It might seem mad but, back in 2008, the cult post-punk band The Fall were approached by a Hollywood movie executive and asked to write a song for a new movie franchise known as Twilight. In those innocent days of the late 2000s, the only people who had heard of Edward Cullen, Bella Swan, and Jacob Black, were those who had been fans of Stephenie Mayer’s vampire romance book series. Now, I’m gonna a take risk here and assume that Mark E. Smith hadn’t been spending his evenings curled up with a copy of New Moon and a packet of chocolate Hobnobs when the offer came through, but that didn’t stop The Fall from rising to the challenge.
By 2008, The Fall had cemented themselves as one of the most influential post-punk bands of the 1970s and ’80s. Fronted by notorious iconoclast Mark E. Smith, The Fall burst onto the scene with cyclonic effect, twisting the face of British music into a gooey snarl. With tracks like ‘Real Big Prinz’, ‘Hit The North’, and ‘Totally Wired’, The Fall spoke up for the outsiders, the weirdos, the disenfranchised, and the downright lost. The albums they released throughout the last decades of the 20th century have gone on to influence artists as varied as Pavement and Yung Lean. They were an astonishing phenomenon. What they were not, however, is Hollywood-friendly.
Why on earth the producers of Twilight thought The Fall would be a good fit for the glitter-vamp teen franchise, I don’t know. But what’s more perplexing is why The Fall accepted the offer in the first place. Was it a question of money, or was the whole thing an ironic venture from the off? As Mark E Smith would later recall: “Our publisher got this deal with that film Twilight. They said they’ give us $50,000 to come up with a song. So I said, I’ll give them some horror…they don’t know anything about horror, do they? It might frighten the children. But it is frightening, isn’t it? I’ve fulfilled my bargain with Satan.”
But, according to Smith, when The Fall delivered the final product, the executives weren’t best pleased. In their eyes, the track Smith had sent them could barely be described as music at all. It was characterised by a two-note riff repeated countless times and decorated with the bizarre drawls of a man who seemed either drunk, high or perhaps a combination of the two. Strapped into their pastel suits, they eyed each other hesitantly, each waiting for the other to kick The Fall’s offering into the long grass. Eventually, they made it clear to Mark E. Smith that, whilst they were very grateful for all the work he’d put into the song, it was just “too scary” for Twilight’s teenage target audience.
What the executives were expecting, it’s impossible to say. But it seems as though Smith always had a hunch that the song wouldn’t be to Hollywood tastes. “There’s no way they’re going to put that in Twilight. But if they were good, they would. Orson Welles would’ve done it. It’s horror. Their horror is some (young) guy… wandering through a forest with his eyes glazed,” Smith concluded.