What’s interesting about the popularity of these older songs among the younger generation is that they’re all tied to some kind of heavy emotion. Yes, most of TikTok was more focused on Jenna Ortega’s wild dance moves, but beneath all that was a kind of jubilation of letting your weird out in a celebratory way. “Goo Goo Muck” is a perfect pairing with a character who is absolutely not afraid to be her true self and I’d wager that many new fans will forever pair that feeling with that song.
“Long Long Time” is expertly woven into the narrative of “The Last of Us.” It’s the catalyst for the relationship that develops between Bill and Frank. Frank starts to play this tune (badly) and the closed-off machismo prepper, Bill, then completes the song, showing his tender side for the first time.
There’s a beautiful and emotionally gut-wrenching callback to the song in the final shot of this episode where you get to hear Ronstadt’s original version, but this time you know it’s their song and the waterworks start up one final time before the episode ends.
In short, it’s not enough to just put good music in your movie or TV show. What gives these artists that well-deserved bump is how the song is portrayed in the film or series. It can be sad, like “Long Long Time” or “Running Up That Hill,” or it could be an epic power moment, like Eddie standing atop that trailer and jamming out “Master of Puppets” to save his friends or Wednesday going all out on the dance floor.
I’m oddly proud of the young folks out there for embracing all this older music the way they’re doing and I hope that only opens the door for more bangers to get their time back in the spotlight again.