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Soundtrack Dissonance: Other Media
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  • This strikes me as a classy ad for Tamon Whiskey. Nice quiet uplifting music in a cozy local village pub atmosphere. Now start paying attention at the 0:25 marknote .
  • This camera commercial from HP features ''Pictures of You'' by The Cure, a song about missed opportunities and the sadness of having nothing at all left except the pictures.
  • This ad for a local digestive cure center has a backscore better suited for a late night phone sex hotline ad.
  • This 2012 advert for British Airways celebrates the London 2012 Olympics by using The Clash's London Calling. Because nothing says national pride like a song about a nuclear disaster. Also, extra points for whoever edited the advert allowing the line "Engines Stop Running" into an Airline advert. Then again considering how most Brits feel about their own country and the Olympics in General, this may have been deliberate.
  • One hast to wonder what the makers of This Peugot 208 car commercial wanted to tell the potential customers with that "Knockin' on heaven's door" cover. Maybe that the car was a deathtrap? Kind of a macabre choice.
  • Similarly, a German ad for Buko cream cheese used "Sunday Morning " by The Velvet Underground to show how happy and blissful the family enjoying their breakfast with their product was. Because nothing represents the image of a happy and wholesome family better than The Velvet Underground. it doesn't
  • It's really surprising how many different ads for sweets and candy-related products (such as jewelers advertising "candy-colored" gems) still use any of the various version of "I Want Candy," since a single listen to the song shows you it isn't about sweets, but about a girl named Candy.
  • Not quite an advertisement, but a "German video on forklift safety has moments of peppy, upbeat music in-between scenes of hilarious carnage.
  • In the world of (North American) commercials, Celebrity Cruises is still the reigning king of soundtrack dissonance.
    • Its first "wrong" song moment was with their commercial featuring Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life", a song about heroin addiction.
    • Its second "wrong" song moment was with their commercial featuring "Fame" by David Bowie, a song he wrote about the perils and emptiness of fame.
    • The "Lust For Life" example was parodied by The Onion with an article about the song being used in a bank advertisement, which, as they note, is "notably absent [of] any footage of a shirtless, bleeding Iggy Pop in skintight leopard-print pants, repeatedly bashing himself in the face with a microphone onstage at the legendary New York punk venue CBGB's."
  • Hallmark had an ad for singing Mother's Day cards featuring EMF's Unbelievable which was meant to be a break-up song about a guy leaving his demanding girlfriend.
  • Yaz, a birth control pill, once aired a commercial with The Veronicas' Goodbye to You.
  • A rather hilarious ad for the PS4 features gamers cheerfuly murdering each other while singing "Perfect Day".
  • A commercial for Kraken Spiced Rum features the song "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darrin...playing over the titular sea monster destroying a sailing ship and dragging it under the water.

  • Invoked in The Hunger Games during the "highlight reel" of the games. Katniss thinks how inappropriate the cheerful music is in the scenes of the tributes training, given that all the people on screen except for Katniss and Peeta are dead.

    Music Video 
  • The Gorillaz video for El Manana depicts air-pirates destroying the band's floating windmill while a band member runs for her life. Most of the video is pretty action packed and it ends on a cliffhanger. Despite this, the song is very somber and soothing.
    • This also happens in the "sequel" video, On Melancholy Hill. The video fits the music for the most part except for the opening in which the aforementioned bandmate takes her revenge agaisnt the air pirates, shooting them down with a machine gun. The song is pretty mellow as well.
  • Devo's music video Beautiful World may codify this trope for music video—a song that sounds happy and upbeat, at first set to cherry images of dancing women and sci-fi future, quickly takes a turn towards war footage, and race riots. "It's a beautiful world," indeed.
  • My Chemical Romance's video for SING can be called a similar case to El Manana, the song itself is upbeat and somewhat encouraging, the video shows the Killjoys blasting their way through BL/ind HQ to save the little girl, the girl makes it out alive, but the Killjoys all die doing so.
  • Rammstein's video for "Mein Land" is an inversion: music is your typical Rammstein, but it's set to a stereotypical American beach party from The Fifties, with the band dressed as Hawaiian Shirted Tourists. Also, there are shots of Till as a lifeguard.
  • The music video for War's Why Can't We Be Friends? is a downplayed example. It mostly follows the song's message, but features two scenes of a burglar stealing money and getting away with it. Not really something that makes you think of friendship or learning to get along with others.
  • The video for Bob Dylan's Duquesne Whistle starts of harmlessly, with a young man trying to get the attention of a young woman, intercut with shots of Dylan and some others walking down a street. Along the way, though he steals a flower from a street vendor, setting off a horrific chain of violent events. This all culminates in Dylan and his crew stepping over the young man's beaten, unconscious body. All set to cheery, nostalgic music.

  • The Mark & Brian Radio Program uses some stock advertising music as part of their "Kruger's Supermarket" sketch. The dissonance comes from the fact that the sketch Crosses the Line Twice, talking about how the butchers of the store's meat department really enjoy the job of killing animals.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The demons of Exalted are truly, thoroughly fucked up. How do we know this? Lots of reasons, really, but the most relevent to this page is the Organ of Agonies, a musical instrument that you strap innocent victims into before playing—which it will then slice, bludgeon, stretch, and mangle to death, making paradoxically beautiful music out of their agonized screams.


  • This actually became a fad on YouTube, especially with Youtube Poop, known as "X DOES Y WHILE I PLAY UNFITTING MUSIC". As the name suggests, the fad involves playing completely inappropriate music over a video clip. The first one was a clip of Luigi winding a jack-in-the-box accompanied with a snippet of "Don't Stop Me Now" from Queen.
    • Now there are videos to counter this, called "X DOES Y WHILE I PLAY QUITE FITTING MUSIC."
    • Footage from The Devils Rejects, set to Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill".
    • Used as a running gag in Devil May Cry: The Stupid Files. At least once in every video, there's a scene of Dante turning on a radio, which plays unfitting/fitting music, such as Kairi's theme song.
    • This video fits into that category, especially at the end. "We'll live in dreamland tonight" is maybe the most inappropriate lyric for those scenes.
  • Sync Sarah Connor's nightmare from ''Terminator 2'' to "Scatman's World"
  • ''Battleship Potemkin'', with a Parliament Funkadelic soundtrack.
  • ''Phantom Of The Opera'' playing The Entertainer.
  • ScrewAttack present: All of the fatalities in Mortal Kombat II to the tune of Baby Elephant Walk!
  • Les Trois Accords, a Québecois parody rock band, seems to embrace this trope and Surreal Music Video in their videoclips. Examples include ninjas and country music, hawaiian music in a winter background and just plain surrealism.
  • Some Fan Vid makers appear to be deliberately Invoking or Stealth Parodying this by putting serious content to upbeat, even saccharine songs; For example, Hare Hare Halo anyone? How about Devil May Cry to Caramelldansen, as in Macabredansen?
  • An old Doctor Who comic features a mercenary who can't get an annoyingly cheerful song out of his head, later realising that he'd got his headset stuck on playing it after it comes off after he'd been shot after mortally wounding a friend of the Doctor. The Doctor shoots the headset.
    • The tune in question, just for the record, is "We'll Meet Again" by Dame Vera Lynn, already touched on on this very page.
  • An old drug PSA from the late 90s shows a man on heroin strung out on his bathroom floor, convulsing and vomiting. All the while, an upbeat jingle states "Everybody's doing it! Doing it! Heroin, for the rest of your life!" Another ad from the same series shows a woman on meth cleaning her bathroom floor with a toothbrush and scratching herself with a similar upbeat jingle about Meth playing. You could watch them both here and here.
  • In Red vs. Blue, Red Team's jeep always rolls into battle with bouncy Tejano music blaring, since they can't figure out how to work the radio. This gives certain pitched battles a surreal quality...
  • In the finale of the opera Carmen, the offstage chorus sings "Toréador, en garde!" in a victorious mood as Don José stabs Carmen to death onstage.
  • American road beloooooongs to Buuuiiiiick
  • There's a video on YouTube called "Payatan and Punie" which uses Dai Mahou Touge footage to Queen's "Best Friend". It starts out cheerful but then shows the more gory scenes with the music staying the same.
  • The Internet meme of Rickrolling, which is the use of a falsely advertised video that, when viewed, actually runs audio of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", falls under this trope, because in a piece of irony in relation to the lyrics, the viewer is being let down.
  • The entire point of Inappropriate Soundtracks.
  • ''Filthy Frank indulges in this, one such example being Mulan's "Reflection" playing while Frank is coughing/screaming from trying the Cinnamon Challenge.
  • The whole Billy Herrington meme from Nicovideo. Anime and video game music combined with gay wrestling? Pretty dissonant stuff.
  • AMV Hell derives a lot of humor from this.
  • Lets Player DeceasedCrab plays with this in his videos of the Flash Games Don't Look Back and I Was In The War. He switches the games' soundtracks, having a jarring effect on their atmosphere.
    • When he LP'd Barbie: The Magic of Pegasus, he replaced the soundtrack with songs by Manowar.
  • During the credits of Brad from 4PlayerPodcast's Lets Play of Silent Hill 4 [1] he plays 'Come On Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners, not only does this clash with the general mood of the game (though not of the Let's Play as it is Brad), he gets an ending where Eileen Galvin dies.
  • Though it can't actually be heard, one chapter of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac has Nny go on a murder spree... while listening to "Ode to Joy".
  • This occured (belive it or not) in the Newspaper Comic Doonesbury, when a pair of gay radio commentators wed on an airplane which just happened to hold a gay men's choir, who serenaded them with "I Want It That Way" by The Backstreet Boys — a breakup song. They divorced a few years later, though they still work together.
    • And a much sadder one: when Andy Lippincott dies of AIDS, the last panel of the comic shows him slumped in bed as the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice" plays in the background.
  • XKCD provides an Important Life Lesson on why not to use shuffle on a background music player.
  • Don't Russian Me Now. A controversial level in Modern Warfare 2 set to Don't Stop Me Now by Queen. Though really, you can't spell slaughter without laughter.
  • Goodbye To You, an early 1980s song by Scandal, was covered some 20 years later by The Veronicas. Their version was used to advertise birth control pills!note 
  • Used to deliberate effect in Devo's "Beautiful World" video: The lyrics about how wonderful humanity is were meant to be read as sarcasm despite the happy melody. However, it's still unsettling to see the prominently used stock footage gradually go from idyllic suburban life, fashion shows, and dance parties to Klan rallies, riots, starving children, and nuclear bomb test footage, all while the lyrics keep going on about how the world is a "sweet romantic place" backed by chirpy synthesizers.
  • The disturbingly calm and romantic background music in the infamous 2 Girls 1 Cup video.
  • Chin-chillin...
  • Legendary example of bad writing My Immortal has soundtrack dissonance in Bennett the Sage's Fanfic Theatre . As he's reading, you can hear Vivaldi's Four Seasons playing in the background. Amazingly, not even Vivaldi can make this fic sound any better.
    • A lot of the dramatic readings he does fit this trope, considering the content of the fics.
  • the Battle of Hoth with the Coca-Cola X-mas theme.
  • This seasons' MythBusters commercials — destruction set to the tune of Ave Maria.
  • Averted quite well in a seasonal commercial about the plight of homeless during the holidays. It begins playing the classic "I'll Be Home For Christmas", which seems rather dissonant considering the focus is a man with no home at all, but ends with the song's most poignant line "if only in my dreams".
    • Most people forget this song was echoing the thoughts of American troops during World War I, who had hoped in vain to return home in time for Christmas.
  • NHL player Clint Malarchuk gets his throat cut on-ice (warning: very graphic) while an extremely ill-timed commercial for Buick plays over the arena sound system.
  • How about a literature one? In The Dresden Files: Dead Beat, Harry Dresden literally powers an undead Tyrannosaurus Rex using the power of polka, care of Waldo Butters, a little pathologist in a one-man-band polka suit.
  • The Nostalgia Critic did this in his review of Little Nemo. The film starts with Nemo himself dreaming about himself flying a bed, then all of a sudden the bed plumbets to the ground. Then, all of a sudden, a train appears and starts chasing Nemo. The Nostalgia Critic then edits the cheerful themesong in.
  • A commercial shows a group of kids tossing a baseball to an object or a drawing that is supposed to be a person while a glove is attached to it, all the while a simplified version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" plays in the background. The commercial is about prostate cancer in men and how they need to be checked.
  • A Dragon Ball Z AMV with "Istanbul (Not Constantinopla)" from They Might Be Giants as the music? Yes, it exists.
  • The Dear Sister meme makes Hide And Seek sound comical. The song is actually quite deep.
  • Just to kiiiiss youuuu...
  • Occasionally done in the Classic Game Room YouTube videos where cheerful music plays over scenes of extreme gore and violence. Here's an example.
  • This extended version of a scene in The Avengers where the Hulk beats the ever-loving snot out of Loki while banjo music plays in the background.
  • Mitch Hedberg had a joke about this phenomenon, where he jokingly talked about how "We Are The World" reminded him of the time he fucked his girlfriend in a pet cemetery.
  • YouTube user dprjones uses this trope to great effect (from time index 9:44 to the end of the video) when showing just how badly the religious gloss over the atrocity of Noah's Flood. If you don't have time to watch it, the music is a cheery children's song about loading animals onto the ark, overlaying documentary footage of floods and the resulting corpses.
  • Pro wrestling entrance themes can be pretty bad for this. It might be worse for the Divas, since their entrance themes tend to be a little more upbeat and pop-oriented compared to the more rock-based male wrestlers. For one example, Kaitlyn has been seeking vengeance against Eve for allegedly arranging to have her attacked before a Pay-Per-View and costing her a title shot. Despite being understandably pissed off about this, she still comes to the ring to this.
  • Michelle Phan's Zombie Barbie makeup tutorial. Hell, half the video's content is so far off from Phan's usual videos it counts more than just the soundtrack.
  • Here's what happens when you combine the Johnny Cash song "Wanted Man", a song about a wanted fugitive, with clips from Monk.
  • Zigzagged in #TRUTHINJOURNALISM, a "found footage" Fan Film set in the Marvel Universe. The film ends with the camera crew being brutally murdered by Venom...while the peppy 80s tune "You Belong To The City" plays on a nearby radio. The boom mike gets knocked over in the struggle, muffling the sound to creepy effect.
  • An episode of Web Original Noob has two things happening at the same time : Omega Zell leaves the guild while one of the other members of the guild is playing joyful music and having a victory dance after being the first to reach level 100.
  • Travis from Let's Play team TheStrawhatNO! likes to invoke this while driving vehicles in Sleeping Dogs by switching to the classical music radio station, especially if something ridiculous is happening. It makes even dorky scooters and chicken trucks seem awesome.
  • This video combines Attack on Titan's gritty theme music with scenes from the Nancy Drew series. Scenes such as riding a carousel and a chicken attacking you.
  • The first season of Third Rate Gamer uses the Dog Ending Theme from Silent Hill 2 as its theme song.
  • The events of Pokémon Lost Silver and its Defictionalized counterpart bring Gold and the player to a 2x2 gray-scale room surrounded by graves, which we later find out is Gold's own tomb. (It should be noted that at this point Gold is missing his arms.) What's the background music for this somber scene? The cheerful, nonthreating Poké Flute music.
  • Greenpeace, protesting LEGO's affiliations with the Shell oil company and the latter company's plans to drill in the arctic, released this video where a piano cover of Everything is Awesome plays over still figurines of LEGO animals and people living their lives as a Shout-Out to the "Believe" trailer until an oil drilling gone wrong drowns LEGO animals and people, including children and families, until all that remains is some ice and a Shell flag on top of it.
  • Honest Trailers has a montage of Saw deaths set to upbeat circus music.

    Web Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The four best songs to set the beat of chest compressions in CPR to are "Row Row Row Your Boat", "Stayin' Alive" by The Bee Gees, "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen and Nelly the Elephant. The last one is better because it's easier to sing two verses than attempt the chorus of "Another One Bites The Dust" twice, because you always want to sing the verse afterwards, and then you lose count. (Incidentally, Nelly the Elephant is exactly fifteen beats.) Which would you rather your EMT be humming?
  • Sweden always seems to get "The winner takes it all" by ABBA as a background soundtrack, when the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is shown on television. Presumably the producers want to imply that the Swedish team is out to win (everybody else also gets winning songs, after all), but ABBA's song is actually focused on losing everything you once had, because the new winner took it. But hey, it's not like we win that often anyway.
  • Reputedly, at least one news company used David Bowie's "Space Oddity" for the Apollo 11 landing. Which seems appropriate when you consider it's a song about an astronaut on a trip to space. Until, of course, you get to the final verse which seems chilling when you consider there was a real danger the two astronauts who landed on the moon might not have been able to back to the ship: Ground control to Major Tom/Your circuit's dead — there's something wrong...
    • Space Oddity gets this a lot. The BBC introduced a series of school-related programmes with an advert that showed a child being dressed as an astronaut and launched into a symbolic 'universe' while Space Oddity played.
    • Somehow averted in U2's most recent tour. Concerts begin with "Space Oddity" and contain a recording of astronaut Mark Kelly while in space. Kelly speaks to the audience and quotes "Tell my wife I love her very much she knows."
    • Addressed directly when Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded a music video for "Space Oddity" from the International Space Station, the first music video ever to be shot in space, before his return to Earth. Fully aware of the lyrics, he modified them to be a melancholy ode to leaving space, not an ode about staying there forever.
  • Similar to, and perhaps serving as inspiration for the Schindler's List example listed under the Films section, there are chilling real-life accounts of groups of Holocaust victims being forced to run nude in a field, then shot by Nazi soldiers, all while classical music or peppy, patriotic pop songs were played over a speaker system.
  • Way back during 'Nam, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" was never played, even on Christmas time. The only time it was played was on the American radio station in Saigon during Operation Frequent Wind, on April 29th, 1975. Why? The song was meant to signal US personnel to immediately get to the various evacuation points, because the city was about to come under fire. Saigon fell the next day.
    • Somewhat similarly, the signal for Portugal's Carnation Revolution almost a year to the day earlier (25 April 1974) was Portugal's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. The revolution was nearly bloodless, but it could have gotten quite bloody if the forces loyal to the regime had opted to make it so.
  • Often happens with background music in stores.
    "The Muzak wasn’t; it was an 80s selection with pop songs you’ve heard a million times, and leaves you with the haunting image of an old woman, elegantly dressed, studying a row of pickles while Michael Jackson insists that he’s bad." — James Lileks
  • During the team intros for 2009 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies at New Yankees Stadium, The Imperial March was played for the Phillies while the Yankees got the intro theme. I'm sure there's a lot of people who think someone switched the songs since it's not the Phillies who're called the Evil Empire and just got a bigger, better, more advanced planet-destoyer baseball stadium...
    • Of course, some of us just thought the Phillies got the better song.
    • Philadelphia teams rally around "Eye of the Tiger," because 1. The Rocky movies were filmed in Philadelphia, and 2. Philadelphia teams are perennial underdogs, having endured a 25 year championship drought until the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. It even showed up in 2009 with the fact that the defending champions were considered the underdog, despite having a team nigh identical to the one they had just won the championship with. Yeah, the Yankees won, but they should never have been considered the favorites in that scenario.
    • The Yankees do that at every home game, regardless of who they're playing.
  • Wind-up and pull-string musical toys tend to go this way, particularly if they're of the cheap dollar store variety. There are tons of pull-string toys that plays Fur Elise, contrasting the cute antropomorphic shell of the musical toy.
    • Interestingly, that's similar to the setup for the famous Only Fools and Horses episode "A Touch of Glass", AKA "the falling chandelier episode"; long before the chandeliers are even mentioned, Del Boy has just bought a massive shipment of gaudy cat ornaments which play How Much Is That Doggie in the Window, an incongruity which leads Rodney to be less confident than Del that they will be able to sell the cats at a profit.
      • And now, the same thing, with a Babar musical toy. This hits home as Soundtrack Dissonance because How Much Is That Doggie In The Window is the last thing you'd expect from a toy featuring elephants.
  • There's a peppy jazz number called "I'm gonna Kill You Just For Fun".
  • Apparently some older computers would play "Fur Elise" or "It's a Small, Small World" as an indication that your CPU fan or your computer's power supply was failing.
  • During the Olympics in China, there were some Visa commercials (I think) that showed the usually happy victory scenes. The Soundtrack was the piano "chorus" from Sia's Breathe Me, which is a song about a person who self-harms crying for help.
  • a jazz funeral displays this.
  • The Muzak remained on in the plaza at the World Trade Center on September 11. A cop described the eerie sensation of being there with no people around and no sounds except for that, sirens in the distance, and debris falling to well as people jumping from the windows.
  • There is a music box/water globe trinket that features ocean waves and happy dolphins that plays the song "Amazing Grace". Keep in mind that the man who wrote this song nearly died in a shipwreck....
  • On Christmas Day of 1975, Francisco Macías Nguema, dictator of Equatorial Guinea, executed 150 alleged plotters in a national stadium while a band played "Those Were The Days".
  • Susan Boyle's premier. As she sings a song about the death of dreams and how horrible real life is...well, you just have to look at the reactions to see the dissonance. Hell, Simon and Piers are smiling. That's mind-screwing dissonance in itself.
  • "I Can't Decide" by Scissor Sisters, a cheerful rumination on the merits of your death, and the myriad ways it could be perpetrated. By which I mean literally a cheerful rumination on that thing I just said.
  • There is a Korean commercial advertising a beauty salon that has the Batman Beyond theme playing with it.
  • Coldplay tended to get this a lot in recent years, probably because TV producers know they're popular without actually listening to their songs. One particularly egregious example was during the 2008 Academy Awards, where "Viva La Vida" (a song about a tyrant's fall from grace) was played over a montage of Jerry Lewis' movies and telethons for disabled children. Uh, what?
  • Cracked presents: 6 Pieces of Music That Mean The Opposite of What You Think.
  • Standard Snippet Oh/Ach du lieber Augustin is usually played while sterotypical Germans are eating drinking and celebrating. Despite the upbeat melody the lyrics are telling a story set in plague-ridden, late 17th century Vienna, mass graves included.
    Oh du lieber Augustin alles ist hin!/ Oh dear Augustin everything's gone!
  • You can invoke this at any time.
    • Or not. Surely, there are times when you're just minding your own business while doing something, then some background music on the TV, computer, radio, or what have you starts playing. As an example, you're reading a mystery novel full of drama and suspense, then out of nowhere, you hear some silly and whimsical background music from a commercial on TV.
  • J.S. Bach wrote several motets. OK, that's nice. But can you guess which ones were written for funerals? If one of your choices was Jesu, meine Freude, you are correct. After all, its dark, dreary tone definitely evokes the sadness of a funeral. But you would also be right if you picked the highly upbeat Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf. Yes, this incredibly happy piece was written to be played at a ceremony of mourning.
  • A disturbing instance occurred the day John Lennon was killed; as the doctors pronounced him dead, the hospital radio supposedly played the Beatles' song "All My Loving".
  • Possibly the most notorious and nastiest uses of this trope was during the earlier operations of the gas chambers at Auschwitz II Birkenau: the SS formed a small orchestral quartet from the inmates and forced them to play to mask the sounds of the operation and disguise the true purpose of the camp. They stopped bothering later on, when the sheer volume of "material" to be processed exceeded their ability to make the process anything other than horrific.

Western AnimationSoundtrack Dissonance    

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