[Editors’ note: The following post contains spoilers for “Us.”]
Most “Us” fans can’t stop talking about or listening to the cover of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It,” which was featured in the movie’s official trailer and plays an integral role during the film’s climax, but that’s not the only song writer-director Jordan Peele ingeniously features in his latest horror movie. The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” is played during the murders of Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker), and Universal Pictures film music president Mike Knobloch confirmed to Variety that’s the only song Peele ever considered for the moment.
“Jordan is very smart and savvy about music and knows exactly what he wants,” Knobloch said. “From very early on when he wrote the script and going back to the earliest days of the production, I cannot remember a time when ‘Good Vibrations’ was not the song that was going to go in that sequence. Sometimes there would be conversations about whether there should be a consideration of alternate options for any spot in the movie. But of all the song spots, ‘Good Vibrations’ was the one that was the most locked in. Between the attitude of the song playing against type for the visual, there were clearly very deliberate intentions from Jordan’s perspective about why that was a great creative choice for that sequence.”
N.W.A’s “Fuck tha Police” is also featured during the scene, introduced as a joke when Kitty calls for an Apple Home-like device to call the police but instead the technology begins playing the rap song. Unlike “Good Vibrations,” “Fuck that Police” was not written into Peele’s script and the director had a trial and error period where he spent time figuring out the perfect song to play throughout the remainder of the set piece. The joke was originally going to pay off by having a song from The Police play after Kitty’s request.
“Obviously there’s an initial joke, but then it’s a pretty significant use of that song,” Knobloch said. “It goes on for a while. Something a minute and a half or two minutes could be an eternity when you’re talking about a needle drop in a film. So you have creatively all the considerations of: Is it the right energy? Does it feel right against the sequence? Does it propel the story?…For the first significant portion of post-production, there was something else in that spot that worked really well, but tempo-wise it was a bit mellower, and I don’t know if it was as fun of a song.”
As Knobloch explained, the N.W.A song fit perfectly into the scene in both tempo and duration. “There were research screenings along the way where Jordan got to try cutting one in versus the other,” he said. “And I think it became very clear at a critical point in the process that N.W.A was a much more satisfying choice for himself and for audiences that were seeing the movie.. It oesn’t overstay its welcome, and it ends up being a really satisfying underscore to that sequence.”