The power of music on screen grows stronger each year.
In the past 12 months or so, “Stranger Things” saw ’80s British icon Kate Bush become a superstar stateside as her song “Running Up That Hill” featured in one of the most talked about scenes of the year; “Yellowjackets” reenergized ’90s gems both well-known and temporarily forgotten; “Euphoria” continued to dominate Shazam; and classic artists such as Fleetwood Mac and Marvin Gaye found new audiences through placements on “Our Flag Means Death” and “Atlanta,” respectively. Songs that didn’t connect when they were released did so through appearances on trailers and video games. Ahead of the 13th Guild of Music Supervisors Awards, scheduled for March 5, Variety puts a spotlight on music supervisors who have been shaping the way viewers interact and consume music. (Asterisks indicate 2023 Guild of Music Supervisors nominees.)
“Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Cyrano,” “Belfast”
Bentham has an experienced hand working on music-heavy films. Among her credits are the Academy Award-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Mamma Mia!” “Cats” and the critically acclaimed “Sing Street.” Taking on the biopic “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” along with fellow GMS nominee Maureen Crowe was just the right fit for Bentham, who in the past year has joined Netflix in the U.K. as director of music/creative and production. Prior to this move, Bentham was headquartered in the famed Abbey Road Studios running her own company, Hot House Music, where she repped composers and worked as a music supervisor and composer herself.
“Dear Edward,” “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” “Tell Me Lies,” “Physical”
Since joining veteran music supervisor Liza Richardson at Mad Doll Music, Caroleo has worked on such high-profile titles as Hulu’s “Fleishman Is in Trouble” and Apple TV+’s “Physical.” A longtime presence in the music for screens space, first in licensing then supervision, sometimes a sync hits the mark, such as Liars’ “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack” on “Dear Edward.” Other times, not so much. Says Caroleo, “Once, I found a song that worked so incredibly for a scene, it was as if they had shot and edited the entire sequence to it. We pitched it and they promptly said it wasn’t what they were looking for. Years later, I still haven’t recovered from that.”
“Barbarian,” “Goodnight Mommy,” “Biosphere”
Ennis has quickly become the go-to music supervisor for action/adventure and suspense/horror due to her ear-catching work on Prime Video’s “Goodnight Mommy” and the critically acclaimed “Biosphere.” Ennis’ skills go far beyond nailbiters, however, with her stellar curation [alongside Susan Jacobs] on “Promising Young Woman.” Her sync of Donovan’s “Riki Tiki Tavi,” as sung by Justin Long on “Barbarian” made Variety’s “Best Needle Drops of 2022.” Says Ennis of that cue: “It was such a twist from everything you had been watching up until that scene. You’re holding your breath the entire first third of the movie only to find yourself dancing along to an amazing Donovan track thinking, ‘What just happened?’ ”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Andor”
A relatively new member of Walt Disney Studios’ in-house marketing team the Hive, Garcia puts her years of experience as a music critic and her stint working at Los Angeles’ infamous Viper Room to good use. She has been in the music supervision space for the past five years and has found her niche as music supervisor for Disney’s many trailers and teasers. Her perfectly positioned music on the teaser trailers for the much-anticipated sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and the Star Wars prequel series “Andor” ramped up the excitement for those beloved franchises, earning her a GMS nomination for each one.
Bruce Gilbert & Lauren Mikus*
“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Retreat”
No strangers to the GMS nominees circle, Gilbert and Mikus are at the helm of Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” including the upcoming third season. In the past year, the spotlight has been on them for their singular work on Academy Award nominee “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” where three reworks of Nine Days’ “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” represent their crowning moment. “We worked with the original singer-songwriter, John Hampson,” says the duo. “The song rears its head as a sappy ballad for a serious divorce conversation, as ‘The Story of a Chef’ at the hibachi restaurant and ‘Story of a Dom’ when a character exits a dominatrix dungeon.
“The Gilded Age,” “Pachinko,” “The Girl From Plainville”
Breadth and depth are Hill’s touchstones, embodied in his recent work: the late 19th century HBO series “The Gilded Age”; soundtracking early 20th century Korea for Apple TV’s “Pachinko”; and bringing a modern-day tone to true crime in Hulu’s “The Girl From Plainville.” Hill has been in the game for 25 years but retains his enthusiasm for the music supervision craft. Speaking of The Grass Roots’ “Let’s Live for Today” on the opening credits of “Pachinko,” Hill says, “We found a way to start each episode in an inviting way with the lead actors dancing to this song. The sequence echoes the show’s themes of fortitude and survival in a lighthearted, joyful way, an audio-visual welcome mat for our audience.”
“Yellowjackets, (Season one)” “We Crashed,” “The Wilds”
One of the stars at Jen Malone’s Black & White, Pilzer brings her years at Lionsgate/Starz to the projects she works on with Malone, including Showtime’s hit, “Yellowjackets,” on which she worked on for season one. Music supervision interferes with Pilzer’s sleep — in a good way, as she finds herself waking up to jot down sync ideas, which sometimes find their way onto picture. Case in point, MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” on “WeCrashed.” Says Pilzer, “The song plays over a montage where we see WeWork growing exponentially, due to the founder basically running a con, which was perfectly mirrored in the lyrics: ‘We were fated to pretend,’ without being on-the-nose in a cheesy way.”
Henry van Roden*
“The Walking Dead,” “The White Lotus,” “Ozark”
In the trenches as music coordinator for the past few years, van Roden is part of the small but impactful team at Full Pursuit Media headed up by Season Kent and Gabe Hilfer. Van Roden has worked side-by-side with the music for screens veterans on such high-profile titles as HBO’s popular “The White Lotus” and “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” as well as Netflix’s “Ozark” and “Kaleidoscope.” Part of the music team on “The Walking Dead” since 2016, van Roden was upped to music supervisor for the popular series, which has been tipped as a driver of music discovery.
“Wednesday,” “Fairfax,” “Catherine Called Birdy”
GMS awardee Weisberg has been a welcome addition to Black & White where she has caught ears with her work on Prime Video’s animated series, “Fairfax” and the GMS-nominated “Catherine Called Birdy.” Weisberg’s talents are split between film and television. Most notable is Netflix’s “Wednesday,” which she music-supervised alongside Jen Malone. Its use of the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck” was a favorite of the audience, and Weisberg herself. “This was a pivotal scene from the start,” she says. “We had to match Wednesday’s style and tone and how she would express herself. The Cramps’ goth tendencies lent themselves so well, everyone gravitated toward the song pretty quickly.”
Brandon Young and Ryan Tomlin*
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II,” “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,” “Guitar Hero III”
Over 20 years in music affairs at Activision means Young has had his stamp on many titles, including franchises like Tony Hawk’s series, “Guitar Hero” and the company’s flagship IP, “Call of Duty.” His placement of J Balvin’s Spanish language cover of Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” was a particularly inspired choice for the GMS-nominated reveal trailer for the Mexico-based “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.” This is one of four nominations for Young, three of them with his colleague, Ryan Tomlin. Young advises: “I would encourage new music supervisors to utilize the talented pitch people at labels, publishers, and other music companies. They will make your job much easier.”