I watch very few movies these days. Four long hauled flights last year and I did not watch one, preferring music and books. It was the music that drew me to watch Sing Street. My friend Lorraine Macintosh tipped me off with a compliment to Gary Clark about the songs in the film.
I have been a Gary Clark fan since Danny Wilson’s Mary’s Prayer following him through solo album to King L and his later songwriting, though his later pop work with the likes of Demi Lovato has more chance of being in my daughters’ playlists than mine!
Anyway, Lorraine had me investigating and when I discovered that Once director John Carney was behind it and it was set in mid 80s’ Dublin I was hooked. The Jam and The Cure were even in the soundtrack, for goodness sake!
Well, I was not disappointed. I loved it. Part Commitments, part Once, Sing Street ends up being a film with serious threads running through a witty musical feel good flick. Family breakdown, school bullying and child abuse are all dealt with as music becomes the powerful weapon to deal with whatever the world throws at you.
The seeking out “happy sad” songs actually give us the mission statement of the script. Finding happiness, identity, purpose in a world that inevitably throws up its vast array of sadness is what the film’s love birds traverse as they come of age.
The songs are central, hence the compliments to Gary Clark, and the songs are brilliant. Taking some 80s sounds like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode, that I personally ignored at the time, Clark writes songs for the teenage Sing Street band but somehow transcends the 80s to make them catchy and relevant right now. There is just enough of The Jam and The Cure's influence to give weightiness to the content. That a sixteen year old could write such brilliant lyrics and songs as The Riddle Of The Model, Drive It Like You Stole It, Girls or Brown Shoes is a stretch but then Roddy Frame was doing it at 16 so maybe.
The importance of music in the journey through adolescence has rarely been so well preached. It is sadly unlikely that music has the same influential role in the maturing of teens into adulthood today. What a shame!