As I took my seat in the theater, I was fully prepared to be blown away by Logan. Being such a huge fan of Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine and X-Men in general, I knew I would thoroughly enjoy the next two hours regardless of how the film actually played out. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. After 17 years of playing the clawed crusader, Jackman delivered a stellar performance that leaves little room for desire, all thanks to an exquisite script and captivating filmography.
I’m not exactly experienced in movie reviews or synopsis, but I have to give you a bit of background for you to understand my overall point. The year is 2029 and mutants have mostly been expunged from society. Logan has been reduced to a limo driver in Texas (Oh, how the mighty have fallen!) while he takes care of an aging, ailing Professor Xavier. When they forcibly become entangled with a young, similarly clawed mutant named Laura and the group of hired guns trying to capture her, the trio is thrust into a cross-country trek that has them hitting the open roads of the mid-west, much to Logan’s annoyance.
While passing through Oklahoma, they’re run off the road by an automated tractor trailer which, in the process, wrecks a truck hauling four horses. Upon Xavier’s insistence, Logan gets out to help the Munson family, a father-mother-son trio who raise horses on a nearby farm. In thanking Logan for his help, they invite the mutant crew to dinner, which soon becomes one of the most pivotal parts of the film. Without going into too much depth about the happenings at the farm, there is a small scene that caught my eye (and ear) that I can discuss while not giving away any major plot points.
As Laura wanders around the house, she finds herself in the room of Nate, the son, who listens to a futuristic looking iPod while doing his homework. Fascinated by the sound coming from his earbuds, she stares at him quizzically. He asks if she wants to listen, handing her the iPod and in the process, the music can clearly be heard. Nate Munson, a 16-year-old farmboy in Oklahoma, in 2029, was listening to Raury‘s “Devil Whisper“.
I recognized the song immediately and was struck by how odd it’s placement was.
No hate intended, but Raury’s album All We Need, which featured the track as a lead single, performed well-below expectations, selling a reported 783 copies in its first week. After building heavy buzz around his inclusion on XXL’S Freshman Class of 2015, he seemingly had a heavy drop-off that’s seen him releasing barely any music since. Most recently, he was featured on Taylor Bennet‘s Restoration of an American Idol project and there’s been rumors swirling that he’s in the studio with BTS, a boy-band from South Korea.
While there have been theories tossed around on music forums that Raury is an industry plant, set in place by some major label in the hopes of garnering a “grassroots” or indie following, his music’s inclusion in a major blockbuster produced by a major studio (Twentieth Century Fox) has me scratching my head. I’m not exactly one to speculate on industry plants, but I can’t help but feel like this was product placement at its finest.
Scratch that: at its mediocre best.
Raury’s debut album came out years ago and he’s hardly a fresh face of the industry anymore. Had the movie spot been in 2015, it would’ve made more sense. But after a dismal start to his career, I can’t see how this wasn’t a ploy by a record label to somehow reignite the flame around his name. The song’s inclusion on the Logan soundtrack will certainly gain him some more exposure, but it would only be a fraction of what he could gain had it been promoted better during his album run.
On top of that, I don’t see why the director, James Mangold, would feature a teenage boy listening to Raury. Having been released in 2015, “Devil’s Whisper” would be around 14-years-old, coming out during Nate’s early toddler years. Of course, people of all ages listen to music that came before their time, but it seemed odd to me that Nate would be listening to that song in particular based on the fact that after two years, the song’s music video hasn’t even reached 3 million views. To me, that shows that somebody involved in the song selection (i.e., someone who was in cahoots with Raury’s label) was possibly implying that Raury, by 2029, will become a popular enough artist that Nate is listening to his early music years down the road. It’s as if somebody is trying to will Raury into a successful career by using a future possibility as a ploy to gain exposure.
Again, this is not intended as a takedown of Raury as a musician. I’m not saying he can’t move on from the early stages of his career and become highly successful. Simply put, I’m criticizing the people who, in my eyes, threw in his song where it didn’t feel right. It’s like seeing a Taco Bell be blown up in a Transformers movie and just knowing that the fast-food giant paid fat stacks for that placement, making its inclusion seems so much less organic or fitting.
Of course, to somebody who was previously unfamiliar with Raury’s work, this was just a quick snippet of a track that they most likely won’t come in contact with ever again. And to devoted fans, this would be a huge win to hear Raury featured on the big screen. But to me, somebody who’s casually indifferent but is aware of his career, hearing “Devil’s Whisper” in Logan rubbed me the wrong way. Whether or not it was because of a hidden record label that planted him, we’ll never know. And it certainly didn’t take away from the fantastic movie in the slightest. If anything, it reminded me that when big business is involved, be it movie studios or record labels, everyone is always vying for our attention, even when we least expect it.
Except Logan. He just wants to get drunk and go buy a boat.