aka: Musicalus Interruptus
Doh! You threw
off my groove! Palace guard:
I'm sorry, but you've thrown off the Emperor's groove. (Old man gets thrown out of a window.) Old man:
Musicalis Interruptus is a form of Musical Gag
. A song is gearing up or getting into full swing, and something interrupts the singer, so the music abruptly stops. Heroes will interrupt villains. Villains will interupt the hero. Sidekick
types will interrupt either or both. Sometimes the singer will even interrupt himself. Occasionally used by Media Watchdogs
to allow the song to flavor the scene, but stop short of something they consider objectionable for the audience.
For added effect, there is sometimes the Record Needle Scratch
This can even happen a breath or a word before the song would've been over anyway.
Letting the Air out of the Band
is related, but not as instant. Compare The Day The Music Died
. A subtrope is No Reprise Please
. Compare Stop and Go
. See also Musical World Hypothesis
, or Left the Background Music On
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- In the Soul Society arc of Bleach, Ichigo squares off against the Chessmaster who's been playing the entire Soul Society like a cheap violin. The Theme Music Power-Up song kicks in, the audience settles in for another awesome beatdown... and Ichigo's Theme Music Power-Up cuts off suddenly as his opponent blocks Ichigo's blow with a single finger. There's a reason this person's Fan Nickname is "Captain Broken".
- School Days does this at least twice, in episodes 5 and 6, each time using previous ending themes. And it's not played for laughs, especially in episode 6, when the music stops as soon as Kotonoha reaches the school rooftop and sees Makoto making out with Sekai.
- Happens in episode 11 of Rozen Maiden. "Battle of Rose" plays whilst Shinku fights Suigintou, whom proceeds to crush her against a junk pile, cutting the music.
- Fushigi Yuugi does it in episode 34: Miaka and friends find the Shinzaho, the MacGuffin needed to summon Suzaku. The ending theme "Tokimeki no Doukasen" plays, and then...they find out they have A Shinzaho, not The Shinzaho.
- A diegetic example in Trigun, when one of a gang of marauders threatens Legato in a bar, and the jazz band continues to play through physical abuse of a captured girl and gunfire scattered around Legato. The saxophonist, one of Legato's henchmen, abruptly stops when Legato finally gives the gangster his full attention.
- Well played in an early episode of Kanon, when Yuuichi unintentionally barges in on Makoto in the bath.
- In Black Lagoon "My mother has killed me... my father is eating me... my brothers and sisters, sit under the table, picking up my bones! They'll bury them, under the cold marble stones...
- Often used in Kin-iro Mosaic, but a noticeable instance is in episode 2 when Aya ruins a poignant moment with a logical comment. And again in episode 6 when she's interrupted by Shinobu floating down the stream.
- Irresponsible Captain Tylor. After the crew of the Soyokaze escape from quarantine and declare that their Born Lucky captain must surely be alive and that they're going to rescue him, the Leitmotif that always plays when the crew starts doing something awesome is suddenly interrupted by a squad of armed guards ordering them back into detention.
Film - Animated
- In Mulan, the army is marching to its rendezvous point with other troops, singing "A Girl Worth Fighting For", a song about what they see in women (awkward for Mulan, especially since they keep shooting down her half-reasonable ideas), until they reach their destination mid-stanza and see that the whole camp has been burned to the ground, and everyone in it supposedly killed.
- The Little Mermaid has some of the funniest, a particular one being "Daughters of Triton", meant to be the singing debut of Ariel, which is interrupted when she doesn't show. Apparently mermaids don't have aquatic stage managers.
- Pumbaa's last verse in "Hakuna Matata" on The Lion King, a case of Curse Cut Short:
- In The Jungle Book, a set of vultures singing "That's What Friends Are For" stop when Shere Kahn appears and joins in.
- Kuzco's opening dance number in The Emperor's New Groove gets accidentally interrupted by an elderly man, who pays the penalty.
- Near the end of The Aristocats.
- In Peter Pan, Captain Hook shoots one of his pirates down from the rigging as he's playing the accordion and singing a stanza of the Villain Song. Smee reprimands him for it.
- Rio: The opening song "Real in Rio" is abrubtly cut short when poachers starts snatching up all the birds.
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: "You Can't Take Me" is interrupted with a gunshot that startles the title character in the middle of flailing around, trying to escape.
- The song finally gets to finish near the end of the film.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: The ''Kyle's Mom Is A Bitch" number begins grinding to an awkward halt when we see the majority of the main youth cast's expressions of horror. Then Cartman slowly catches up to why everyone stopped singing and is waving their hands excitedly when he notices Sheila (Kyle's mother) towering above him with an expression that can only be described as rage that has been slowly building, presumably for the duration of the entire song, and has reached the breaking point.
- In The Great Mouse Detective Ratigan's song "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind" is interrupted mid point when one of his henchmen Bartholomew (who's incredibly drunk) sings "To Ratigan the world's greatest rat!", this pisses off Ratigan who despises being called a rat and as punishment he feeds him to his pet cat Felicia, after a period of mourning from the other henchmen he tells them, "I trust there will be no further interruptions!" while threatening them with the bell he used to call her, they then pick up where they left off.
Film - Live Action
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the prince of swamp castle wants to break out in song but his father intentionally interrupts him every time ("And no singing!"). Eventually however, the king is unable to prevent it when it becomes a Crowd Song production number. Interestingly, the audience never does get to hear the whole song, outside of a ridiculously overextended introduction.
- Enchanted: Prince Edward starts to reprise "True Love's Kiss" during the showstopping "That's How You Know" sequence, and gets about four words out before being run over by a pack of bicyclists.
- Later, after finally finding Giselle, Edward attempts to reprise the song again, this time stopped when Giselle drops her cue.
- The Water and Power guys interrupt Tank Girl and Jet Girl as they force everyone at Liquid Silver to sing Cole Porter's "Let's Do It".
- In the movie version of Little Shop of Horrors, the reprise of "Suddenly Seymour" is interrupted (and Lampshaded) by a marketing guy... "Excuse me, pardon me, beg your pardon, If you two kids would stop singing for just a moment, I've got something I want to discuss with you."
- Also done in the original cut of the proposal, Audrey cuts the reprise short with "What am I doing here singing? I've gotta go get ready."
- Blazing Saddles - the Buddy Bizarre Number "The French Mistake" is interrupted twice: once when a dancer trips, and once when the fight comes crashing in from the Blazing Saddles set next door.
- Joe Dirt provides an interesting example where one of the characters indirectly interrupts the background music. As Joe decides to return to Silver City, Blue Oyster Cult's Burnin' For You begins to play. However, the song is interrupted when a car drives up to Joe, with Bachman-Turner Overdrive's You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet blasting from their radio. The song drowns out and eventually replaces the background music.
- Also happens in the opening to 10 Things I Hate About You. The movie starts with One Week playing, and eventually it cuts to a group of girls listening to it in their car. Then the main character drives up playing Bad Reputation, which changes to the background soong.
- The audition scene in The Producers.
- The Rocketeer. The Big Bad, Hollywood movie star Neville Sinclair, is filming a swashbuckling sword-fight scene (with the usual dramatic music playing over it) until the moment Sinclair's female co-star (a relative of the director) delivers her line in an incredibly corny manner. Sinclair's swashbuckling smile vanishes and the music comes to an instant stop.
- Attack of the Clones, when Anakin and Padme are about to kiss, then she decides not to.
- Played decidedly not for laughs in M. We never hear the killer whistle the famous climax of In The Hall of the Mountain King; he repeatedly builds up to that point and abruptly stops, usually when he's made the decision to kill his next victim. As a result, the audience associates whatever horrors happen offscreen with the unheard climax. The overall effect is downright terrifying.
- Also decidedly not played for laughs in Ran, where one battle scene starts out with silent action overlaid with a sorrowful music and then jarringly switches to the sound and fury of the battle with no music.
- 'The Skeletons of Quinto' in A Mighty Wind. After a twenty minute introduction setting the scene for the song (most of which happens off-screen), The Folksmen are about to launch into this number when they are rushed off-stage because Mitch and Mickey have finally turned up.
- In the movie 9, the song "Take It All" in the film stops abruptly about three words before the song actually finishes. This is used for dramatic effect, the director said in a commentary about it, because "there is nothing left to say".
- Another Asian movie where it's background music and not played for laughs: In Temptation of a Monk, there's a deer hunt. When the deer is hit, instead of us seeing the arrow hit the deer, it's represented by the footage of the deer slowing down and freeze-framing. When this happens, the background music slows down and, at the freeze-frame, slowly fades out.
- In Love Actually, the PM (Hugh Grant's character) starts singing and dancing all over the place, only to be interrupted by one of his associates.
- In What a Girl Wants, Colin Firth tries out his old rock-and-roll clothing, and starts playing air guitar. His fiancee interrupts him. When she goes on, he plays a final cord on his air guitar.
- At the toga party in Animal House, a whimsical folksinger (played by Stephen Bishop, who wrote and performed the movie's theme song) is strumming a wistful ballad to two young girls on the stairs. Bluto seizes the guitar and smashes it against the wall, then mutters a sheepish apology.
- In Get Smart, an orchestra is playing the "Ode to Joy" as part of a concert for the visiting President. Maxwell Smart manages to tackle the conductor and disrupt the orchestra moments before the song ends, because he's figured out that the closing notes will trigger the bomb that's hidden in the concert hall.
- A famous scene from Clue.
- In Three Idiots, the insert song played when our main characters manage to make their upperclassman's helicopter-prototype work( and they equipped it with a camera!). Cue the scene where they found said upperclassman dead body hanging on a ceiling fan
Live Action TV
- Fall Out Boy seems quite fond of this one. See "Dance, Dance", "A Little Less Sixteen Candles...", and "This Ain't A Scene, It's an Arms Race" for some good examples.
- Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, movement IV, "Intermezzo Interotto", begins with a beautiful, flowing melody that is interrupted partway through with a mocking parody of a theme from Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony, the rendering of which is hilariously insipid. Eventually the interruption putters out and the original theme resumes.
- Used at the very end of Ayreon's Rock Opera The Human Equation - just as "Me" is waking from his coma and the music is playing in all its glory, it's interrupted by a series of beeps and a voice saying that the Human Equation program is being aborted and the Dream Sequencer system is now off-line. Then another voice (probably a Forever) says that it can remember emotions.
- Happens frequently on The Beatles Anthology releases. Something will cause the band to stop playing and abort the take. This usually results in either laughter or shouting, depending on what caused it.
- The Beach Boys sessions for "Help Me Ronda" (the Today! album version) were plagued by the band's drunk manager (and father of the Wilsons), Murry Wilson constantly interrupting the takes and telling the band what to do. The band tried to record the song for well close to an hour and at points Brian Wilson gets so annoyed that he shouts at his father, reminds him of how he injured him (Murry hit Brian in the ear which is thought to have contributed to his partial deafness), tries to send him out of the room and eventually the band just give up. They were so dissatisfied with this session's recording of the song that they rerecorded it soon after as "Help Me, Rhonda" (the single version, also put on Summer Days).
- Occurs in "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream." Dylan sings the opening line "I was riding on the Mayflower," before breaking down in laughter. The recording engineer and Dylan briefly pause to laugh, then the words "Alright, take two!" are heard and Dylan starts all over again.
- The Clash's version of "Wrong 'Em Boyo" begins with a stanza of "Stagger Lee," which is interrupted by a cry of "Start all over again!" before "Wrong 'Em Boyo" proper starts.
- Stan Freberg's parody cover of "I've Got You Under My Skin," after many mishaps, abruptly ends when it reaches the word "stop."
- In J.S. Bach's "The Art of the Fugue," the final fugue is incomplete due to Author Existence Failure; many performances leave it that way.
- The ingenious Bait and Switch approach of the pirated version of the Brental Floss album "Bits of Me" is built around this very trope (except for the first track, which just contains different lyrics by Brent). Every first ten-fifteen seconds of the track is heard and is then interrupted by some nail-grinding sound effect, (or in the case of the album's engineer, who has two tracks, Letting the Air out of the Band) and goes on to either something totally random, or chastising the listener for pirating the album... or worse, BOTH. Of course, the final track even goes so far as to play all of the tracks from the album at once. No waiting. No track changing. ALL. AT. ONCE. The result is the kind of musical torture that is so great, by the end of the track, you will be reduced to a helpless, mindless vegetable, all because you pirated something that took a great amount of hard work and money to create...
- In an episode of The Goon Show in which Jim Pills is brought on to sing while Seagoon and Bloodnok are deep in thought. Naturally Mr. Pills is given a grand orchestral buildup, and just as he starts to sing Bloodnok shouts "I've got it, Seagoon, I've got it!"
- From The Burkiss Way, an Old Grey Whistle Test spoof brings us the classic delta bluesman, "Caught Short" Williamson:
"Caught Short": [plays opening riff] Well I woke up this mornin'... OoOoh!
[Music stops, sound of running feet, door slams in distance]
Whispering Bob Harris: ...Yeah, that was great, Caught Short, really great. And you can hear four hundred and fifty-seven of Caught Shorts other numbers on the new Blue Horizon single "Second Door on the Left Revisited"...
- This was one of the numerous running gags infesting The Jack Benny Show, in that Jack Benny would futilely attempt to reign in his quartet, The Sportsmen, from going crazy with their latest wacky song, by repeatedly hollering at them "WAIT A MINUTE!" Sometimes some of the cast, especially one of Mel Blanc's avatars, would join in trying to stop the Sportsmen.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has Zaphod building up a speech after landing on the planet Margrathea with Marvin cueing up "Thus Spracht Zarathrustra" until Zaphod tells him to "can it."
- Legally Blonde, "Serious": Warner sings a complete verse and chorus, then Elle begins a verse—Warner stops the music briefly, saying "I'm not finished," and sings the second verse himself.
- In that same song, Elle begins a chorus before it sinks in that Warner has just broken up with her.
Elle: ''Yes, I'll give you my haaaand! WAIT, WHAT?!
- Legally Blonde LOVES this trope, using it to varying extents in at maybe half the songs.
- "The Tony Award Song," [title of show].
- In the play Sheik, Rattle and Roll, there is a running joke involving the a character called the Lost Legionnaire attempting to sing his signature song "I'm Wandering" and continually being interrupted after the first line. He eventually gets to sing the whole thing towards the end of Act 2.
- Evil Dead: The Musical: Ed, a person who gets constantly interrupted dialogue-wise and later gets turned into "the bit-part demon" because of it, is about to break out into his own musical number, and is promptly shot by Ash.
Ash: Now you'll have a bit part. In Hell.
- Spamalot, obviously, recycles the Monty Python and the Holy Grail gag, and they also sometimes let the air out of the music. Later, during the big finale, the father comes barging in one last time, yelling "Stop that! Stop that! NO MORE BLOODY SINGING!" At which point Lancelot clonks him on the head.
- In Camelot, when Lancelot and Guinevere are having their quiet duet ("I Loved You Once In Silence"), Mordred sneaks up on them with his knights and interrupts their embrace before the end of the song.
- One scene in the Romberg and Hammerstein operetta The New Moon had the Romantic False Lead trying to sing a love song and constantly getting interrupted.
- Multiple examples occur in The Phantom of the Opera: Carlotta's rendition of "Think of Me" is interrupted when the Phantom causes a backdrop to fall behind her, and later he causes her to start croaking in the middle of an aria. The Phantom gets his own back at the show's climax, when Christine rips off his mask mid-song.
- In the sequel Love Never Dies, Gustave's scream interrupts the Phantom at the end of "The Beauty Underneath".
- In the opera The Rake's Progress, Baba the Turk's aria of rage is interrupted in the second act, when Tom pulls a wig over her face. She resumes singing it in the third act immediately after the wig is taken off.
- In Wicked's opening scene, the song accompanying Elphaba's birth gets cut off by the midwife screaming at the sight of the green-skinned infant.
- A few of Stephen Sondheim's shows tend to do that. In particular:
- In Follies, the number "Live, Laugh, Love" never reaches an ending. Ben gradually stops singing and starts ranting about his life. The chorus tries to continue the number on their own, but this only leads to a Madness Montage.
- Company has Bobby interrupt the last "Company" reprise to begin "Being Alive" (as well as the last chord of "Another Hundred People" cut short for dialogue).
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street interrupts "Poor Thing" with a Big "NO!".
- Guiseppe Zangara interrupts his own song in Assassins.
- In Carousel, after Billy dies, Julie, at Nettie's prompting, begins to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" but breaks down in tears after a few lines. Nettie takes over from her.
- The revue New Faces of 1952 (filmed as New Faces) did this as a Running Gag with the emcee singing "He Takes Me Off His Income Tax" with her every entrance, usually getting off five lines before being silenced.
- In We Will Rock You, Killer Queen starts to sing the opening verse "Don't Stop Me Now" to celebrate the defeat of The Bohemians, when she is interrupted by Commander Kashoggi, who informs her that Galileo & Scaramouche were able to escape. He, of course, pays the penalty.
- P.D.Q. Bach's oratorio The Seasonings includes a Fugue for Orchestra which begins with the first violins introducing a subject which runs on for a ridiculous 40 seconds (with a number of fakeout breakpoints) before any other instruments can join; it gets cut off soon after. A later recitative is interrupted in a different way: the text ends "but in vain, for he interrupted her, saying," but the ritornello of the following aria obliterates last syllable of this and the following cadence.
- Some productions of the stage version of Little Shop of Horrors also use this gag-Audrey dies before finishing the reprise of 'Somewhere That's Green'. It generally ruins the moment.
- In Cats, during the chorus of the Prologue ("Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats"), a man's shoe is thrown out in front of them. They stop, look at the shoe for a second, and start back up again.
- The clattering and sirens that hail Macavity's arrival cut off songs a couple of times, as well.
- During 13 Eddie starts to sing a reprise of "Hey Kendra" but Lucy cuts him off
Eddie: Hey Lucy, I've been thinking..
Lucy: Can it, Hobbit.
- It appears in "Hey Kendra" as well.
Eddie and Malcom: "Why don't you climb up here, mama
Eddie: "And rock it, rock it all night long..."
Brett: "OK, OK stop! Yeah, not gonna work!"
- In Carrie the Musical the chorus of "Dream On" is cut off by Carrie's scream.
- Cabaret: In the scene where Fraulein Schneider considers ending her engagement with Herr Schultz and he attempts to reassure her, there is a moment when he seems to be succeeding and they start a reprise of the song they sang when he proprosed — which is interrupted after a few lines by somebody throwing a brick through Herr Schultz's window, ending the song and the engagement.
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood is based on an unfinished work by Charles Dickens. It's performed as a play within a play, and during one number, the song falls apart, and after an awkward second, the theater manager announces that this was the point at which Mr Dickens "laid down his pen forever".
- A non-comedic version of this appears in Les Misérables; "A Little Fall of Rain" is cut short when Eponine dies, and Marius has to sing the last word for her.
- In the opera Street Scene, "Wrapped In A Ribbon And Tied To A Bow" seems to be building into a big ensemble dance, with Mrs. Maurrant dancing with Lippo, when her jealous husband walks in and the music dies out instantly.
- The Cat and the Fiddle has the recurring song "She Didn't Say Yes," which for one reason or another nobody gets through a full chorus of. The one time it isn't interrupted before the end is when the singer starts in the middle.
- 1776 has a pretty good subversion in "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men.
- In the middle of the number, while the congressmen are dancing between the desks, the secretary smoothly inserts himself into the lyrics as though he has to do this all the time.
Congress: Hands attached, tightly latched, everybody match...
Thomson: I have a new dispatch!
- In On the Town, Hildy deliberately interrupts the ridiculously lugubrious song "I Wish I Was Dead" in two different nightclubs.
- In The Most Happy Fella, the big hoe-down comes to an abrupt halt with Rosabella's Pregnancy Faint.
- Almost every Rhythm Game uses this, if you wind up getting a game over in the middle of a song.
- "I know, I know I've let you down. I've been a fooTROMBE OVERRIDE!"
- Explanation for those not familiar: In most Super Robot Wars games, a boss' theme song will override the individual theme songs of the player-controlled characters. Due to a programming error in Super Robot Wars Original Generation, the song "Trombe!", theme of boss-turned-ally Elzam von Branstein, will override everything, even other boss themes. This ended up becoming Memetic Mutation, and eventually official in later games featuring Elzam.
- Leonardo Medici Bundle's ship has "The Blue Danube" as its default background music. This song is being played by enormous speakers, and is the only situation in which "Trombe!" has been overridden.
- Kamille, Garrod and Loran had it in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden when they used their ultimate attacks.
- Also in Super Robot Wars K, if you fight Shinn on Stage 19, "Zips" by T.M. Revolution will override your regular themes.
- Fire Bomber also likes to do this (due to the nature of the mecha's attacks being songs). They even override the final boss theme if you use TRY AGAIN on it!
- Final Fantasy VI : Ultros plans to interrupt the opera by dropping a 4 ton weight on the lead singer's head. You manage to stop him, but during the struggle you all fall onto the stage, knocking out several important cast members. The Impresario wings it and turns the subsequent boss fight into the final act, complete with a new song.
- Another Goldfish Poop Gang example from Square's SNES days, in Chrono Trigger: mid-boss Dalton briefly grabs the spotlight by stealing your Global Airship, the "Aero-Dalton Imperial" (Epoch). After gloating for a bit, and just before he takes off, Crono's theme begins playing, until he objects and asks for something more appropriate to the situation. He gets such a song and is quite satisfied.
- Happens at least once or twice in the Ace Attorney series - the big damn "objection!" music starts playing, only to be suddenly interrupted by the prosecutor, usually simply by the protagonist seeing his counterpart with a sneaky smile on his/her face and realizing that rather than being on top of the game, he's about to be pounded big time.
- Elite Beat Agents: Being a Rhythm Game, this happens every time you get a game over. However, there's a surprisingly serious moment where it happens in the story at the end of Without A Fight when when the Agents get Taken for Granite.
- Done by accident in Rockman Exhaust: the final boss enters the room with the normal boss music playing, but it abruptly stops once he's revealed... then the real final boss music plays once he starts transforming.