A personal and critical anthem about capitalism in the soundtrack of The Crown

Those who follow the Miscelana blog already know that it has pillars that I never fail to address: music, costumes and history. Some series, like The Crown, unite all the themes.

In the 4th season of the series, the BRILLIANT promo that introduced us to Princess Diana, was sounded with a hit from the 1980s, How Soon Is Now, by The Smiths in a new, more intimate version with lead singer Dresage. It was a smart choice because the decade addressed in the season was precisely the one the British band exploded and although the song is about depression and homophobia, it also applied to the moment when the “heir” (quoted in the lyrics) referred to Charles. After a longer hiatus, Season 5 premieres in a few weeks and the trailer with images was released today. OF COURSE the musical selection is perfect and deserves to be highlighted.

Set to the sound of Bittersweet Symphony, by the band The Verve, the trailer comes with a foot in the door and asserting itself bravely by putting the themes that the Royal Family wanted to hush up: Diana’s interview with the BBC and the other dramas of the 1990s, which culminated in with her death (25 years ago). It’s not the first time that success has been on the soundtrack of a movie (it ends Cruel Intentions, for example, in 1999), but it was a good idea to highlight the season’s message: bittersweet and change.

You are a slave to money and then you die”. Composer Richard Ashcroft took this phrase, which brings a dark view of life, to make his “bittersweet symphony” of what it is like to live in times of wild capitalism.

What Richard reflects is the classic “money does not bring happiness”, as he said at the time, in 1997, about people who win the lottery and believe they have solved all the problems in their life. The singer was also inspired by the story of his father, an office worker with unsatisfying work – but paying the bills – who died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage in 1982, when Richard was just 11 years old. “He worked from nine to five and got nowhere. I immediately realized it wasn’t the life for me,” he confessed in an interview.

The Verve were one of the leading bands in the movement known as the brit wave, with bands such as Oasis, Radiohead and Blur exploding onto radio stations worldwide. Bittersweet Symphony opens one of their best albums: Urban Hymns. With a different tempo, what gets stronger is the orchestral riff of a version of a 1965 Rolling Stones song, The Last Time. That’s why Richard credited Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as co-authors. The discussion of copyright was far from simple, but it is out of the focus of the post. Let’s talk about her connection with Diana.

Used in many commercials, the band decided to donate the proceeds from these ad campaigns to the Red Cross, specifically the landmine danger awareness campaign (which Diana was the world’s leading critic, leaving her image walking in a minefield as one of her main images, something that WILL be in The Crown).



Another thing Richard sings about is the fact that it’s hard to change who we really are. In the series, Diana faces the Royal Family’s system and formula of silence, with consequences that are still visible today. Once again? Perfect!

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life
Tryna make ends meet, you’re a slave to money then you die
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I’m here in my mold
I am here in my mold
But I’m a million different people
From one day to the next
I can’t change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
(Have you ever been down?)

Well, I’ve never prayed but tonight I’m on my knees, yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there’s nobody singin’ to me now

No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I’m here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I’m a million different people
From one day to the next
I can’t change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
(Have you ever been down?)
I can’t change, oh, no
I can’t change, oh

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life
Tryna make ends meet, tryna find somebody then you die
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

You know I can change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I’m here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I’m a million different people
From one day to the next
I can’t change my mold
No, no, no, no, no

I can’t change my mold
No, no, no, no, no,
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no
It’s just sex and violence, melody and silence
It’s just sex and violence, melody and silence
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
Been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Have you ever been down?
Have you ever been down?
Have you ever been down?

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