John Carney Films Capture The Powerful Magic Of Music — The Flicker Flick

Harsh Bhudolia
5 min readMar 31, 2021


John Carney Films Capture The Powerful Magic Of Music

John Carney has made three films — Once (2007), Begin Again (2013), and Sing Street (2016). All these three films are very different in styles and storylines. However, their most potent theme is the power of music. Its ability to communicate emotions and feelings; to give you company is the darkest of times. John Carney said, “I like films in which the music plays a pivotal role-films where the music can move a character forward, or the drama forward, without dialogue or anything happening, but you get the sense in the song that the characters are growing up, moving forward or developing. I think that each song in this film suggests movement in the characters and development in their growth, and I think that’s good. I like that.”

And indeed, music in Carney’s films set the mood of a scene. It displays a character’s thoughts. His movies are primarily about musicians. The inspiration for music in his films is wide-ranging. A good soundtrack is not only bringing together a couple of good songs but songs that actually fit the story. Songs that drive the narrative forward and fills the gaps. That’s what John Carney’s music does in the films which makes these soundtracks such an indispensable part of his films.


Sing Street is set in the 1980s in Dublin, Ireland. 15-year old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) has just been moved to the rough, public school of the Christian Brothers. He is being bullied at school, and in the family, his parents are struggling both financially and romantically. For Conor, the only escape is music. He meets Raphina (Lucy Boynton), an intriguing and beautiful girl who claims to be a model and quickly decides to make a band so as to cast her in a video.

John Carney’s original tunes pay tribute to the 80s pop-rock bands like Duran Duran (“Rio”), The Jam (“Town Called Malice”), The Cure (“Inbetween Days”), Hall and Oates (“Maneater”), Joe Jackson (“Steppin’ Out”), and M (“Pop Muzik”). It is interesting to see how they pair up these songs with their own compositions. However, it’s the original songs that are the show-stealers here: the teen anthem “Drive It Like You Stole It,” the tender song “To Find You,” and the most charging “Up.” Adam Levine’s soundtrack “Go Now”, is a refreshing, slow, sort of ballad that beautifully works as an epilogue. Conor’s older drop-out brother Brendon teaches him the risk to be ridiculed and Raphina tells him that love is indeed “happy-sad.”

Listen to the playlist here


Begin Again captures the strange, thrilling aspect of making music. Dan (a music producer) and Greta (a songwriter) have been betrayed by their close ones. They find themselves in the middle of the giant New York City with no hopes of ever making it into music. Until they come together and decide to make the city their studio. The songs here are a reflection of Greta’s mood because, unlike Sing Street, all of the songs are written and performed by Greta.

Keira Knightley’s voice sounds raw and tender. She is not a great vocalist but it works with the theme of the movie. Her acoustic rendition of “Lost Stars” is breathy and beautiful. It is one of the most beautiful ballads — “Best laid plans are sometimes just a one-night stand.” “A Step You Can’t Take Back” is uneven, but quivering with rage with great lyrics. “Like a fool, written by John Carney, is simple and clever. It is much more powerful in the movie when Greta after getting drunk sings it to her former lover over the phone.

Listen to the playlist here


Once is a very endearing film about two individuals come together and form a strong bond over music. John Carney has called this film “art house musical.” The folk influences in the soundtrack do wonder. The movie’s lead. Glen Hansard is actually the real-life lead singer of The Frames. Hansard beautifully injects every song, every note, with intense emotion. antiMusic in their review mentions how “On “Falling Slowly,” in particular, by the time the chorus comes along, and Hansard jumps up an octave in his melody, the tension in his voice is more powerful than a scream. He doesn’t whine like so many other contemporary bands think expresses feeling; he uses the pitch and volume of his voice to remind people what it’s like to feel.”
The way he sings “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy,” will make you laugh because of the humor in it.

Hansard’s rough voice at the end of the song “Leave” leaves you with a chill on your body, the emotion is so incredibly infectious. However, the most charging song has to be “Falling Slowly”, with its finger-picked guitar and beautiful melody. What is amazing about this soundtrack is how the music is filled with emotions. Marketa Irglova’s beautiful piano ballad “The Hill” is the contender for one of the most beautiful songs on the entire album. The quirky and upbeat “Fallen From the Sky” comes as a refreshing wave. There are many other songs on the album like “Lies” or “Say It To Me Now” played on acoustic guitar that seamlessly infuses with the film.

Listen to the playlist here

Check out our other articles on music:

Lorde’s Melodrama captures the drama of being young Someone Great: The Soundtrack About Letting Go

Taylor Swift greatest bridges of all time

Originally published at on March 31, 2021.



Harsh Bhudolia

Plain, blunt and sarcastic.