What Was Your Favorite Music Cue in Guardians of the Galaxy 2?

Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Photo: Marvel/Disney

The Guardians of the Galaxy films don’t look like most other superhero films, and they don’t sound like them, either. In between the thuddingly obvious music cues of Suicide Squad, and the Sturm und Drang scores of most other comic-book flicks, the Guardians movies have carved out a very specific musical niche, employing a number of fondly (but not over-) remembered radio classics from the 1970s. But which one is the best? That’s what we’re here today to discuss.

ELO, “Mr. Blue Sky”
How you feel about Baby Groot is a pretty good indicator for how you’ll feel about the rest of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That makes the movie’s opening scene, in which the infant tree dances across the screen for the length of almost an entire pop song, a litmus test for how you’ll respond to next two hours of AM radio music cues, dazzling visual effects sequences, family drama subplots, and comedy bits that go the distance and then some. I must be the exact target audience for Guardians, because watching Baby Groot obliviously bebop around to the tune of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” while a massive fight scene happens out of focus behind him made me giddy with glee. I’ve never been more my mother than when I started mimicking his movements with my feet. James Gunn knows that Baby Groot is his ace in the hole, and pulls it over and over again, but to no better effect than when he gets the tiny twig moving to ELO. —Jordan Crucchiola

Fleetwood Mac, “The Chain”
What’s the best song to have playing when you walk down a hallway in slow motion? “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”? “Sabotage”? “Battle Without Honor or Humanity”? All fine choices, but slightly overused at this point. Credit James Gunn, then, for finding a new classic slo-mo hallway-walk song in Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” When Peter, Gamora, and Drax fly off on Ego’s eyeball spaceship, Lindsey Buckingham’s aching vocals invest what could have been a throwaway moment with real tension. Ego is breaking the chain that kept them together! —Nate Jones

Glen Campbell, “Southern Nights”
Remember the distinct joy of being home alone? Not quite Home Alone home alone, but when the parents were out, leaving only a note and the glee of having an entire space to yourself and your music. What euphoria! When half of the guardians go off to meet Ego, Rocket, and Groot are left alone in the woods to repair their spaceship. For the first time in this series, we get a glimpse of Rocket in peak joy. He’s listening to “Southern Nights,” a song that bounces with a homegrown appeal. I’m barely a Southerner, but Glenn Campbell’s groovier cover makes me nostalgic for swatting away mosquitoes on a wraparound porch. Rocket’s alone time is interrupted when Yondo and his crew roll in, but the raccoon’s sarcasm fades to playfulness. The banjo-strumming soundtracks Rocket’s booby traps as he jumps between tree branches, showing off his cunning energy. Yondo and his goons are no match for Rocket when he’s really feeling himself. —Hunter Harris

George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”
What’s the best solo album by a Beatle? To me, it’s no contest: George Harrison’s multidisc All Things Must Pass, which is topped by the incandescent “My Sweet Lord.” While the song got some unexpected airplay in the sixth-season premiere of Girls, it fits much better in Guardians 2, where it cues up as Peter and the other characters arrive at Ego’s planet. Sure, it’s a little on the nose to play such a religious song just as Ego is humbly admitting to our heroes that he’s a god, but the song’s Wall of Sound production just suits the more-more-more maximalism of Ego’s beautiful home, and Harrison’s yearning pleas — “I really want to know you / I really want to go with you” — perfectly mirror Peter’s paternal longing. —Kyle Buchanan

Looking Glass, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”
Who among us hasn’t felt as though a popular song was speaking directly about our lives? And who among us hasn’t then foolishly taken that song’s lyrics as advice about how to move forward? Guardians 2 presents viewers with that kind of eminently human experience, albeit in a scene co-starring a living planet. When Ego provides a textual analysis of Looking Glass’s “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” it’s a high point for the film: The humor comes not from gags or references, but from genuine, relatable character beats. Peter is a music obsessive and a kid with severe daddy issues, so when his long-lost papa says “Brandy” is about how both father and son need to abandon people they love in order to live their best lives, we laugh because we’re seeing a classic Tarantino-style Hey, maaaan, did you ever really think about this song? monologue, but we also feel the hair on the back of our necks stand up — no truly benevolent sage would use such a killer tune for that kind of questionable purpose. It also rocks because the song, like Brandy, is indeed quite fine. —Abraham Riesman

What Was Your Favorite Music Cue in Guardians 2?