Camelot has a music that is not sad during the final battle, when almost all the Knights of the Round Table died.
Norwegian black comedy Svidd Neger was scored by Norwegian ambient/electro band Ulver, with a majority of the film featuring melancholic or dramatic orchestral tracks completely at odds with the drunken shenanigans and slapstick comedy onscreen. Reversed in a flashback where Karl beats and drowns his wife after discovering she had cheated on him, set to a lilting Hawaiian ditty. Avoided toward the end when we see Anna nursing her newborn twins while hiding in the woods in a rainstorm, shivering and seeming on the verge of tears while she sings a lullaby about someday escaping her family and travelling to America with her lover Norman; the somber piano chords in the background exaggerate the scene's TearJerker status even further.
WALL•E. We hear the uplifting Hello, Dolly! tune "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" while being subjected to depressing, horrifying images of the earth drowning in trash. This contrast is made even more intense by the first images during the song being beautiful starscapes and whirling galaxies.
"Out there... there's an outside filled with wonder..."
In the 2009 animated drama film Mary and Max, an eerie cover of "Que Sera Sera" plays while Mary is about to commit suicide.
The movie opens with Olivia's father getting violently kidnapped in front of his daughter, and there are a few moments of silence as she cries out for him after he's gone. Cue the opening credits with confoundingly upbeat music.
There's also an in-universe example: When Ratigan leaves the heroes to die in a Death Trap, the device is connected to a phonograph record that plays "Goodbye So Soon" - a sentimental music-hall number that he recorded for just this situation.
The song "A Guy Like You" (a cheerful, optimistic song sung by the gargoyles) from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It's sung during the scene when medieval Paris is literally burned to the ground by the villain as an attempt to force the heroine out of her hiding spot.
In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, after the penguins begin stealing vans to rebuild their plane, they manage to run over an old woman. After realizing she's still alive they turn on the music and proceed to hit her again while Boston's "More Than a Feeling" blasts from the speakers.
Subverted in that the scene's hilarious and Nana's indestructible.
The scene in 9 where, after a heartwarming sequence in which "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" plays and the characters are all relaxed and having fun, it takes a disturbing twist when The Big Bad pulls a Disney Death and proceeds to chase an unlucky 5 across the field. The only sounds to be heard are 5's frantic screams for the others to run, and Somewhere Over The Rainbow still playing eerily in the background. This terrifying moment is emphasised by the lyrics being sung as we see 5 running toward the screen in desperate escape, the machine not far behind: If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, then why, oh why, can't I?
"Be Prepared" in Hoodwinked has to count. Especially once the avalanche starts during the mine cart sequence. When the slide starts to chase Red and Japeth's mine cart, here's Japeth's lyrics:
Japeth:[singing] Ohhhhhhh, an avalanche is coming and I do not feel prepared / It's running like a mountain lion, I must say that I'm scared / and if not for the witch's spell you'd hear just how I scream / But since I'm only singing I'll just yodel 'til we're creamed.
Mood Whiplash ensues, for as Japeth yodels while the cart enters the next tunnel, Red is reacting accordingly to the fact that the cart is speeding towards a dead-end. As Japeth hits the last note of the song, she screams as the cart goes off the rails.
The soundtrack of Transformers: The Movie borders on this trope from time to time, most notably with "Weird" Al Yankovic's "Dare To Be Stupid" playing during the Autobot vs. Junkion battle scene. Well, it's either this trope or Crowning Music of Awesome...
In Home, the song "Red Balloon" by Charli XCX plays during the Boov invasion of Earth, which sees all of humanity abducted and displaced from their homes while the aliens overrun the cities. Then again, from the Boov perspective it's quite fitting since it's quite a peppy and fun song (and the sequence does involve a lot of things floating up like balloons).
Hard Core, a 1979 film directed by Paul Schrader and starring George C. Scott, has Susan Raye's "Precious Memories" playing in the opening and closing credits. As the film is about a conservative Calvinist man looking for his missing daughter in the pornographic underworld, the dissonance of the music helps underscore mainstream society's comfortable ignorance of the shocking reality of the lives of those who work in the sex industry.
Uploaders description: The music transition is awesome. From the musician practically having a seizure of the keyboard or two to an acapella Christmas carol. BRILLIANT!
Fritz Lang's M uses this trope with In the Halls of the Mountain King. The criminally insane child murderer whistles (often slowly, and off-key) this upbeat song when he feels the urge to kill rising within him.
Film composer Henry Mancini discusses this trope in his autobiography, referring to it as "playing against the scene."
The somber musical score to Young Frankenstein is squarely at odds with the screwball tone of the film, yet somehow works perfectly well.
Eraserhead: "In heaven, everything is fine. In heaven, everything is fine. You've got your good things, and I've got mine..."
At the end, the doomsday switches have been flipped and mushroom clouds are erupting, all to the tune of the optimistic "We'll Meet Again." This was no accident; the entire movie is satire, so why not the closing montage?
The B-52's leitmotif is "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", as it embarks on a mission to nuke the Soviet Union it will probably never return home from.
The opening credits, a lush arrangement of "Try a Little Tenderness" turns military footage of a B-52 aerial refueling into soft-core porn.
A Clockwork Orange features a number of examples, including several scenes of violence set to beautiful classical music. Most notably, however, is the home invasion and rape set to Alex's performance of "Singing in the Rain". The song was chosen simply because Malcolm McDowell knew all the words offhand. The original version by Gene Kelly plays during the end credits.
The Shining uses Midnight, the Stars and You over the unsettling photograph at the end.
Bartok's Music for Percussion, Strings, and Celestia certainly doesn't belong in the scene in which it's heard.
Roadrunner cartoons can be heard in the background of otherwise intense scenes.
The first three minutes of the film is made of this trope.
Interview with the Vampire; as Louis sits in a plague-infested hovel and weeps despairingly over the unconscious body of a little girl he believes himself to have killed, Lestat snatches up the rotting corpse of the child's mother and proceeds to dance a happy waltz with it while a merry, lively tune bounces along on the soundtrack.
In the Forbidden Forest, when Harry's friends sing the cheerful Hogwarts school song in the background while an ominous score plays and Harry discovers the body of Barty Crouch, Sr. The scene is recalled later after Harry returns from the Little Hangleton graveyard and the scene of Voldemort's return clutching Cedric's dead body to the sound of a cheering Hogwarts crowd and the band playing the bouncy, brassy, fully-orchestrated version of the song.
In the sixth movie, Dumbledore has just died, and they play cheerful, almost carnival music over the credits.
The Haunting of Molly Hartley. The movie ends with her now stuck working for the devil, apathetically dismissing her father as a disturbed mental patient, and then a graduation speech at high school, with happy music played over the last scene and credits.
Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs has two such instances: the use of "Stuck in the MiddleWith You" by Stealer's Wheel for the infamous scene where Mr. Blonde tortures a cop; and the use of Harry Nilsson's "Coconut" in the closing credits immediately following the bloody finale where everybody dies. The scene was intended by Tarantino as an homage to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, in which the protagonist sings "Singin' in the Rain" during a home invasion.
Pulp Fiction: Tarantino originally wanted to use The Knack's "My Sharona" during the scene when Butch decided to rescue Marsellus as he was beaten and raped by Maynard, the pawn shop clerk, and his security guard friend, Zed. He felt that the song had a "good sodomy beat to it". Since the song was already licensed to Reality Bites, Tarantino used "Comanche" by The Revels.
The Proposition opens with a small child singing a song called "Happy Land" while old-timey family photographs fly by. Some of the photos are of burnt-out houses, and labeled "The Site of the Hopkins Massacre". When the music stops, we are then plunged into the middle of a vicious gunfight. There is also the calm, melancholy "Peggy Gordon", which is sung while a character is being brutally flogged. It is also sung again at the climax, when a rape is occurring. In fact, it's sung by the rapist.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) has Amazing Grace (the bagpipe version) playing when Donald Sutherland finds the pods being loaded onto a cargo ship. Amazing Grace was playing just to lure humans to the ship.
Stardust (2006) has a fight scene set to the tune of the "Can-Can", where the swords clash in time to the music.
The basement scene in The Evil Dead (1981), with the cheerful jazz music and the bleeding lightbulb and slide projector.
The end credits also counts too. With the film ending with Ash being attacked by the evil force and him screaming in horror before cutting to black, the end credits has the same jazz music playing over it. After a while, the song begins to 'die' and fade out and is replaced with ominous wind and buzzing flies, almost like the ending has two times the dissonance.
That exact same jazz music from The Evil Dead is also used, by way of Shout-Out, at the beginning of the fifth Creepshow segment.
Turned all around as early as 1932's Freaks, whose title card is accompanied by some deeply chilling, Circus of Fear type music and stylized, nightmarish images of most of the titular characters. Yet the majority of the film's one-hour run time is spent with them just hanging out, and it's a Sitcom with a mostly-deformed cast... up to the point that the freaks start stalking a woman who married one of their own for money and then tried to murder him. That scene, however, had no music.
In the trailer for the video game movie Hitman, the titular character is shown killing large numbers of Mooks... while Schubert's "Ave Maria" plays in the background.
Also used for the credits. While the tone seems out of place, the song is about a criminal beloved to the singer who brought on herself her own demise. Kira kills criminals. Lyrically appropriate, at least.
Battle Royale. Students killing each other left and right... to the accompaniment of various soothing classical pieces played over a loudspeaker on the island on which they're fighting.
In the Loop features a scene during which Jamie McDonald angrily trashes a fax machine from which a document containing classified intelligence was printed and leaked to the opposition, while opera music plays from a computer in the background. Jamie quickly notices this, and orders that someone "turn that fucking racket off!"
In Hellboy, Dr. Bruttenholm resigns himself to his murder while "We'll Meet Again" plays on a phonograph across the room, in a shoutout to the above Strangelove.
And Die Hard famously uses "Ode to Joy" as the villain's theme song. That song doesn't fare much better than "What a Wonderful World".
Michael Kamen had a habit of quoting popular/traditional music. The original movie includes some tense quotes of "Winter Wonderland", while the third references "Daisy Bell" (along with less dissonant, but still noticeable quotes of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "Go Down Moses").
Die Hard 2: While John's sneaking around under the terminal, the Source Music from the janitor's record player is Patti Page's "Old Cape Cod".
Both Die Hard 1 and 2 end with the song 'Let it Snow' by Vaughn Monroe. In the first Die Hard the song is sung by Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) just before the body of a dead terrorist drops on top of his car. In Die Hard 2 the song compliments the harsh snow storm that plays a part in plot of the film.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla: Mechagodzilla rips Anguirus's jaw in an intense and dramatic scene. The music playing in the background is snazzy jazz music.
In Schindler's List, a German soldier plays Bach's second "English Suite" on the piano (and not Mozart like one of the two listeners thought) while the SS troops are massacring the inhabitants of the Krakow Ghetto.
And the scene when the Germans put Gute Nacht Mutter and a child's song on the camp's speakers while making the selection of persons that can work, while the unlucky ones were put on a train of death or boarded trucks to be shot in the woods.
The scariest part is that this is a partial Truth in Television; some of the heads of the extermination camps would allow a reprieve for prisoners to live longer if they had musical skill, these prisoners would play music, although never "German" music, while the mass executions occurred.
The scene in The Untouchables where Malone gets his guts machine-gunned to pieces by Al Capone's sniper, and proceeds to agonizingly drag himself down his hallway, spitting and oozing massive amounts of blood as he goes. The scene is interspliced with clips of Capone watching a performance of the opera Pagliacci, and sincerely weeping over the beauty of the singer's voice. The music is not cut off whenever the scene cuts away from the opera — it continues to play over both locations.
The opening credits for The Hills Have Eyes (2006) play the song "More And More" over nuclear testings and photos of deformed children. (Although the deforming had actually been caused by Agent Orange, which was used in The Vietnam War.)
The Baddies' Theme from the original The Last House on the Left which was peppy and cheery playing over the baddies taking Mari and Phyllis away to abuse and murder them. Given that the lyrics of said peppy song say let's have some fun with those two little children and off them as soon as we're done it can be also regarded as Lyrical Dissonance.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas opens with file footage of various unpleasant incidents from the '60s while a somber version of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music plays. The off-kilter effect suits a movie about a massive drug trip rather well.
The original trailer for Blade Runner featured prominent use of "If I Didn't Care" by The Ink Spots. The song quite blatantly clashes with the imagery.
A case could be made for The Third Man, with its happy zither music.
In American Psycho, Serial Killer Patrick Bateman commits an axe murder to the tune of "Hip to be Square" while commenting on the appropriateness of the music to '80s culture.
In the novel, he's humming a tune of a TV show that he watched as a child (he can't remember what it was), while making a sausage out of the body of a woman he just killed.
A (fan-made?) trailer that can be found on YouTube for American Psycho uses The Beach Boys' optimistic song Wouldn't It Be Nice (a song about two young lovers wanting to get married) to some pretty brutal and bloody clips.
The Silence of the Lambs has a few of these, including Buffalo Bill's disturbing dance to the tune of "Goodbye Horses" while his victim screams in the background, and Hannibal killing and cannibalizing two guards while wistfully listening to Bach's "Goldberg Variations".
Kill Bill. The Bride slices up the Crazy 88 to jazz and J-pop.
And, conversely, having O-Ren and The Bride square off against each other to the incredibly loud and energetic "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", only to have it stop immediately when first blood is drawn.
Happiness is the king of this trope, playing upbeat jazzy music/happily melodramatic music to scenes involving mass murder, ejaculation, and pedophilia. This is to be expected of such a disturbing Black Comedy.
Director Cameron Crowe does this a lot. Examples include Almost Famous, in which Stevie Wonder's "Ma Cherie Amour" plays while the protagonist's love interest overdoses in a hotel bathroom. In Vanilla Sky, Todd Rundgren's breakup anthem "Can We Still Be Friends" plays after the main character has killed his lover, or her duplicitous double, or something, and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" booms out awesomely as his mind starts to unravel and he sort of starts to figure out how very wrong he is about everything.
Monty Python is quite good for this. For example, in The Meaning Of Life, where "The Galaxy Song", a cheery, happy-go-lucky tune with vaguely upbeat lyrics about the wondrous vastness of the universe that ends on a big downer ("pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space, cause there's bugger all down here on Earth"), plays after a scene wherein a man has his organs harvested while he's still alive. Immediately after the song finishes, the wife agrees to undergo the process herself.
In The Night of the Hunter, the truly nightmarish villain goes around singing gospel. There's also a scary montage of the children traveling downriver with a lullaby in the background.
After the Tear Jerker ending of The World According To Garp (Garp gets shot and dies), they could have just run the ending credits in silence after the appropriate "There Will Never Be Another You". No, they had to reuse the bouncy "When I'm Sixty-Four" from the opening credits. This may have been on purpose, though. It certainly turned that song into a Tear Jerker.
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind has a scene of Chuck Barris doing his CIA work... with a hilarious "If I Had a Hammer" rendition in the background.
Marie Antoinette: the film is set in the time of the actual Marie Antoinette, but its soundtrack is deliberately and loudly filled with 70s and 80s New Wave/Punk/Glam Rock acts (New Order, Adam & the Ants, Siouxsie and the Banshees).
Needful Things couples this with Left the Background Music On. Two characters hack and slash at each other in typically King gore fashion to the tune of Ave Maria. It then cuts to the movie's antagonist listening to a record of this song.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Okay, it's a comedy, but the juxtaposition of the bright and cheerful Here Comes Santa Claus with the images of SWAT teams surrounding the Griswold residence is a classic example of using this trope for deliberate humorous effect.
Played straight earlier in when being chased by the Big Bad's henchmen, a cheery Christmas song with backing vocals done by children plays
In Silent Hill, the heroine finds herself surrounded by screeching burnt baby things, and they're slowly advancing on her...and she's trapped in a back-alley. She collapses, and then wakes up, babies gone, with Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" playing on a jukebox nearby.
In the Outkast musical Idlewild, the song "Happy Days Are Here Again" plays over a radio in a garage while Rooster watches Deceptive Disciple Trumpy off Spats and Sunshine Ace.
In Goodfellas, the brutal, gory beating of Billy Batts is accompanied by the strains of Donovan's romantic, hippie-fied psychedelic pop-folk song "Atlantis," which is playing on the jukebox at the time.
The long montage showing the discoveries of several brutally murdered corpses set to the piano coda from Derek and the Dominos' "Layla".
Brazil's main Leitmotif, the bossa nova song "Brazil", is a happy tune in a movie about a soul crushing, bureaucratic, dystopia.
Then there's the bombing in the restaurant - the waiter apologizes profusely and pulls up a screen in an ineffective attempt to hide the sight of the carnage, and the musicians start playing "Hava Nagila" over the screams.
Grosse Pointe Blank opens with the main character assassinating citizens to "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, a cheery, upbeat little number.
At the end of The Devil's Rejects, the titular family commit Suicide by Cop to the tune of "Freebird", with the freeze frame of their deaths, as well as all of the gunshots occurring during the upbeat and frenzied solo.
That scene was based directly on a real nuclear test that was actually conducted in 1957. The TV sets and radios were on because the entire purpose of the test was to determine the effects of a distant airburst on a typical suburban neighbourhood.
An unusual sort of Soundtrack Dissonance occurrs in A Beautiful Mind: in the car chase scene, in which John Nash and his boss are pursued and shot at by two Soviet agents, the musical score avoids an action theme and opts instead for a dark and surprisingly lonely piano theme as the two cars exchange fire. However, the music becomes somewhat more appropriate when Nash is found to be suffering from schizophrenia, and imagined the entire scenario. The music — a particular theme involved specifically with Nash's delusions of Soviet conspiracies — is meant to symbolize his continuing breakdown.
The clock radio which counts down the protagonist's supposed hour in 1408 repeatedly (and autonomously) breaks into The Carpenter's "We've Only Just Begun." This is combined with the countdown resetting itself, and new inventive tortures being pulled by the Genius Loci. The cumulative effect is terrifying.
The final scenes of Bob Fosse's All That Jazz all involve wildly dissonant music, ranging from "Bye Bye Love" (performed while Joe Gideon's heart finally gives out) to "There's No Business Like Show Business" (which kicks in when Gideon is zipped into a body bag).
In The Bad Seed, Rhoda sets fire to Leroy's bedding while he sleeps, then goes upstairs and plays "Au Clair de la Lune" on the piano at increasing speed as Leroy screams in agony.
Due to Crystal-Ball Scheduling with a wild sense of humor, this pops up a few times in Being There. Middle-aged upper-class people being driven in a limo up to the Big Fancy House just isn't the same when the music on the TV is the Cheech and Chong song "Basketball Jones". And Shirley MacLaine putting the moves on Peter Sellers may sound odd enough on its own, but then you add Mister Rogers singing about friendship...
Rob Zombie's Halloween has the light warblings of "Mister Sandman", before a slightly-sinister octave shift. Then a full out switch to head-down evil.
That's a clear homage to Halloween II (1981), which ended with the original song playing as flames engulfed Michael's corpse.
In Zombie's version of II, a cover of "Love Hurts" plays over Laurie'sDying Dream. This is only in the Director's Cut — in the Theatrical Cut, she is institutionalized in Smith's Grove as the traditional theme music plays.
The use of 10cc's "The Things We Do For Love" in the sequel, which plays in the background as we see a man's face mashed to a pulp from a car wreck and his badly-injured passenger spitting out the ultimate Cluster F-Bomb. Word of God states this was based on an incident that happened to a friend of Zombie's.
Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses has Slim Whitman's "I Remember You" playing over super slow motion scenes of graphic torture and murder.
In U Turn, the volume on the relaxing, almost elevator music-esque song playing on a grocery store's radio inexplicably cranks up as its owner guns down a couple of escaping robbers with a double-barreled shotgun.
Gangster No. 1 features a scene of brutal torture accompanied by the romantic song "Why".
Office Space: The use of gangsta rap throughout a film about white-collar jobs (and, ultimately, white-collar crime). Punctuated when they destroy a piece of office equipment as though they were beating a person to death. Soundtrack dissonance is the source of maybe half the laughs in the movie.
The movie studio got pissed too when Mike Judge originally used the music, but let him keep it when a test screening resulted in positive feedback for the soundtrack.
The film opens with The Comedian getting brutally murdered to the tune of Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable". The fact that the source of this music is a television advertisement for Veidt Industries' Nostalgia Perfume could be seen as an early clue that the assassin is Veidt himself.
The value-neutral-in-lyrics but somewhat-upbeat-in-tune The Times They Are A-Changin' (by Bob Dylan) playing over the various things that occurred in the leadup to the start of the film could be seen as similar, since most of the events — Silhouette's murder, Richard Nixon's election, Mothman's insanity, etc. — are bad things.
The use of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" during Dan and Laurie's sex scene. The use of that song at that particular moment screams of "Hallelujah! I'm getting laid!"
KC & The Sunshine Band's "I'm Your Boogie Man" playing over the Comedian's riot dispersal.
The Saturday Night Live film Dirty Work has one scene set in a bar that plays this for laughs. A bar fight's about to break out. One of the drunks goes straight to the jukebox shouting about how he's going to cue up the Rolling Stones' "Street Fightin' Man" for this very occasion. Unfortunately, he hits the wrong button. Cue a bar fight set to the thumping tones of... "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)".
Man: "Looks like there's gonna be a brawl. You playin' something good? "
Chris Farley: "Hell, yeah! Rolling Stones, Street Fighting Man! G! 7!"
Justified in the third The Lord of the Rings. When Denethor demands Pippin sing him a song, Pippin tells him that hobbits don't know any songs appropriate to a war, only happy songs. Denethor tells him to sing one anyway. The song that follows (taken from an earlier and happier point in the books) accompanies images of soldiers being sent on a suicide mission and killed. Pippin sings the happy lyrics so sadly that it's almost appropriate.
Poltergeist inexplicably begins with "The Star-Spangled Banner" playing over the credits; our confusion is resolved when we realize it's a TV station playing the national anthem before ending their broadcast for the evening.
Dawn of the Dead (1978): Subverted in the ending credits. The upbeat muzak seems to clash with zombies wandering aimlessly around a mall, until you realize that they're just stand-ins for human shoppers who'd be doing exactly the same thing.
In both the movie and the novel Little Big Man, towards the end when Custer's 7th Cavalry is massacring a Native American village, including the protagonist's family, in the background is the cheery strains of "Garry Owen" played by the regimental band. This was the actual marching song of the 7th cavalry.
John Ford did it earlier in The Searchers, where there's a scene of US cavalry returning from slaughtering an Indian village and hustling the survivors (mostly white women captured by the Indians) off to a fort to the strains of the same tune. Probably based on the same action by the 7th Cavalry, it takes place in the middle of winter.
Another John Ford film, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, has a scene with an operation performed on a moving wagon, where the colonel's wife (Mildred Natwick) sings the cheerful song of the title to help the patient to take his mind off the pain.
Funny Games starts with a happy family driving through a beautiful country road and listening to opera. When the credits begin, the soundtrack suddenly switches to a shockingly discordant and abrasive song with grinding guitars, piercing trumpets, and meaningless screeching.
That song is called Bonehead and it's by Naked City.
Fallen uses "Time Is On My Side" in somewhat the same manner as an Ironic Nursery Rhyme, first playing as a criminal is to be executed, then sung by the villain as a representation of how he's unstoppable. The hero uses the song himself during a rather clever Out-Gambitted.
In the thriller Transsiberia, a tense chase scene is set to the cheery Russian folk song "Kalinka".
Invoked in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. While Tuco is being tortured by Angel Eyes, a beautiful song plays. It's actually being played by the soldiers on their instruments outside, and they are apparently ordered to play whenever Angel Eyes decides to torture someone. His habit is to beat them until the song is over.
In Run, Lola, Run "What a difference a day makes" plays whilst Lola and Manni are being chased by the police.
Subverted in the second Ong Bak movie, in that the long fight scene at the end switches between fast-paced metal, what sounds like Ominous Latin Chanting and singing in some unspecified language. All are appropriate to the scene, hence the subversion, but the change is noticeable.
The theme song from Jurassic Park is surprisingly upbeat for a movie about dinosaurs eating people.
It is not, however, surprisingly upbeat when it's a theme for when people see REAL GODDAMN DINOSAURS.
In the documentary Super Size Me, the Blue Danube plays. To the tune of a person having a bypass surgery, in graphic detail. Might be a subversion, because not only is the surgery quick and painless, but the person is shown to be alive and healthy(er) in the epilogue.
Public domain editions of The Lost World (1925) get a good dose of this for all the wrong reasons. Imagine happy springtime music playing while an Allosaurus bears down on the hero's campsite. Ya see? Thank god the DVD versions have the original score(s).
Nosferatu often suffers from this as well. We get the pure horror that is Orlok, but with a jazzy high-hat in the background. Not quite right. Especially since the original score is so damn good.
In the Tom Cruise version of The War of the Worlds, light-hearted Christmas-type music plays from speakers as refugees pour onto the ferry point. Most of them are dead soon afterwards.
The Film of the Book version of Trainspotting features this throughout, but the most genius is Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life" over shots of the protagonists running from the cops in the beginning, and then later, the exact same footage is set to blur's "Sing", creating a completely different scene entirely.
That scene's very good; however, the whole "Renton O'Ding to Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day'" is, by far, the best example.
Not sure what to make of the end credits for Iron Man. Sure, the Black Sabbath song kicks about as much ass as the title character, but when the song was originally written, it was specifically written to make the character out as a villain, so as to distinguish him as much as possible from the comic book superhero. In a way, the song works better for Obadiah Stane than it does for Tony Stark.
Which is probably why the credits have only the instrumental parts of the song...
In the Steven Seagal film Driven to Kill, every time Seagal's character gets into a fight or starts shooting, cheesy Russian folk music starts blaring.
Pink Flamingos has the final scene set to "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window". The scene in question has Divine picking up and eating dog poop. This scene is purportedly exploited in The Funday Pawpet Show in the Pink Flamingo challenge. Apparently, those who've watched that scene are never be able to listen to that song ever again without gagging.
David Dobkin's "Clay Pigeons" uses this several times. For example, the Old 97's "Timebomb" plays over the opening credits, right after Joaquin Phoenix's best friend kills himself in front of him. Later in the movie, Elvis Presley's version of "It's Now or Never" play during a murder scene.
Spaceballs ends with the Spaceballs completely defeated, their ship about to self-destruct, and, as they desperately run for the escape pods, this song about how big and bad they are plays.
"Nobody But Me" by the Human Beinz is a popular ironic song to play in the background of gratuitous violence: See The Bride vs. the 88's or the convince store brawl in The Departed.
The German movieKrabat, about a boy who learns Black Magic from a warlock owning a mill who made a Deal with the Devil and has to sacrifice one of his twelve apprentices per year, lest he loses his own soul (and life). Said boy overcomes said warlock with the help of his girl and The Power of Friendship. Cue the closing credits with the song "Wir sind allein" (we are alone). Er... what? Wasn't the whole point of the movie that he's NOT alone?
Kick-Ass 2 also rolls with this with almost every track. Most notably when "The Saint's Go Marching In" when the team beats up a crime ring. Other examples include the classical song "Euphoria, Take My Hand" playing when Mindy uses a device to make three Alpha Bitch Cheerleaders projectile vomit. Lastly a rock cover of the Tetris theme plays when Henchwoman Mother Russia massacres 10 cops.
The hangar scene from A New Hope, right after Obi-Wan's Heroic Sacrifice. While Luke and the stormtroopers exchange blaster fire, a traumatic, mournful tune provides the soundtrack. Glorious.
Quantum of Solace does this more or less in the opera scene, because both the action and the music deal with death, although the opera music feels dissonant to the gritty action scene that it underscores.
P2 includes a scene of a tied up woman struggling to get out of a locked car trunk with "Santa Baby" playing in the background. What makes it a little more unnerving is that it's diegetic - the security guard Stalker with a Crush who put her there started blaring some holiday music over the intercom system to drown out her screams.
In Lethal Weapon, "Jingle Bell Rock" is the first song we hear. And then a half-naked, coked-up prostitute throws herself off a hotel balcony.
During The Wizard of Gore, when Montag is gleefully ripping bits out of his victims, a peppy jazz number plays every time.
Herschell Gordon Lewis seemed fond of this trope, see also the pantsuit-stripping scene in The Gore Gore Girls accompanied by the strains of an oompah band playing Strauss’ “Radetzky March.”
In Grizzly Park, where most of the music is soft acoustic, the DVD menu plays an ominous sounding tune overlapping some scenes from the film (bear confrontations mostly). Once the film is finished and the main menu appears however, instead of hearing the same music again, you are instead suddenly listening to a familiar childrens' camp song known as "The Other Day, I Saw a Bear", complete with happy voices (presumably childrens') and the same exact bear scenes from before. A roaring, bloodthirsty bear coupled with a cheery campfire tune? No thank you.
The obscure British film Parting Shots has this during the numerous murder scenes. Pointed out by Film Brain, among many other things.
The scene in Dogma, where Loki murders the Mooby board execs is done while the very upbeat Mooby theme song plays in the background.
In the 1998 Canadian TV movie White Lies, Catherine Chapman (Sarah Polley) creeps through a library slipping neo-Nazi literature in between the books while "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" by Jackie DeShannon plays on the soundtrack.
Soundtrack dissonance was a very personal and important thing to Kurosawa. When his father died in 1948, he was walking around Tokyo to clear his thoughts and was tormented by the sound of the "Cuckoo Waltz". He told the composer for his upcoming film Drunken Angel to use the "Cuckoo Waltz" for ironic effect. He also went on to use soundtrack (and sound effect) dissonance for Stray Dog and Seven Samurai.
In The Madness of King George the scene where the king is gagged and bound to a chair for the first time is ironically underscored with the coronation anthem from Handel's Zadok the Priest.
Roger & Me plays "Wouldn't It Be Nice" over streets full of derelict buildings and a news announcement saying that rats now outnumber humans in Flint. Earlier, an autoworker told a story that he heard "Wouldn't It Be Nice" over the radio during a nervous breakdown and says that it's a pretty awful song to listen to during a breakdown.
Wild Beasts features a scene where a blind man is torn to pieces by his seeing eye dog while a gentle piano piece plays in the background. Justified, since he's actually shown putting that particular record on before he's attacked.
The credits of Dogville. A shockingly violent ending, followed by Young Americans by David Bowie, while showing pictures of the worst-looking slums in the US. Holy crap.
Used in Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story with the dissonance being both visual and harmonic as two Carpenters songs play whilst anorexic Karen Carpenter (played by a Barbie doll) vomits.
Airplane! has a Crosses the Line Twice use of this trope in a Black Comedy scene where the stewardess, Randy, plays "River of Jordan" to cheer up the Littlest Cancer Patient, accidentally knocks out her IV with a careless swing of the guitar, and keeps singing the song to the delight of the other passengers, oblivious to the girl's mother desperately trying to revive her.
Rigoletto (not to be confused withthe opera,) footage of a child singing in a contest is both interspersed with and the soundtrack for a scene of her adult friend being beaten— apparently to death— by an angry mob. The innocence of the song makes the violent attack on an innocent man seem all the more horrifying, even though the scene isn't visually graphic at all.
Used well in The Social Network. When Mark is checking Erica's status update to see if she responds, after possibly losing his best friend, the peppy Beatles song "Baby, You're a Rich Man" is playing in the background, somewhat mocking his billionaire status.
V for Vendetta Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture playing as the British Parliament building is demolished by a trainload of explosives and fireworks.
It isn't really that dissonant considering the piece is often associated with firework displays and it has a lot of symbolic significance in the film.
Fireworks? The 1812 Overture itself features cannons. Those aren't just thrown in, either. The original score by Tchaikovsky actually calls for them!
In Precious, this happens frequently throughout the movie, but an obvious example is when an upbeat gospel Christmas song is playing as Precious's mother kicks her out and throws a TV at her and her week-old baby.
127 Hours is a film about the life of Aron Ralston and how he got his arm trapped in a boulder while rock climbing. One scene of the film features him trying to get his arm out by creating a pulley system with his supplies. The song playing in this scene? "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers.
In Spider-Man 2, when Peter Parker is working as a photographer as he sees Mary Jane and John Jameson walking down the stairs together, in each others arms, set to the tune of a saxophone cover of the American National Anthem.
And when Peter loses his powers and decides to quit crime-fighting, there's a montage of him resuming a normal life set to "Raindrops Are Falling on My Head," but as the montage progresses, more and more reminders of the problems he can no longer help with begin rearing their ugly heads in front of him.
Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings in Platoon. You wouldn't call it cheerful, but it is extremely beautiful, much like war isn't.
Insidious manages to make "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" by Tiny Tim unnerving; it's played during two incredibly creepy, tense scenes.
The original ending of Thelma & Louise featured an instance of this. In the final cut, the car sails off the edge and freezes in mid-flight as the song "Thunderbird" is reprised. In the original ending, though, the car continues traveling downwards and flipping end over end into the canyon as BB King's "Better Not Look Down" (an upbeat song about keeping your spirits up) plays. The music keeps playing over Harvey Keitel's cop character looking down regretfully before cutting back to a shot of the car driving towards another canyon. The ending was meant to symbolize the pair continuing their journey in spirit, but the music is uplifting for a situation that was caused by circumstances beyond the control of the main characters.
Used for comedic purpose in Student Bodies. During the funeral of the Breather's first victims university band plays a slightly downtempo Ode to Joy.
Cannibal Holocaust uses this and it is terrifying. Probably no movie ever contrasts placid music with horrific imagery like this one.
At John Landis' request, Elmer Bernstein scored Animal House as a drama - which made it even funnier.
If you haven't seen It, you might think the theme tune is a bright, cheery circus tune.
At the climax of Kiss the Girls, a cheerful and upbeat version of the song "Goodnight, Irene" plays as the villain tries to rape the heroine, who eluded his grasp earlier in the movie. This is paired with Lyrical Dissonance, as the song lyrics are actually FAR too dark (with allusions to murder and suicide) for the manner in which it is sung.
Drive Angry: In the second half of the movie, Oklahoma police herd Milton and Piper into a roadblock in order to execute them for their earlier cop-killing. Until the protagonists were about to be shot, music was either non-existent or appropriately grim. Then the Accountant drives in from behind the roadblock in a hydrogen fuel truck, speeding straight towards the cops and driving through their cars to get to them, explosions abounding. What starts playing? ''That's The Way I Like It'' by KC & the Sunshine Band, on the Accountants' radio, while he bobs his head to the music.
Sweeney Todd: The reprise of "Pretty Women" just before Sweeney kills Judge Turpin. Wow.
The film version of Apt Pupil ends with the song Das Ist Berlin, which is a happy and uplifting song, but in context is really creepy.
Dark Star ends with the main character performing Dramatic Space Drifting and is about to burn up in atmospheric re-entry, while the only other surviving crewmember is caught in a meteor swarm and is being pushed by it in the other direction. Since the whole film is Black Comedy, the natural soundtrack choice for this scene is the downbeat country number "Benson, Arizona".
In the movie/documentary Touching the Void, a mountain climber recalls as he made his way back to his tent alone and with no supplies, he at one point had "Brown Girl in the Ring" by Boney M stuck in his head. We are then treated to a surreal, nightmarish sequence of him walking across the desolate icy landscape, while the song plays relentlessly over and over again.
A rare case of a dissonance with sadder music is the film Asterix And Obelix Take On Caesar which is a lighthearted comedy about a Gallic village bravel opposing Roman soldiers with the help of a magic drink. While it does contain a subplot about Obelix's Unrequited Love to Fallballa, a local beauty, this is Played for Laughs and he quickly come over it. The title song, however, is fully about this, and a huge Tear Jerker. The name - "She simply doesn't see me" - says it all.
Even borders guarded by millions of soldiers can be breached,
But the barrier between her and me cannot...
In the 1978 Italian film Avere vent'anni, a movie which starts off as a light comedy and then ends with the two main female leads being brutally raped and killed, a soundtrack of bright, happy Europop plays during the shocking final scene.
The dialogue-free 2004 Australian film Defenceless: A Blood Symphony features a soundtrack of nothing but classical and new age music to accompany the relentless brutality and savage violence onscreen.
An American Werewolf in London has notable upbeat music throughout, especially the climax, which ends somberly with the main character dead and his love crying over his dead body, then immediately jumpcuts into the credits with the ultra upbeat, bouncy version of Blue Moon by The Marcels.
Done in first Tim BurtonBatman film. When the Joker shoots Boss Grissom, cheerful circus carnival music plays as he hams it up and starts firing his gun like a trigger-happy cowboy while laughing gleefully. It's what effectively redefines him as the Joker, but that moment is obviously a case of Dude, Not Funny! in true Joker fashion. Adding that whimsical circus theme just seethes Black Comedy up the wazoo. It also happens right after Joker gasses out an entire museum to "meet" (kidnap) Vicki Vale undeterred, then bursts onto the scene, with a thug holding a boombox. When he clicks it on, Prince's "Partyman" blares as Joker and his cohorts deface and destroy enough works of art in the museum to make Michelangelo cry a river. The same music from when the Joker murders Grissom also plays during Batman's fight with the last batch of the Joker's goons late in the film.
In Oldboy (2003) Vivaldi's "Winter" plays while Oh Dae-su rips Mr Park's teeth out and in the corridor fight scene that follows it.
In the film Nine And A Half Weeks, there is a scene involving food that would normally be intended to be erotic. Until you realize that the song playing in the scene is the novelty song "Bread and Butter" by The Newbeats, which ends up making the scene lighthearted and somewhat humorous in an otherwise downbeat film.
In Rock N Rolla there's a peaceful and calming piano song playing over images of a man getting the tar beat out of him.
A couple of scenes in Shame, such as when Brandon listens to gentle piano music when out running while Sissy and David have sex on his bed.
Thor, the God of Thunder, the mightiest of the norse gods, was included in the film Thor. And the soundtrack was by... Foo Fighters.
In The Cabin in the Woods there's a big office party with cheerful music playing while the live CCTV footage of the heroine getting savaged by a zombie continues playing in the background.
The French song "Boum!" sung by Charles Trenet is played on Silva's island in Skyfall. It's a joyful tune about nature, love and thunder while the island is devoid of people other than Silva and his mooks and it's heard playing as Bond and Silva play a William Telling game with Severine.
Silva seems to enjoy the word "Boom". Later, he attacks Bond and M by helicopter, with PA speakers blasting out John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom Boom Boom", an uptempo blues standard.
In Prelude to War, part of the Why We Fight series, Nazi marching scenes lifted from Triumph of the Will are ridiculed with a silly, repetitive military march (based on a segment of the Defiliermarsch) playing.
Near the end of the battle that opens Gladiator, what had previously been a violent, trumpet-heavy piece of music gives way to the dulcet tones of Lisa Gerrard singing wordlessly. People are still being slaughtered out there even as she sings, but the changing tone of the soundtrack gives it a completely different flavor.
The original The Blob (1958) treats the premise of a flesh-eating mass of protoplasm from space in deadly earnest, but the title tune is a happy, jaunty, cha-cha-tinged number (by a young Burt Bacharach).
In the thriller The Call, a young woman wakes up to find herself locked in the trunk of a car (where her abductor placed her after knocking her out), while the quintessential 80's pop tune "Puttin' On The Ritz" plays on the car stereo. Even creepier, quick cuts of the driver show that he's happily bopping along to the song, looking like a perfectly normal guy and not at all like some psycho who just kidnapped a terrified girl.
The trailer for Drive uses a soft violin melody that begins when the main character kisses his love interest. It continues to play over parts of some of the movie's most violent moments, finally ending when the main character threatens to hammer a bullet through a man's skull.
Guardians of the Galaxy uses this trope extensively, as a result of the mix tape Starlord carries with him from Earth. Starlord is introduced with an ominous helmet, a stark, dark alien landscape and the song "Come and Get Your Love." It plays "Hooked on a Feeling" over Starlord being beaten viciously and then the heroes being led into a high security space prison. The song "Escape (the Piña Colada Song)" plays over a prison escape. Then there's the song "Ooh Child" used to great effect towards the end after Groot's apparent death during the boss fight
Bill Cosby has Bill Cosby: Himself, a 1983 theatrical release of one of his standup comedy shows. The show originally opened with him singing a parody of Grover Washington Jr.'s "Just the Two of Us" titled "Just the Slew of Us", which does not fit this trope. However, the VHS release swaps it out for a slow, somber ballad called "It Was a Good Idea at the Time", which does fit this trope to a tee.
In the middle of Babe, the family can be heard singing a Christmas carol inside the house when Farmer Hogget kills Ferdinand's friend, Rosanna for the Christmas dinner.
The Last Days on Mars (2013). The astronauts are playing "Blue Skies Are Around The Corner" by Jack Hylton (because they'll be heading back to Earth soon) as a menacing Martian dust storm bears down on them.
In the controversial The Interview, Jenny Lane's cover of "Firework" plays as Kim Jon-un's helicopter is shot down by a tank all in slow-mo.
This film practically makes a game of pairing hilarious music to horrific events. Exploding heads to Pomp and Circumstancenote Doubly hilarious: British viewers will know the song as Land of Hope and Glory, a hymn about the glory of the British Empire is but one example.
And the (involuntary, thanks to Valentine's rage-inducing SIM cards) massacre of the Westboro-style church congregation being set to the guitar solos of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird".
Ex Machina's soundtrack uses this to great effect. Notably, there's the crazy dance scene between Nathan and Kyoko, which uses an upbeat Disco track while Nathan is essentially commanding his personal slave to dance for him. And at the end of the movie, a beautifully serene orchestral piece plays as Ava brutally murders Nathan and leaves Caleb locked in the lab to die of starvation.
Lord of Illusions: A 1950s-style upbeat jingle about being a good Christian plays during a montage of Nix's old cult members having murdered their relatives and taking off to witness their master's resurrection.
1992's biodrama The Babe, starring John Goodman as the eponymous baseball player Babe Ruth, ends in a Foregone Conclusion that nonetheless delivers this. As the movie ends on a triumphant, but bittersweet note for the character, a closing narrative is given with music even more triumphant as it informs us that not only was the Babe never allowed to manage in professional baseball as he dreamed to, he died of throat cancer on August 16, 1948.
The President's Analyst - Dr. Schaefer, hiding out with a hippie rock band, makes love with a girl in the tall grass in a meadow, as Barry Mc Guire plays a quiet, contemplative song on acoustic guitar - unaware that several spies from different nations are creeping up to capture him. Each spy encounters and kills another one in his path, and the couple end walking off with a trail of corpses behind them.
In the comedy Rat Race, the triumphant score of "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" plays even as Blaine and Duane Cody's plan to sabotage the airport by bringing down their radar tower goes horribly awry. What could have been merely amusing becomes side-splittingly hilarious even as their SUV is dragged right up the tower.
It happens again when they try to split up and end up chasing Hardware Store Guy, stealing a balloon and crashing into cows to the tune of deep classical music.
The Italian horror film Deep Red features gruesome murder scenes with fast-paced jazz tunes playing on the background.
When Apocalypse hijacks Xavier's mind through Cerebro to disable all of the world's nuclear warheads, the music starts off playing Ludwig van Beethoven's 7th Symphony before shifting to regular action music when Havok and Beast try and stop him.