What were you expecting from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Epic space battles? Of course. Lots of jokes from a talking raccoon? Sure.
A deep philosophical discussion of the lyrics to Looking Glass’s ‘70s classic “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”? Probably not.
And yet, the song is a hit once again, 45 years after it originally topped the charts and cemented its status among the great one-hit wonders. It’ll get plenty of attention as part of the film’s “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” soundtrack (the first was certified platinum in 2014), and its Spotify streaming has gone thrugh the roof. People are playing the track on that music service almost 2,000 percent more since the film came out, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
For Elliot Lurie, who wrote and sang lead vocals on the song in 1972, it’s a welcome second life for his hit.
“The first Guardians is not the type of movie that I would normally watch, but I had heard so many great things that I put the DVD in and from the first moment I was hooked,” Lurie told THR. “I got a request from my music publisher about nine months ago to use 'Brandy’ for sequel [sic], and I immediately said we have got to get this into these great movies. And then I started to read scene descriptions sent over to the publisher and I said, 'Wow, this is more than a background tune. This is really in the story.’”
(SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ahead)
Like fellow filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, Guardians writer/director James Gunn uses pop music in the films to set a very specfic tone. Then he goes further, taking the idea of popular songs soundtracking someone’s life to a literal extreme. The music in Guardians isn’t just a cool retro soundtrack; it’s Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) main connection to his home on Earth and his departed mother. That gives song like “Come and Get Your Love” and “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” a deeper meaning for the characters. Plus, teens are now running around malls with The Sweet’s “Fox On The Run” in their earbuds. Everyone wins.
In Vol. 2, that personal connection to the music digs even deeper as it’s revealed that Peter’s father, Ego (Kurt Russell), found understanding of his own purpose in “Brandy,” of all things. The sailor’s love of the sea (“my life, my lover, my lady”) sends him away from Brandy just as Ego’s love of space and his own creations pulls him away from Peter’s mother. Of course, he ultimately reveals he gave her cancer and now he’s going to basically assimilate every living thing into his own being because he’s a power-mad space-god, but still.
Gunn’s use of “Brandy” (and his awesome use of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” in the climactic battle) represents the closest connection between music and story in Guardians or any other Marvel movie yet. In many ways it’s a perfect encapsulation of the blend of character, humor and pop culture references that is the Guardians franchise. Now, Peter’s got his trusty Zune and a few hundred new songs to get to know, so maybe Vol. 3 will incude an intense interpretation of Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time.”