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AM/FM Characterization

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Sometimes you can figure out everything you need to know about someone as soon as you get into their car. Their taste in music, especially when it's out of the ordinary, can tell you more about a character than a monologue or flashback ever could. A little well-placed Mozart or Chopin lends an outwardly simple-minded individual a bit of mystery and depth. Someone listening to The Beatles, even though it's 2237, and they're on Mars? Safe to say they're a bit old-fashioned. And if they listen to '80s rock, they may become a victim of AC/DC Characterization...

Music can convey a lot more than just what's in the lyrics, so matching this song with that character, while a bit of a cheat, is a fantastic way to convey a lot about a character in not a lot of time. This also does wonders to convey a deeper side to a character that can easily be considered one-dimensional. A mousy librarian suddenly takes on a wilder angle when their iPod is blaring Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

This trope does not refer to a character's theme song, if they have one, but only to diegetic music, often called Source Music, where the other characters can hear it.

Compare Leitmotif, where a specific tune is used to signify a character, and Music/Age Dissonance, when a character enjoys a song that is clearly outside their demographic group. Compare and contrast Mocking Music, when the song on the radio is a little too relevant to the character's troubles. See also Establishing Character Music.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Kanril Eleya enjoys alba ra, the same music that Captain Picard forbade Jono to play in "Suddenly Human". This is an early clue that despite commanding a Galaxy-class starship, she's nothing like him.
  • Child of the Storm: Doctor Strange was once a legendary bard, Taliesin, and perhaps the greatest musician of all time - and that was as a hobby. He is also an immensely powerful wizard and an absolute Troll. This means that he will absolutely give a battle an appropriate soundtrack.
    • Sometimes it's by proxy, such as getting Tony to hack the Valiant and blast AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" just as Harry (who's dad is, well, Thor) is about to strike from above.
    • And sometimes it's directly, in Unfinished Business, when he effectively turns New Orleans into a giant amp and plays Queen's "We Will Rock You" as the heroes prepare for their counter-strike following Nimue's ascension and unleashing of Project Pegasus. After that, when all seems to have gone a bit wibbly, and the song's faded away, there's a silence, and then...
  • The Portal: Alex/Static has his iPod which he turns to when he needs to listen to music. He mostly listens to The Black Eyed Peas and Owl City.
  • Strategic Cyborg Evangelion: Rei listens to metal.
  • Doing It Right This Time: After a bit of a stressful morning involving a trip to the bookstore and a non-verbal Bilingual Backfire, Asuka has the apartment to herself for the first time in a while and decides to unwind with some music. Misato comes back from work earlier than expected to find Asuka dancing around the living room singing along to "Boomerang" by Blümchen, a cheery German eurobeat song. The point of this is to prove that despite all the crap she's gone through, Asuka is still a pretty typical teenage girl underneath. It's also an example on a meta level, being a sign that she is not going to be a Rammstein fan, which happens in countless other Evangelion fanfics because they're the only German band their authors have ever heard of.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Arlo's taste in music leaning towards the more emo end of Post-Hardcore and being described by Sierra as an "amalgam of angsty boys with squeaky voices whinily describing their exes, distorted guitar riffs that used a maximum of 3 chords, and screaming" demonstrates his Emo Teen personality and that both his evil status and obsession with Candela may be as much performative as anything.
    • Spark listens to Nightcore and girly dance-pop, demonstrating that he's In Touch with His Feminine Side, unabashedly enjoys "uncool" things, and in the case of the Nightcore, tried his best to find common ground with his dark and edgy ex despite their opposing tastes.
    • In Blanche's car, they play inoffensive, lyric-free synth music at a reasonable enough volume that everyone can hear each other and the road, demonstrating their focus on safety and no-nonsense nature.

    Films — Animated 
  • Monsters University: While Mike takes the guys to Monsters Inc., Squish's mom — a sweet and cheery person — stays in the car to "listen to my tunes", after which the first couple of split seconds of Mastodon's "Island" can be heard.
  • A Goofy Movie: Early on, Max and Goofy have a "Dueling Banjos" moment over the radio between Goofy's 'High Hopes' and Max's acid rock. Not only does this show a lot about each character, it highlights the generation gap between them, all without saying an actual word.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: When Charlie meets up with Carface after escaping from the pound, Charlie turns on the radio so he can listen to some jazz while they talk, while Carface turns it off so they can just talk business. They go back and forth until Carface has enough and pulls out the knob to turn off the radio for good.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces us to our main character Miles by showing him jamming (and flubbing the lyrics) to "Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee, a breezy hip hop/pop tune, while working on some art. Later on in the film Miles tries singing a few bars of the song when Peter B. is teaching him how to use his powers, and it's the accompaniment to the last shot of the movie as well.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: Rex Dangervest has several hard rock songs playing during his introduction, including Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart", Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild", and ZZ Top's "Tush", to establish him as a hardcore tough guy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond:
  • Reservoir Dogs. The pairing of Mr. Blonde's Torture Porn with "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel helps to showcase how seriously he doesn't take the situation.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek (2009). In the J. J. Abrams reboot, our first encounter with a young James T. Kirk is him hanging up on his step-father in favor of blasting the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" (a song that In-Universe is a hundred-plus years old) over the radio, establishing his disregard for authority (and a certain degree of love for Good Old Ways, even if they clash with Federation standards) even before the character says a single word. The detail about "Sabotage" being so old it's considered "classic" (and Kirk loving it) gets a Call-Back gag on Star Trek Beyond.
    • Star Trek: First Contact used Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby" on the jukebox and Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride" during the first flight to convey Zefram Cochrane's old-fashioned personality.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: Tony's Establishing Character Moment involves rolling in a Humvee as part of a military convoy, listening to "Back in Black" by AC/DC.
    • Iron Man 2:
      • After Tony Stark's birthday party is ruined by an Iron Man suit-wearing James Rhodes, Tony requests for the DJ to play Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" as a way to show he doesn't take Rhodes' threat even remotely seriously.
        Tony Stark: Give me a phat beat to beat my buddy's ass to.
      • By way of contrast, Justin Hammer opens his presentation at the Stark Expo doing a shuffle to "Pick Up the Pieces" by Average White Band.
      • Earlier in the film he dives into the Stark Expo playing "Shoot to Thrill" by AC/DC, which will be repeated in...
    • In The Avengers (2012), Tony hacks the Quinjet's PA System before flying in to confront Loki in Germany. No matter where he goes, he has to create a spectacle. In a more subtle example, he wears a Black Sabbath shirt for the rest of the film.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): At the beginning of the movie, Peter Quill's on a dead world and enters a ruin that wouldn't seem out of place for an Adventurer Archaeologist... and then he turns on an old Walkman and starts dancing through the place to "Come and Get Your Love" without a care in the world, even kicking away some of the local vermin. Peter's Walkman and mixtape of classic pop songs are reminders of Earth, and specifically his mother, who had died from cancer the night he was abducted. The sequence is also used to demonstrate Peter's (and by proxy, the movie's) irreverence, and the movie's trailer used "Hooked on a Feeling" to set the same tone.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues it, turning "Brandy" by Looking Glass into an Expository Theme Tune for Meredith Quill's affair with Ego the Living Planet. Ego, of course, misses the point that the song's about Brandy, not the sailor. Rocket has also mellowed out a bit since the first film, represented by how he's developed a taste for Peter's music; he's shown listening to it occasionally and when he, Yondu, and Groot decide to ruin some mutineers, Rocket arranges to do it to the tune of "Come a Little Bit Closer" by Jay and the Americans.
    • Glimpsed in Thor: Ragnarok, when Bruce Banner temporarily borrows a T-shirt belonging to Tony Stark that has the cover of Duran Duran's Rio printed on it.
    • Captain Marvel shows in a flashback Carol Danvers wearing a Guns N' Roses T-shirt, making it clear she was always a maverick (and not always an Emotionless Girl). Nick Fury singing The Marvelettes also indicates slightly old-fashioned manners.
    • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker builds a suit to AC/DC's "Back in Black" (picked by Happy) signifying how he's taking on Tony Stark's mantle. Of course, Peter incorrectly identifies it as belonging to Led Zeppelin.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is, unsurprisingly, full of this:
      • Over the opening credits, Rocket puts on a stripped-down acoustic version of Radiohead's "Creep" and sings along to part of it, emphasizing his self-loathing (and the film's Darker and Edgier tone).
      • The High Evolutionary enjoys classical operas, emphasizing his interest in the technical aspects of composition and cultured persona in contrast to the Guardians, who are by this point thoroughly associated with rock and pop from the 60s through the 80s.
      • In the mid-credits scene, the new Guardians discuss their favorite Earth music before going on a mission. Phyla name-drops pop diva Britney Spears and Nu Metal group Korn - while the former is someone that a girl her age would be expected to enjoy, the latter shows that she has an edge to her. Kraglin favors Garth Brooks, which gels perfectly with his typical rough-hewn masculinity. Cosmo shows off her sentimental side by revealing that she is a huge Carpenters fan. Adam Warlock reveals that he's an admirer of Adrian Belew, specifically noting his work with prog-rock innovators King Crimson, showing that he is cultured with somewhat alternative tastes but not a snob. Finally, Rocket, who replaces Quill as the captain of the new lineup, emphasizes the passing of the torch by putting on "Come and Get Your Love", which was used in the first film's iconic opening scene.
  • The Silence of the Lambs. While in the prison cell in Tennessee, Hannibal Lecter listens to classical music just before his prison break. This tells the audience that even though he's a psychopathic cannibal, he's still Wicked Cultured.
  • Three Kings. One of the soldiers wants to listen to heavy metal music while going into battle. Another soldier criticizes his musical choice and suggest they go into battle with something soothing to calm their nerves and plays an easy-listening song, showing a definite personality clash.
  • Transformers Film Series:
    • Transformers where Bumblebee, the first Transformer our protagonist meets, actually has no real voice capabilities and instead does all of his vocalizations through playing songs on his stereo.
    • Bumblebee explores how Bumblebee came to love earth music and make use of this trope so much. The human protagonist, Charlie Watson, is introduced waking up and playing The Smiths' "Bigmouth Strikes Again" and rocking out to it, which immediately establishes her as both an angsty rocker chick. Bumblebee learns earth music from her, and while he uses a variety of songs to communicate, he seems to favour upbeat songs personally.
  • In Christine, the eponymous car talks through her radio by playing 1950s music. For example, if someone she doesn't trust tries to forcefully get into her, her radio blasts "Keep A-Knockin'" by Little Richard.
  • The movie I, Robot starts with Stevie Wonder singing "Superstition" to wake up Detective Spooner. This certifies Spooner as retro, showing at least one reason for him to dislike robots. The song also foreshadows his journey through the movie. In the same vein, the song that plays when the scientist gets incredibly flustered by the retro cd-player: 'Somebody Save Me'...
  • Subverted in the opening of Office Space, where a character listens to bad-ass rap music on his way to work, but then is shown to get nervous about a harmless (black) street vendor approaching his car.
  • 10 Things I Hate About You. Kat Stratford is introduced blasting Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" in her car.
  • Played straight in an early draft of The Wizard of Oz. MGM planned to highlight Dorothy's Fish out of Water status by contrasting her jazzy vocals with an Oz princess who sings operatically. The whole gimmick, including the Oz princess, was scrapped long before filming.
    • Even so, there's still a vestige of it at the beginning of the movie. Notice how "Over the Rainbow," sung by Dorothy in Kansas, is a great example of a straightforward 1930s jazz standard... and then we get to Oz and the whole Munchkinland sequence is a big, intricate, free-flowing Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number in old-fashioned Gilbert and Sullivan style.
  • Whip It. Razor drives up playing "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips in his Dune Buggy, wearing clothes that mark him as a refugee from The '80s.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle has "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips playing on a tape in a truck belonging to a group of supposed "extreme" sports enthusiasts, signifying that they're all talk.
  • The family in Funny Games listens to opera music in their car which establishes them as being cultured and upper class as they drive to their lakeside vacation home. The villain duo listens to Death Metal.
  • Played with in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) when Mr. Smith, a badass up to this point, sings along with Air Supply in the car, much to Mrs. Smith's chagrin.
  • In X2: X-Men United, when Wolverine turns on the radio of Cyclops' car, *NSYNC starts playing, and he's less than pleased.
  • Deadpool's quirky and less-than-serious nature is indicated by his soundtrack, at times brought on-screen by request: he listens to Salt-N-Pepa waiting to ambush a convoy, asks for Dolly Parton during a fight montage... but still knows to request something more badass, such as DMX for a Team Power Walk and AC/DC for a parachuting deployment.
  • Jackie Brown:
    • Played for Drama - When Ordell Robbie gets into Max Cherry's car, he's greeted by the sound of the Delfonics on the stereo - Jackie's favorite band. Fortunately for Max, he doesn't put two and two together.
    • Speaking of Jackie, she has a collection of '70s funk and soul on tape, 8-track and vinyl and doesn't listen to any music after those times.
  • Color Me Perfect: Mitch and Linda, who are rich and somewhat snobby, always have classical music playing during dinner.
  • The Big Short: Michael Burry is a tightly wound man with some anti-social tendencies, exemplified by his tendency to play loud heavy metal in his office to help him concentrate while working.
  • Delta Farce has a shout out to Three Kings, where just before charging into a town beset by "terrorists", Everett suggests they have some fight music and puts on "Ride Of The Valkyries". Larry immediately disapproves, replacing it with Jerry Reed's "East Bound and Down"
  • The Getting of Wisdom: Laura would rather play pieces like Beethoven's "Sonata no. 21 in C Major" on the piano than the kind of music that the boarding school staff expect of her. At the final school assembly, she plays that same piece by her own volition, giving an emotional, involved performance that genuinely impresses the staff despite their previous reservations.
  • In Everybody Wants Some!!, Wiloughby brings the rest of the team into the living room to listen to "Fearless" by Pink Floyd with him - not only do the music and lyrics suit his Erudite Stoner personality, but the song itself was released almost 10 years before the movie's 1980 setting, foreshadowing that the character is older than he looks.

  • The Martian and its film version provide a third-person version of this Trope: after being stranded on Mars, the only music and TV Mark Watney has available is that which is on a portable drive that tough-nut Commander Lewis left behind during the evac. The drive is full of nothing but Disco music (like ABBA and Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" - which Watney sarcastically calls the least Disco song Lewis had on the drive) and episodes of Seventies shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and Happy Days. The moment he manages to contact Earth, one of his first messages is a request for NASA to figure out a way to beam him music — something, anything, but Disco.
    Response from NASA: The bandwidth is too low, sorry. Enjoy your boogie fever.
  • Alex in A Clockwork Orange and his love of classical music, especially Beethoven...there are even hints this mystifies people who would expect someone intelligent enough to appreciate such music would be less anti-social. Also, some other teens in a record shop mock him for buying classical music instead of a new pop album, illustrating his tastes in music are uncommon among his peers.
  • Armada: Zack Lightman's go-to music to listen to while playing the titular game is "Raid the Arcade", a playlist his late father used to listen to while gaming. If anything sums up Zack's obsession with the father he never had a chance to know, it's that. His father, not as dead as Zack believed, later blasts Run DMC over loudspeakers to piss off and distract the straight-laced Admiral Vance, nicely summing up Xavier Lightman's disrespect for authority.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians — specifically, The Titan's Curse — Thalia criticizes Grover's choice of music for the dance at the beginning. She prefers Green Day, a band that Grover has never even heard of. It contrasts their personalities pretty well.
  • This is a staple of Seanan McGuire's work. Music is featured often in-universe, and Seanan also often includes as an afterword a list of music that she associates with the book and its characters.
  • Trueman Bradley listens to Symphony #41 in C Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart while he works because the consistent pattern of musical notes helps him concentrate.
  • In The Speed of Dark, Lou loves classical music. He plays it while he works and listens to different composers to bring out different kinds of patterns in the data.
  • In Wicked Good, troubled teen Rory Falcon listens to head-banger music that his mom thinks sounds like a truck grinding its gears in reverse.
  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman tends to listen to what was regarded as generic and cheesy 1980's pop music while dismissing anything more experimental (some of the artists he likes have since become popular or well-regarded again, though). This is used to show what a shallow and banal person he is; he just goes along with whatever he thinks is popular in order to fit in, rather than developing his own unique tastes. In the film adaptation, he plays Phil Collins' "Sussudio" ("one of my personal favorites") of all things while having sex with two prostitutes.
  • Eleanor & Park:
    • Park is a fan of New Wave and Punk Rock bands such as The Smiths, Joy Division and XTC, showing his alternative side and his disconnect from his peers in suburban Omaha.
    • Along with getting interested in The Smiths and Joy Division, Eleanor loves The Beatles and U2; showcasing her artistic and fairly old school personality.
    • In childhood memories, Eleanor remembers her parents having different music tastes with her mother enjoying Judee Sill, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Judy Collins (showing her kind but passive personality) and her father a fan of Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and Jethro Till (showing his friendly but immature personality). This shows how incompatible they were together.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cheers Carla is a fan of Elvis Presley, enough to visit Graceland a decade anniversary after his death.
  • Defiance. Our first encounter with Nolan and Irisa, the two main characters of the show, has an awkward silence broken with Nolan turning on the radio, only to hear Johnny Cash and June Carter singing 'Jackson', which, in the year 2046, is more than a bit country and old-fashioned.
  • Supernatural:
    • This show is a bit of a running example. Given that Sam and Dean drive state to state and coast to coast with nothing but a stack of classic rock tapes (Tapes!) to listen to, it provides both a soundtrack for the show and an insight into the characters.
    • In an episode where Dean is dead, we get insight into Sam's choice of music when Dean isn't around to exercise his veto power. In "Lazarus Rising", Dean discovers that the tapes have been replaced by an iPod and the classic rock by Jason Manns. When Dean comes back, he's not pleased.
      Dean: I told you to take care of her, not douche her up.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Commander Will Riker's love of jazz shows a softer, easier-going side than his military bearing suggests.
    • At one point in "Suddenly Human", Picard walks past the guest quarters where the Talarian-raised human teenager Jono is staying, and hears this blasting in the room. Jono's enjoyment of "alba ra" seems to signify he's a typical teenager; Picard hating it and ordering Jono to turn it off shows that Picard is not good with children.
    • Picard's own musical tastes mainly run to classical, in keeping with his characterization and background as an old-school, well-educated man.
  • Jekyll establishes Hyde's personality through his fondness for Disney songs.
  • Kamen Rider:
  • The second season of Millennium (1996) saw Frank Black's character being fleshed out through details like his love of Bobby Darin.
  • Breaking Bad does this a lot. Oftentimes doubles as foreshadowing, as the lyrics or titles of the songs tend to somehow be relevant to events later in the episode.
    • A few examples: Pretty Fly for a White Guy Jesse Pinkman likes club-banger hip-hop. Psychopathic Manchild Todd has a fondness for cheesy yacht rock, underscoring how eerily calm and chipper he is while committing heinous acts. Smart-but-eccentric Gale Boetticher can be spotted singing along to Italian jazz and show tunes (memorably, he also has a karaoke video of himself singing "Major Tom").
  • In an episode of The Mentalist Jane inducts that the victim did not drive himself out into the woods and commit suicide but rather someone killed him and drove him out to dump the body because the radio in the vic's pickup truck was tuned to a Hard Rock station and the victim was only interested in the classics.
  • The Office (US) has Dwight's classic rock fixation, especially the way he hypes himself up before a challenging situation. "Kickstart My Heart" seems to be a favourite.
  • In the Miami Vice pilot, Tubbs looks through Crockett's music collection and finds George Jones, Jimmy Buffett, Dickey Betts, and Waylon Jennings.
    Tubbs: Where does Crockett get his music? Sears and Roebuck catalog?
  • My Name Is Earl: Most of the music that Earl enjoys (and most of the music on its soundtrack) is classic rock from the '70s and '80s. It fits in with Camden being something of a Retro Universe, and Earl himself being more than a little bit behind the times.
  • Silicon Valley: Whenever Russ Hanneman drives up in a brightly colored supercar, he's always blasting a Nu Metal track from the late 90s, establishing him as a Manchild with more money than taste.
    • When protagonist Richard needs to get some serious coding done, he puts on some bulky headphones that play house music, full of heavily synthetic and computer-generated sounds. A recurring theme is how Richard works best when surrounded by computers, but he can only control his creations when surrounded by people.
  • Mad Men: Don Draper does not like The Beatles. He takes his daughter Sally to their concert at Shea Stadium to score points with her but wears earplugs. Later in the series, as well as later in the '60s, his second wife Megan recommends he listen to their groundbreaking album Revolver, specifically the track "Tomorrow Never Knows", and he turns it off before it ends, signifying his unchanging nature despite the turbulent decade.
  • Too Old to Die Young: In the middle of a Car Chase, Little Billy and Rob wordlessly squabble over the radio station. Rob wants a fast beat to psyche himself up, while Little Billy prefers ballads to calm his nerves. They settle on "Mandy" by Barry Manilow.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Giles is a fan of classic rock like Cream, The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Bowie, The Velvet Underground and The Bay City Rollers.
    • Angel is a huge Barry Manilow fan and has been known to sing "Mandy".
    • Spike loves punk rock, in particular Sid Vicious and The Ramones. He also gave Billy Idol his look.
    • Oz is an in an indie band and while driving to Los Angeles, he listens to a alternative rock radio station. He also shares Giles' interest in classic rock.
    • Being a Texas native, Fred is a fan of the Dixie Chicks. She has a poster in her lab and invites Harmony to catch a show.
    • Dawn is a fan of pop music. She likes Britney Spears' early work ("before she sold out") and once forced Giles to endure people hired more for their dancing than their singing ability.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Stranger Things:
    • Jonathan Byers is a fan of The Clash, Joy Division and The Smiths: all bands that are far from Top 40 and not common for Hawkins; showcasing how he stands out.
    • Billy Hargrove is a fan of early Heavy Metal: his room has posters of Metallica and Mötley Crüe’s early works and he listens to music videos while he works out.
    • Eddie Munson is a full blown metal head, having tapes of Iron Maiden and Metallica. His greatest Crowning Moment of Awesome involves him playing "Master of Puppets" - which, having released shortly before Season Four started (March 3, 1986; the season takes place between March 16 and March 29) means he is playing that by the ear.
    • Even Benny Hammond, a middle aged diner owner and minor character who only appears in season 1, episode 1, gets some musical characterization: While the series is set in the 80s and most characters listen to contemporary music of the era, Benny is apparently still big on Jefferson Airplane - he has Surrealistic Pillow playing in the diner when he first meets Eleven.
  • Dead to Me: Especially when she's feeling frustrated, angry, or particularly emotional, Jen Harding listens to heavy metal as her self-described "meditation technique," which reflects her cantankerous and short-tempered nature.

    Video Games 
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: The Apocalyptic Log that Master Chief finds indicates that Sergeant Johnson has a love of classic rock not shared by most of his troops.
  • Medal of Honor: An early scene in the 2010 game start with the POV character riding shotgun in a truck through an Afghan village, the driver a tanned bearded fellow in local attire... who immediately reveals himself as an American soldier by complaining about your character's preference for local music as he shuts off the stereo.
  • Grand Theft Auto games sometimes use this by having cars preset to a particular music station (i.e., the Mafia have the station that plays a lot of Italian operas).
  • Metal Gear Solid V's Quiet is unable to speak, but hums an eerie little tune, and spends her downtime listening to various pieces of 1980s pop music which often seem very appropriate to her personality, like "Maneater", "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Too Shy". Paz is also themed around music, constantly humming her song from the previous game.
  • Brütal Legend: The proagonist, Eddie Riggs, is a huge fan of classic hard rock and heavy metal music, and expresses disdain for the modern state of music.
  • Disco Elysium:
    • The protagonist's love of disco seems at first to be there to signal that he's pathetic and behind the times, and his narcissistic self-loathing is displayed by how he's so into "sadstyle" (sad, slow postrock music) that he knows the number for the sadstyle radio station, Sad FM, by heart and sings it at karaoke. But his taste in music is more eclectic than it first appears, with him getting so into the new emerging genre of rave music that the kids are into that he ends up codifying their genre and inventing in the in-universe version of rave dancing — emphasising his youthful spirit and interest in the future. Also, if you pass the karaoke check, his performance of the song is considered moving, even by Garte, who hates him.
    • Kim seems like a straight-laced binoclard, but he listens to aggressive punk rock music on "Speedfreak FM", hinting at his repressed rebellious and thrillseeking streak - made funnier by how he denies it whenever asked as part of his projection of extreme professionalism. Your Relationship Values with him will go down if you tell other people about his taste. The Final Cut adds a sidequest in which you can call in to the show and get the DJ to give Kim a shoutout on the air, and they will even send Kim some "Speedfreak donks" (which Kim clearly wants, but which his self image will not allow him to accept).
    • Klaasje is also into disco, and views herself as being a disco burnout, despite only being 28. (Disco, in universe, reached its peak about twenty years ago.) In combination with her having won a beauty pageant when she was 14, it adds up to the image of a woman who was forced to grow up very young and already sees herself as old.
    • A significant part of Roy's characterisation is that he hates music, and instead only listens to found sounds, field recordings and musique concrete. It shows off how personally odd he is, but also the sincere delight he finds in the esoteric and mundane.
    • An interesting meta version takes place with the Deserter, who righteously denounces 'reactionary rock & roll music' while himself Waxing Lyrical using lyrics from an in-universe revolutionary anthem that happen to coincide with those from Manic Street Preachers's "If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next", helping characterise as analogous to a moaning old rocker disgusted by the modern world.

    Visual Novels 
  • The title character in Melody states at one point that she prefers older music, as well as listening to music on vinyl records. And she is attracted to the significantly older protagonist of the game.

    Web Original 
  • In the Alice Isn't Dead episode "Alice", the long haul trucker narrator briefly sings along with Weezer's "Say it Ain't So," a story of Parental Abandonment and following in their footsteps by replicating their addictive behaviors. The narrator proceeds to explain, via audio diaries, how she struggled to admit that her wife Alice had suddenly left her, and upon discovering that Alice was secretly caught up in some sort of cross-country spanning Conspiracy, abruptly quit her job and started investigating, by travelling cross-country as an employee of one of the companies involved.
  • Evelyn from Less is Morgue is a huge fan of Nickelback, as well as a number of other "corny" late-nineties/early-2000s bands. Initially, it just seems like a goofy joke, but as time goes on, it becomes a symbol of Evelyn's willingness to love what she loves, regardless of what other people think.

    Web Videos 
  • Lovely Little Losers: In the interviews for the cereal challenge, Ben asks Balth and Peter each what their favorite song of the moment is. Balth mentions (or, rather, Ben mentions for him) "Lay and Love" by Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Peter singles out "Glare" by Sheep, Dog & Wolf. At a time when Balthazar is being uncommunicative about his feelings, and Peter is outright lying, the songs give an idea of what's actually going on in their heads. (Peter's headspace is, apparently, terrifying.)
  • Strong Sad's love of alt-rock, emo, and that particular subgenre of '80s New Wave that Strong Bad calls "Brit-pout" (i.e. The Cure, Depeche Mode, etc.) is one of the most significant facets of his personality. And the other is being exactly the kind of person you'd expect to be into that sort of music. It clashes (sometimes to the point of being a source of conflict in itself) with his brother's love of metal, in both hair- and death- varieties.

    Western Animation 
  • Many of the characters in Aqua Teen Hunger Force are shown to be huge fans of '70s and '80s classic rock. Carl, in particular, is an especially notable case of this, seeing as how he has a liking for bands such as Foreigner (Band), Judas Priest, and Led Zeppelin.
  • DC Super Hero Girls 2019 demonstrates aspects of a majority of its main characters by establishing their music listening preferences, particularly in the short "#TheSlowAndTheFurious":
    • Diana Prince prefers to listen to classical music, befitting her intellectual and disciplined nature.
    • Kara Danvers listens to heavy metal, which is perfectly in line with her rebellious personality.
    • Karen Beecher regularly listens to boy bands, which showcases her Girly Girl nature and her romantic personality.
    • Zee Zatara has a preference for jazz music, which suits her sophisticated and theatrical sensibilities.
  • King of the Hill:
    • John Redcorn loves '80s rock and metal music, early seasons would often show him picking up Nancy in his Jeep with the radio loudly blaring a rock song, usually something about love or sex.
    • Kahn Souphanousinphone is a huge fan of 70s and 80s pop music. One episode, "Pour Some Sugar On Kahn", is all about this as he gets involved in karaoke, and he'll occasionally burst out into awful song when drunk, bored, or tuning out of whatever conversation he's part of.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Storm Hawks: Finn is a fan of rock, reflecting his unserious attitude, while the responsible Piper, in contrast to him, enjoys much lighter fare. It is a point of conflict between them in "Absolute Power" when Finn keeps changing Piper's music.


Video Example(s):



In The Living Daylights, Moneypenny tries to have Bond come to her home by telling him she loves Barry Manilow's music and has a whole collection of it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / AMFMCharacterization

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