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Guardians 3 And The Super Mario Bros Movie Have The Same Needle Drop (But The Former Does It Better)

The following article contains spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."

Needle drops in films can serve various functions. They can make it clear what time period a project is set in, establish a mood, or serve as a gateway into a character's psyche. At their worst, they're forgettable background noise. At their best, they can completely change the context of a scene and even bring a song back into the zeitgeist, much like "Stranger Things" Season 4 did for "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush. And with thousands of pop songs to choose from, it's always interesting to analyze how different films use the same song in different ways. 

Despite achieving perfection for its use in "Shrek 2," many films continue to use "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler. In 2023 alone, three films have used this song — "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," "Tetris," and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." That last one is interesting because it also shares a needle drop with another blockbuster film based on a beloved franchise with Chris Pratt in the lead role. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" uses "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" by Beastie Boys early on in its run. This same song comes up in Peter Quill's (Pratt) Zune right before an epic action sequence in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3."

Every movie could probably benefit from a Beastie Boys needle drop, but the two films side-by-side serve as an interesting case study as to how to properly use needle drops to make them have a lasting impact as opposed to throwing a song in a movie just because. 

Mario's No Sleep Till Brooklyn will put you to sleep

Early in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," the titular brothers are trying to get to a job site. To get there, they traverse through construction sites set to the tune of "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." They live in Brooklyn, in case we forgot to mention that, and that's about as far as the needle drop goes. 

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" has an interesting cacophony of music choices. There's instrumental music that incorporates notes from famous "Super Mario" games, and there are also pop songs from the 1980s, seeing how that's the decade Mario was first introduced. Among these pop song inclusions are "Holding Out for a Hero," "Take On Me," and, of course, "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." The song's usage in the film washes over you. Yes, you get vaguely whisked away to a simpler era where you could go to the mall with a pocket full of quarters and have a good time, but it has no meaning beyond that. It exists to reference Mario as a pop culture fixation of the '80s. 

After all, it's not even clear that the movie itself takes place in the 1980s. Everything looks fairly modern, so it's safe to say it's supposed to take place in the present day, but all of the '80s songs exist to evoke a sense of nostalgia that doesn't feel earned. It's music for music's sake and is unlikely to turn any kids in the audience into Beastie Boys fans. Now, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" on the other hand ...

Guardians of the Galaxy trash hotels like it's going out of style

James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies have always been intertwined with music from the opening moments where Peter Quill traverses a cave while listening to "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone. But the music played a role in his character, too, as the cassette was a final gift from his mother before she died. Over the next two movies, he would receive other music capsules so that he could hear new songs, and part of the playlist in the Zune he got at the end of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" was "No Sleep Till Brooklyn."

Peter starts playing the song right before they go up against the High Evolutionary's (Chukwudi Iwuji) forces, with the song serving as a fantastic tempo for the ensuing carnage. Not only is the music great, but each Guardian gets their own moment to shine to show off their particular set of skills. The song choice does what a good needle drop should do; it takes a scene that's already great and elevates it into something that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. 

"No Sleep Till Brooklyn" instantly makes the action scene one of the best in the entire MCU, giving the audience a moment to let loose and have fun before some of the more emotional beats later on, where Rocket confronts the High Evolutionary. Gunn may have never been able to incorporate "Cruel To Be Kind" by Nick Lowe into a "Guardians" movie, but he proved that he has an expert ear for music that hopefully he'll take with him into DC.