Rating the On-the-Noseness of Flight’s Soundtrack

Robert Zemeckis and Denzel Washington both took pay cuts in order to bring Flight to the big screen. Is it possible that some of that cash went to fund the film’s hits-heavy soundtrack? Two Rolling Stones song, a Beatles track, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” — this music doesn’t come cheap. It’s like the Forrest Gump soundtrack all over again! And none of it, old or new, is subtle. The first song on the soundtrack of a movie about an alcoholic is … “Alcohol” by the Barenaked Ladies. We decided to rate the film’s musical choices on a scale from On the Nose to On the Feet.

SONG: Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker
USE: After waking up from a bender and getting through a call from his ex-wife, Whip (Denzel Washington) does some cocaine. This song really kicks in at a shot of a wide-awake, super-cool Whip, wearing his aviators inside. The song lets the audience know that Whip is feeling pretty damn all right.
RATING: On the Shoulder 

SONG: Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
USE: Nicole (Kelly Reilly) gets some heroin so strong that her dealer advises her not to shoot it up but to smoke it. “Under the Bridge,” arguably the most famous song about being a heroin addict, starts to play after a fight with her landlord, as Nicole spots a usable needle.
RATING: So On the Nose, it might as well be Inside the Nose

SONG: Sweet Jane” by Cowboy Junkies
USE: This reworked version of the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” plays when Nicole is actually doing heroin. Where the original seemingly has nothing to do with drug use (other than being associated with the Velvet Undies), the Cowboy Junkies’ version has the potential to be. More so, it’s about a woman whose dreams never came true. Not to mention, Sweet Jane was also the name of a 1998 film about a heroin-addicted, HIV-positive prostitute. Also, the song sounds super heroiny.
RATING: On the Neck

SONG: Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones
USE: Whip wakes up after the crash. “Sympathy for the Devil” plays over the entrance of Harling (John Goodman), Whip’s friend and drug dealer. It appears that Harling was listening to the song on his headphones. Either Whip is the devil and Harling has sympathy for him, since he’s the guy who tries to give him more booze, or Harling is a sympathetic devil.
RATING: On the Chest

SONG: Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones
USE: This song plays as Whip is leaving the hospital after his post-crash rest. There is a legion of press who wants to interview and snap photos of him. He flees to his father’s farmhouse to get shelter from the media. Mick Jagger sings, “Oh, a storm is threat’ning / My very life today,” and though it wasn’t raining, this scene is basically what he meant.
RATING: On the Upper Lip

SONG: Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
USE: Whip looks around his farmhouse and the life he lost because of drinking. “Ain’t No Sunshine” plays as he dumps out the gallons and gallons and gallons of sorted alcohol bottles. Whip is sad and this is a sad a song about a woman leaving a man. Alcohol is the woman that’s leaving Whip.
RATING: On the Stomach

SONG: What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
USE: A track off Whip’s “Soul/Funk #2” mixtape (“#2”? Can’t imagine what would be on #1). It plays after he (now drinking again, by the way) brings Nicole back to his farmhouse. The song is heard as they seduce each other. (Now that’s what’s goin’ on.)
RATING: On the Knee

SONG: Goin’ Down” by the Jeff Beck Group
USE: Things are not looking great for ol’ Whip. He’s now drinking a ton and taking it out on Nicole. This song plays when he’s at his worst. He’s completely wasted, belligerent, and trying to fix his dad’s old plane. The song is basically just someone shouting “I’m going down, down down down down down” over and over.
RATING: On the Nose

SONG: Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones
USE: Right before his hearing, Whip is completely trashed in his hotel room. “Sympathy for the Devil” plays again as Harling returns to the film for the first time in a while. This time he brings a bunch of cocaine and attempts to reenergize Whip. “Sympathy for the Devil” is Harling’s theme song of sorts, which is pretty ridiculous, considering it’s an obsenely famous song.
RATING: On the Adam’s Apple

SONG: Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker
USE: Whip does some coke and BAM! He’s ready. Since “Feelin’ Alright” played over a very similar moment earlier in the film, the song kicks in again. Seriously, guys, Whip was feelin’ all right.
RATING: On the Lower Lip

SONG: With a Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles
USE: A coked-up Whip is standing in the elevator with his lawyer (Don Cheadle) and the head of the pilots union (Bruce Greenwood). These are the people (his friends) that helped him prepare for his hearing. A muzak version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” plays. In case you forgot, here are the lyrics to that song: “I get by with a little help from my friends, get high with a little help from my friends, gonna to try with a little help from my friends.”
RATING: On the Nose

The On-the-Noseness of Flight’s Soundtrack