and how badass they were.
- A big chunk of military running cadences focus on the variety of gruesome deaths that the profession offers. Suddenly, the little pain in your legs doesn't seem so significant anymore...
- This is probably the purpose of Fanfare for the Common Man, which it fulfills very well.
- World War II, Normandy invasion. Germans are attacking a bridge which was held by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Ox and Bucks), who had captured the bridge via glider in a coup de main. Meanwhile, First Commando Regiment advances on the Germans to relive the Ox and Bucks and the 7th Parachute Battalion, who had reinforced them. After one exchange of shots, the regimental piper for 1st Commando, Billy Millin, gets up and starts to march across the bridge, playing the bagpipes. The allies redouble their efforts, and the Germans are routed, with the piper miraculously still intact. (Sufficiently memorable to receive a full panel to itself at a large D-day mural in Normandy.)
- When First Commando Jack Churchill landed on Sword Beach, Millin escaped injury despite never taking cover as he marched up the beach, playing his pipes. German defenders later swore that they didn't want to shoot at him because they thought he was completely mad.
- "(And) the band" on the Titanic famously "played on" while the ship was sinking.
- Semi-Truth in Television; who hasn't reached for their iPodnote to calm themselves down?