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Record Needle Scratch
"Jonathan Morris has a dream: to be the first male Knicks City Dancer. There's only one problem...
...He's the President of the United States!"
The plot is moving at a predictable pace toward a foregone conclusion. Suddenly, something shocking happens, disrupting the action and going off somewhere totally unexpected. With the sound of a record needle pulled violently across an album, the background music
, along with everything else, comes to a screeching halt.
The question occurs: does the current generation know what that sound is supposed to be
In commercials for comedy films, this is almost always
followed by the opening of "I Got You (I Feel Good)
," which indicates that, no, this isn't a serious film after all.
Please note that if you wish to use the sound in a bit of your own, just buy (or get
) a prerecorded version. In spite of how easy it is to synthesize the sound, it's insanely hard to organically produce this noise using an actual record player.
A variant is Letting the Air out of the Band
, which happens when you cut the juice to the rotation motor without disabling the needle. Do not confuse with Musicalis Interruptus
. Compare Screeching Stop
open/close all folders
- A commercial was released by Blockbuster in 1993: "This was to be the year. Dan Marino, eleven year veteran quarterback was to surpass 290 career touchdowns, 3200 completions, and 40,000 yards..." 
- In the original Super Smash Bros. commercial costumed characters hold hands and skip across a field until the sudden needle scratch, whereupon they start pummeling each other senseless. After the scratch, however, the same music carries on ("Happy Together" by The Turtles).
- Home re-fi commercials on radio use this ad nauseum. Once they get to a pivotal point of the pitch, a record scratch is used before the announcer delves into the product in question.
Anime and Manga
- Not exactly in the story itself, but there's a record scratch in text format in the Author's Notes of the prologue for Super Paper Mario X:
From the creator who brought you Paper Mario X, the smash-hit sequel Paper Mario X 2: The Thousand-Year Door, and its worthy spin-off, Paper Luigi X, comes yet another installment- *record scratch*
- Again, not exactly in the story itself, but there's a record scratch in the trailer for Turnabout Storm: Phoenix Wright confronts an unseen witness with his usual Hot-Blooded attitude, cue an scared and intimidated Fluttershy standing in the witness stand.
- This Axis Powers Hetalia fan comic has a scratch right as Canada registers his massive Freudian Slip while talking to Ukraine.
Films — Animated
- The Lion King 1½ has Timon's mom showing Timon the savanna at sunset, explaining how "everything the light touches" (hinting at the "... is our kingdom" line from the original), cue needle scratch and Timon's mother ending with: "... belongs to someone else!".
Timon: Funny, I thought you were going in a whole different direction.
- A Running Gag involving this was cut from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, where every time a dramatic statement was made, a record scratch would be heard, only to show it to be caused by a jukebox repairman, even if the scene took place outside.
- In Toy Story 3, when Ken meets Barbie for the first time, they're happily talking ("Nice leg warmers/ascot!"), and "Dream Weaver" is playing, when Lotso (-Huggin' Bear) breaks them up [cue scratch] and says "C'mon Ken, recess don't last forever!"
- It also happens in Toy Story 2, complete with an actual record player.
- In Hoodwinked, during the "Schnitzel Song", Kirk is waltzing back to his truck with the children. As another verse is about to begin, cue a needle scratch and quick whip-pan that reveals that during this number, someone has come by Kirk's truck, emptied it of supplies, and also taken off the tires and mounted the axles on cinder blocks.
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, this is used during the closing credits when the "La Da Dee" song is cut-off for the black-and-white horror film "Brunch."
Films — Live-Action
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the first live-action film inverts this. Their sensei wants them to meditate on their first real battle (and victory), and it shows him starting to meditate, and then a Record Needle Scratch happens. Instead of it ending a song, it begins one: Tequila. Cue the eye rolling and "Oi" from Splinter, and the creation of a Funny Moment.
- The movie What a Girl Wants, where Lord Henry Dashwood plays some wild air guitar in leather pants until his fiancee walks in on him, bringing the dancing and the music to an abrupt halt.
- The very beginning of the film version of A Series of Unfortunate Events pulls this trope: it looks like you will be seeing a happy stop-motion animated tale about a little elf, but a few minutes later, when the happy elf is skipping over some rocks in the water, an abrupt record scratch is heard and the set lighting turns off:
I'm sorry to inform that this is not the movie you will be watching. The movie you are about to see is extremely unpleasant.
If you wish to see a film about a happy little elf, then I'm sure there is still plenty of seating in theatre number two. However, if you like stories about clever and reasonably attractive orphans, suspicious fires, carnivorous leeches, Italian food and secret organizations, then stay, as I retrace each and every one of the Baudelaire children's woeful steps. My name is Lemony Snicket, and it is my sad duty to document this tale.
- Stardust uses this on a couple of occasions, notably when Tristan attempts to jump aboard a coach: the music builds to heroic proportions, only to cut off when he slams into the side of said coach and falls flat on his rear.
- Attack of the Clones has a slight variant of this: when Anakin and Padmé first kiss, their Love Theme swells... and instantly fades out when Padmé hurriedly breaks the kiss.
- Taken a step further in the Rifftrax (MST) version in which one of the riffers, Kevin Murphy, makes the sound of a needle scratch just as the music cuts out.
- References to the Record Needle Scratch are one of their Running Gags, either commenting on it when it appears or commenting at a spot that 'just seems to call for one'.
- An in-universe variant occurs in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Loud music is playing at a party, then someone bumps the record player. There's a loud scratch and the music stops, just as Arthur shouts over it, "They're all idiots!"
- Fight Club has an interesting variant. The Dust Brothers included a record scratch in the score of the film. The opening theme starts out as one song, record scratch about 3 seconds in, and then a totally new song takes its place.
- About ten minutes into the movie Zoolander, the main character's best friends are trying to cheer him up with a trip to the gas station for drinks. The scene itself is very cheerful and Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" only makes the scene seem happier. The mood ends quickly and dramatically when the song fades out in a distorted fashion and all four of his friends die in a "freak gasoline fight accident."
- The end of George of the Jungle seems to be a parody of The Lion King's "presenting the next king at Pride Rock as all the animals look on" scene, until the needle scratches and Ape cuts in with a musical segment of him performing in Las Vegas.
- In The Addams Family, Gomez and Morticia are having a tragic-romantic moment, complete with kissing and French, when the music abruptly cuts off and Gomez is ordered to get the money already.
- Down with Love shows the needle automatically scooting across the record.
- The Movie Plots With A View has it too. Alfred Molina, who plays Boris Plots, is dancing to a song which plays on a record player until Brenda Blethyn appears. Plots then accidentally kicks the needle from the vinyl, making this record needle scratch sound.
- Bizarrely averted by The Matrix Revolutions. When Morpheus's team breaks into club Hel, The Merovingian shouts for silence. The scene then cuts to a DJ scratching on two turntables looking up...then hitting the "stop" button on his deck. This is noted in the Rifftrax of this film as well.
- Justified in Malibu's Most Wanted in the rap battle scene as they are using actual vinyl records, and B-rad has a problem with N-Word Privileges.
- Justified in The Shawshank Redemption: Trying to introduce a little humanity to the prison, Andy is playing opera music over the intercom. Then the brutal guard shows up and walks towards Andy, and the camera pans away as the record scratches.
- Justified in Saving Private Ryan right before a major battle. The Americans are listening to a French record while one of them translates the lyrics - then everyone hears rumbling from an incoming German tank, the record scratches and stops, and the Americans get into position.
- Played 100% straight in A Nanny For Christmas. The lead character sits down for an interview at an ad agency, relaxing Christmas-like music plays throughout. The female boss is called away from the interview and flat-out tells her that she'll make a great nanny, the music skips loudly.
- Occurs in Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood after a character proudly declares to have raped another man in prison. Cue the shocked expressions from his friends.
- An in-house example in Bedazzled (1967): we see the Devil at his London base performing routine acts of mischief - ripping the last page out of an Agatha Christie novel, hammering a crate of bananas, putting a scratch into a phonograph record...which becomes a Brick Joke as Stanley, who had sold his soul for seven wishes, is trying to seduce the girl he loves. He's playing a stirring record...which starts skipping. He's puzzled as it was brand new.
- In Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mrs. Meers brings "The Tapioca" scene to a screeching halt with a literal record needle pull.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has a variant, as the music stops when Jack gives up on kissing Angelica (director Rob Marshall even mentions the trope in the DVD Commentary).
- In The Wolverine when the long-haired, bearded Logan is presented to Yashida's servants, the background music stops with this.
- In-movie example in Hairspray as a terrified Mrs. Pingleton bursts into Motormouth Maybelle's record store to grab her daughter away, and yanks the needle off a record.
- Variation: The opening titles of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is accompanied by background music listed as "Ice Flow." When the credits' subtitles veer off into talking about mooses, the music slows down to a stop twice. The credits resume with background music listed as "Wide Horizons." When it starts going off into mooses, it is stopped suddenly and replaced with new credits—this time about llamas—and music listed as "Mexican Buster."
- The earliest example is Frank Zappa near the end of "Nasal Retentive Calliope Music" on We're Only in It for the Money.
- Austin Texas' Asylum Street Spankers' song "My Favorite Record" has them quoting lines from their favorite records, and ending the song jerkily repeating a line like a scratched disk.
- Fishbone, in the video for their ska-flavored "It's a Wonderful Life", uses footage from the Frank Capra movie. The repeating fadeout comes to an abrupt stop with the visual of Donna Reed angrily yanking a record off a phonograph and smashing it.
- Madonna does this twice on the song "Now I'm Following You (Part 2)" from her Dick Tracy soundtrack album I'm Breathless...the first time is when the record skips, presumably when it finishes playing the previous song on the album, "Now I'm Following You (Part 1)", and near the end when she says "Will you knock it off, please?", a Call Back to her response in the song "Cry Baby".
- Played straight in the video game of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and hilarious on virtue of it being ridiculously out of place.
- Heard in Perfect Dark Zero when you activate the fire alarm in the dance club.
- In Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, if the player dies, the background music will end with an abrupt record scratch before the screen goes to black.
- A literal example can occur in the Bioshock games if a song happens to be playing on a small record player, and it is jostled from its spot (which, due to the awkward physics of the game, can happen by simply searching the desk it's sitting on). Detracting from the realism though, is the fact that the music audibly fades out during the scratch instead of cutting out abruptly and that there is no record present on the phonograph. BioShock Infinite introduced actual spinning records on its phonographs.
- There's at least one point where the music will cut instead of fading: in Sander Cohen's apartment in Mercury Suites, there's a pair of dancers waltzing to a tune on a record player. Cohen warns you not to interrupt their music. Their player is balanced on a box of ammo - if you take the ammo, the player will fall over, cuing a needle scratch... at which point the music cuts off and the dancers go berserk.
- In StarCraft II, when Prince Valerian reveals himself to Raynor, he removes an actual needle from a playing record, with a scratch.
- In Call of Duty's first British mission, the player has the chance to sneak up on some German soldiers near a bridge listening to a radio. Shortly after you begin shooting, the radio stops with a record scratch.
- In FEAR, the elevator music does this when the power gets cut.
- In Brain Dead 13, this occurs whenever you pause the game.
- The Echo Chamber episode on the trope Freudian Excuse had Tom telling a sad story set to sad music. The story was about his childhood, and why it made him the jerk he is. Dana's response was an unimpressed, "Is that it?", timed with a Record Needle Scratch and the music stopping. It was an explanation, not an excuse.
- The Mother Of All Trailers... until now!
- Metal Gear Solid The Abridged Snakes uses one in its sixth episode as part of a bait-and-switch Rick Roll (the episode continues after that).
- The Only Superhuman flash animation. God's dancing a victory jig for the destruction of humanity to a hammond-organ rendition of 'Hallelujah', which scratches when he discovers their ingenuity has foiled his plan.
- Referenced in an edition of The BBC's Paper Monitor (scroll down to Paper Monitor for 15th March):
Skkkrrrrrreeeee! (An attempt to render the sound of a phonographic needle skittering across a record through the medium of the alphabet, to signify a "whoa, hold on there little doggy!" reaction.)
- Homestar Runner loves this trope, using it in at least ten cartoons so far. They use a distinctly different sound effect for it than most works.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: When Tristan arrives with his motorbike.
- This happens in Avatar: The Abridged Series, when Chong starts playing the song "Secret Tunnel" about half a season ahead of schedule. He gives the excuse that he's "baked like an apple pie right now, man."
- Doctor Steel used it in The Dr. Steel Christmas Special.
"My Christmas tree is simply overflowing with kind gifts. Thank you, ever so much. I simply cannot wait until Christmas. And so... <skrrrrtt!> I won't!"
- On The Spoony Experiment, Spoony pulls one during his "FMV Hell: Make My Video" review when he realizes that the two children from the "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch" game look exactly like younger versions of him and his sister.
- Referenced by Le Fossoyeur de Films (a French videomaker discussing about cinema) in a video about the 10 movie clichés he dislikes the most. The Record Needle Scratch sound is the one he hates the most among them, although he mostly targets the humoristic use of this sound. It doesn't prevent him to use it a couple of times for jokes during the same sequence.
- In one of the many, many extras for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the music swells heroically and then abruptly fades out as Billy Boyd wearily recounts his experience filming the scenes with the Treebeard puppet:
Dom Monaghan: I don't think Weta had any concept of men having testicles, and by the time we were through I didn't either.
- In the extras for The Return of the King, when, once again, Billy Boyd talks about his Gondorian helmet.
- An RP on the internet uses a recorder scratch. The setting is that a bunch of roleplayers are playing a game of D&D or similar — one of the roleplayers, Sara, is playing background music on her recorder. The DM's character (not entirely like D&D, then) has just finished talking about the perils her group will face, finishing with "a giant, fire-breathing, winged koala". Cue the recorder stumbling on a few notes, before the player gives a coughing fit.
Sara: Sorry, I think there's a dead bug in here.
- The Monty Python LP Another Monty Python Record has an audio version of their documentary on the Piranha Brothers crime family end when mobster Luigi Vercotti walks in and informs the sound engineer that he should quit the sketch. When the engineer balks, there's a large scratch and Luigi says "Awww, sorry, squire, I scratched your record!/orry, squire, I scratched your record!/orry, squire, I scratched your record! etc. etc.
- The Python LP Matching Tie And Handkerchief has the "First World War Noises" sketch. The Frame Story involves a customer listening to the title sketch in a listening booth at a very strange record store ("She came over all dead so we gave her the afternoon off"). The record sticks, there's another bit involving the customer, then the sketch resumes. Later the record sticks again, the customer complains and then the Frame Story also sticks. There's a very loud Record Needle Scratch and the next sketch begins.
- Monty Python's Previous Record starts off with Terry Jones shouting "Not this record! Not this record!" followed by a record needle scratch. Side 1 ends with the Travel Agent sketch, as Mr. Bounder (Michael Palin) frantically pulls a record needle scratch while Mr. Smoke-Too-Much (Eric Idle) drones on about his misbegotten holidays. Later on the album, an inversion occurs as a recording of Alastair Cooke being attacked by a duck is played, starting with the quiet static heard when the needle is placed on the record.
- At the end of the first Cheech And Chong LP, Chong is attempting to play a humorous record his friend had ordered; cue about 15 seconds worth of horrendous needle scratches.
- An episode of Watchdog, a British consumer issues program used this trope to end some Sad Violin Music, being played by a man with a violin.
- Neil's Heavy Concept Album, by Neil of The Young Ones:
Neil: Hey, what was that? Oh no, hang on, somebody's scratched the record...
Neil: Oh no, there's another one! Bloody bastards! I mean I've just spent like most of my life, right, making this record, and you don't even take care of it...
- There then follows a blob of peanut butter on the record, followed by the big black skatey bit.