18 Nigerian songs featured in blockbuster movies
In this story, we take a look at some Nigerian songs that have become soundtracks for blockbuster movies we all love.
The entertainment world is a deeply interrelated one, with several arms of it coming together with an end product in mind. A perfect example is movie soundtracks where most times, pre-recorded and already-released songs are used in a movie to heighten the emotions portrayed in a particular scene. While very much like the music space, the movie market is mostly dominated by American movies and generally Western films, Nigerian musicians have been able to through their music, also leave a mark on the world of blockbuster movies. In this story, to give credit to this movement, we take a look at some Nigerian songs that have become soundtracks in popular western movies we all love.
First, what are blockbuster movies?
Simply put a blockbuster is a work of entertainment—typically used to describe a feature film, which is a full-length movie, but also other media—that is highly popular and financially successful, mostly because it is very exciting.
African Queen by 2Baba in Phat Girlz
Released in 2006 with Mo’Nique as a starring actress, Phat Girlz is a movie about two fat women who, after struggling to find love due to their sizes and societal beauty standards, meet the men of their dreams that come from a culture where big women are appreciated.
The inclusion of 2Baba’s (then Tuface) African Queen in the movie had generated so much buzz there had been a star-studded premiere in Lagos with the director of the movie, Nnegest Likka, co-star, Jimmy Jean Louis and 2Baba himself making an appearance.
While on the movie reviewing platforms, IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, the movie had gotten poor ratings, it was definitely an A1 production where music was concerned thanks to their use of 2Baba’s African Queen classic as a major soundtrack.
Let's Start by Fela in The Harder They Fall
When the movie, The Harder They Fall was previewed in September last year via its trailer, it had generated a lot of buzz which was partly due to its choice of music; Fela’s Let's Start featuring Ginger Baker had been used. This had immediately gotten the attention of fans of the late Anikulapo Fela as well members and lovers of the Yoruba tribe as the lyric lines were in Yoruba.
According to Jay Z who'd co-produced the movie, Fela's songs perfectly captured the essence of black people and was a perfect track for the trailer. Additionally, Director Jeymes Samuel who has Nigerian roots and is a Fela fan also felt the same.
While the record wasn't listed in the soundtrack album as that contained music originally recorded for the film, it was used in a fight scene between two female outlaws. Truthfully, Fela’s mission on Let's Start may be of a sensuous nature but the clashing cymbals, drums, trumpets and Fela’s tone of urgency and finality, matched the scene well enough.
Assurance by Davido in Coming to America
In the 33-year-old sequel to Eddie Murphy's Coming to America with its prequel airing in 1988, the Nigerian megastar, Davido had made an unforgettable cameo, crooning along to his Assurance track at a wedding scene.
A song about true love, no record could be any more befitting for the scene.
According to Davido in an interview with Ionnawalk Podcast, he was paid $15,000 per day on set of the movie.
Daddy Yo by Wizkid in Pacific Rim 2
When Pacific Rim co-producer, John Boyega announced that Wizkid's Daddy Yo would be one of the sounds used in the movie, the interest of several Nigerians and Africans were beyond heightened. Mention of this had fans of the star picturing exhilarating fight scenes with a Jaeger throwing punches at a Kaiju while swaggering to the song.
Daddy Yo was however applied with a different purpose, the joyous after-party that came with the victory of the Jaegers and the human race against the Kaijus.
My Money, My Baby by Burna Boy in Queen & Slim
A film by Melina Matsoukas that explores the skewed and hasty analysis black people are subjected to due to colour as well as other troupes of racism, they'd recruited Burna Boy to supply the main soundtrack of the movie.
For this, the Afro-fusion star had gone the more traditional Afrobeat way, sampling Fela’s Shakara to create an upbeat and jazz-kissed anthem on My Money, My Baby.
Skelewu by Davido in Queen of Katwe
In Queen of Katwe, the protagonist makes it out of the slums of Katwe to become a female Master candidate of chess.
Produced by Mira Nair while starring Kenyan-Mexican screen star, Lupita Nyong'o, Davido’s Skelewu was one of the vibrant Afropop records applied to the soundtrack to in their words ‘enliven an introspective score,’ and was also included in the soundtrack album as well.
Sekem by MC Galaxy in Queen of Katwe
MC Galaxy’s Sekem is another Afropop record from a Nigerian artiste used in lightening the Disney film, Queen of Katwe. Likewise Skelewu, it was also enlisted in the soundtrack album as one of the originals.
Shekini by P Square in Queen of Katwe
While Shekini didn't make it to the soundtrack album, the producers of Queen of Katwe couldn't resist its upbeat electronic goodness and had it play during the course of the movie as well.
Shake Body by Skales in Sex Education
A popular favourite, the Netflix series had been a much needed fresh air with its informative and detailed depiction of sex-related topics among teenagers.
And when Season 3 of the show saw Eric follow his Nigerian roots home for a wedding, the producers didn't fail to give viewers a truly Nigerian experience. The first of these was the scene where Eric had a dance-off with his reflection to Skales’ Shake Body while packing for the trip.
Oyejo by Fela Kuti in Sex Education
Made in an era of the King of Afrobeat where his lines were less satirical and his refrains unpolitical, Fela’s Oyejo classic was deployed at the scene in Sex Education where Eric’s family arrived Lagos.
Joro by Wizkid in Sex Education
Soothing yet heady, Wizkid's Joro was the perfect soundtrack to the scene that saw Oba and Eric share a kiss and spend the night together after parting at a club in Lagos.
Fall by Davido in Sex Education
Davido’s Fall remains one of the biggest records in the history of Nigerian music and in the scene where Eric and Oba left the wedding reception in a taxi to an undisclosed location, Davido’s Fall was the record used in soundtracking the moment.
Anybody by Burna Boy in Sex Education
With the need to drive home a truly lavish Lagos wedding party, Sex Education’s depiction of the reception scene also included the instrumental of Burna Boy's Anybody off his Grammy-nominated African Giant album.
Sweet Mother by Prince Nico Mbarga
Nico Mbarga’s Sweet Mother is one of those classics that have defied its digital markers to be passed down even from mouth to mouth, at homes and even at traditional gatherings. In Sex Education, it was tactfully deployed in the scene where Eric dresses up for the wedding reception with his mother present.
Star Signs by Odunsi ft. Runtown
When Eric and Oba wind up at a queer nightclub, their movements sync with Odunsi’s lines on Star Signs which is an ode to liberality and hedonism.
Attention by Tiwa Savage
As Eric and his family leave Lagos, Nigeria and head home to England, this arc is closed with Tiwa Savage's Attention, signalling the rush from Eric's short-lived romance with Oba.
Gbona by Burna Boy in Top Boy
When Top Boy Dushane finally regains freedom, there's an air of exhilaration and cocksureness. It becomes a palpable feeling when Burna Boy’s Gbona starts to play. Echoing through his car ride, down to the scene where he reunites with his friends.
Leave Me Alone by Amaarae in Top Boy
While Amaarae may be a Ghanaian singer, the new age sensation has won over several Nigerian hearts and has in her own rights, become an honorary citizen. Amaarae's Leave Me Alone was also soundtracked in Top Boy.