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Profound by Pop Song

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The Messiah: Oh! Reach out in the darkness my brother and you may find a friend.
Nick: That your schtick? "Hippie Jesus spouting song-lyrics"?
The Messiah: If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife.
Nick: How does that one make any goddamn sense in context to what we were talking about?

When you're Mistaken for Profound when you quote a song you like, whether that was the intended effect or not.

Sometimes this is treated as a form of Simple-Minded Wisdom; "love is all you need" since wealth and luxuries can't beat The Power of Love, or "every rose has its thorn" and you can find fulfillment in taking the bad along with the good. Effective users of the trope are usually Erudite Stoners, Junkie Prophets, stranded time-travelers or Hippie Jesus, all of them using the language of the music at the time to convey genuinely profound messages to their Culerr, "apostles." If the dispenser of wisdom gives a quote with no context or if it has no actual relevance to anything, then that makes it both an Ice-Cream Koan and That Reminds Me of a Song.

Sub-Trope of Feigning Intelligence, Shout-Out, and Waxing Lyrical. Not to be confused with Suspiciously Apropos Music, where a song appropriate to the mood just happens to be playing at the moment. See also All Hail the Great God Mickey!, where song lyrics from the present are mistaken for scripture in the future, and Gratuitous Latin, where people use Latin words for similar reasons.


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  • This commercial by Nortel features a CEO giving an inspirational speech to his company consisting of the Word Salad lyrics of "Come Together" by The Beatles. His employees watching the broadcast eventually break into song while he continues straight-faced.

    Comic Books 
  • In Great Lakes Avengers, Mr. Immortal talks Maelstrom into suicide by quoting lyrics from "One" by Three Dog Night, telling him that as the only known product of a union between a Deviant and an Eternal, he's always going to feel alone and ending the universe won't cure him. Surprisingly, this works, and Maelstrom blows his own head off.
  • In V for Vendetta, V occasionally quotes song lyrics, knowing that Evey will find them profound because she's too young to remember most of the classic rock songs. Towards the end, she's infuriated when one of his cryptic messages is that he's "waiting for the man" — by that point, she's spent enough time listening to his old records that she recognizes the reference.

  • Between My Brother and Me: Mors Omnibus: Yvonne and Yusho have to duel Yuya and Zarc in an Action Duel. Yusho's been trying everything he can to free Yuya from Zarc's control, so Yvonne uses lines from Creature Feature's "Aim For the Head" as inspiration.
    Yvonne: This is a test of strength and your will to survive. And if you give up now, they're gonna eat you alive.
    Yusho: Then how do we stop them?
    Yvonne: [pulling out knife] I suggest that with a loaded gun and a steady hand, we just might live through this.
    Yusho: Any other advice?
    Yvonne: [taps side of head twice] Aim for the head.

    Films — Animation 
  • This exchange at the end of Open Season 2 before everyone starts singing "Close to You":
    Elliot: Okay, what I'm trying to say is... Why do these birds and ducks suddenly appear... ...every time you're near? Unless, like me... ...they long to be close to you.
    Giselle: Oh, Elliot, that's the most romantic thing...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bill & Ted:
    • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: Bill and Ted meet Socrates, and try to impress him with their philosophical knowledge by quoting Kansas's "Dust in the Wind". But they don't speak Greek, and English as a language doesn't exist in Socrates's time, so he doesn't speak their language. So they try to pantomime it. Socrates is impressed with their revelation... but completely misinterprets it as the opening lines of Days of Our Lives.
      Ted: "All we are is dust in the wind", Dude.
      Socrates: (Blank stare)
      Bill: (dips his hand in the sand Socrates was using) Dust. (let's sand fall from his hands and blows them clear) Wind.
      Ted: (points at Socrates) Dude.
      Socrates: (Amazed, speaking Greek) Yes! Yes! Like the sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives!
    • In Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Bill, Ted, and Death try and get into Heaven and are asked to answer what the meaning of life is for entry. They answer by quoting "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison and it works!
  • The Book of Eli: When trying to explain the concept of faith to Solara, who was Born After the End, Eli resorts to quoting lyrics.
    Eli: It doesn't have to make sense. It's faith. It's faith. It's the...flower of light in the field of darkness that's giving me the strength to carry on. You understand?
    Solara: Is that from your book?
    Eli: No, it's, uh, Johnny Cash. Live at Folsom Prison.
  • Conspiracy Theory: When Jerry (a troubled Deranged Taxi Driver with a head full of bad wiring) tries telling Alice he loves her, he ends up awkwardly quoting lyrics from "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police. Alice lampshades it immediately.
  • Horse Feathers: During his first address as President of Huxley College, Wagstaff briefly lapses into the vaudeville song "Any Rags?"
  • Independence Day: Julius tries to nudge Connie into reviving her marriage with David, but his quote from The Beatles comes off a little Cloudcuckoolander:
    Julius Levinson: There's still love there, I think.
    Constance Spano: Love was never our problem.
    Julius: All you need is love. John Lennon. Smart man. Shot in the back, very sad.
  • Loaded Weapon 1: When McKracken (played by Denis Leary) is confronted over an error that put the cops on them by General Mortars (played by William Shatner), they exchange a good number of trite cliches at each other, with McKracken concluding with a line from "We Can Work It Out" by The Beatles. Mr. Jigsaw (played by Tim Curry) consults a book of quotes.
    McKracken: Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend.
    General Mortars: (Looks at Mr. Jigsaw, consulting Bartlett's Book Of Quotes, who shakes his head) Sorry Mike, no good.
  • Meet the Parents: Greg is asked to say grace at dinner. He tries to improvise a prayer, which ends up as the lyrics to "Day by Day" from Godspell.
  • Tropic Thunder: Kirk Lazarus's inspirational speech consists of lyrics to the theme song from The Jeffersons. He's called out on it, but argues that it being a theme song doesn't make the words untrue.


    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brokenwood Mysteries: Mrs. Marlowe offers words of encouragement to Trudy after her release from prison. While it makes sense for Trudy to expect a little old lady to be quoting The Bible, Mrs. Marlowe is a Cool Old Lady with a love of classic rock.
    Trudy Neilson: But wild horses couldn't drag me back to that place.
    Mrs. Marlowe: That's the attitude. And to paraphrase a favorite verse of mine, "Walking side by side with temptation, the Devil mocks their every step."
    Trudy Neilson: Is that the Old Testament?
    Mrs. Marlowe: No. Led Zeppelin. True poets of the golden age of hard rock.
  • Dinotopia: In the 2002 miniseries, Karl answers the graduation question "How are we to live?" by quoting the first 6 lines of "Bohemian Rhapsody".note  The Dinotopians find this inspiring and the best answer they've ever had to that question. Karl's brother is incensed and regards it as cheating.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Christmas Invasion", the newly-regenerated (and thus brain-scrambled) Doctor, in an attempt to get the Sycorax to leave Earth, inadvertently quotes "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King.
    Doctor: Look at these people, these human beings. Consider their potential. "From the day they arrive on the planet and, blinking, step into the sun. There is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be" — no, hang on. Sorry, that's The Lion King. But the point still stands: Leave them alone!
  • The Golden Girls: In "Snap Out of It," Sophia uses lyrics from Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" to convince Dorothy to stop trying to help Jimmy overcome his agoraphobia, believing it to be a Biblical quote due to her fuzzy memory.
    Sophia: Pussycat, you're out of your league. There are some people you just can't help. It's like the Good Lord said — "You gotta know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away."
    Dorothy: Ma, that's not the Good Lord, that's Kenny Rogers.
    Sophia: God, Kenny Rogers. Tomato, tomah-to.
  • Haven:
  • In the pilot episode of House, when House's boss Cuddy complains about House's apathy towards his job he responds with this:
    House: As the philosopher Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want."
  • The Librarians 2014: Jenkins compares the feud between Eastern and Western dragons as being not unlike the East/West coast hip-hop rivalry of the 1990s. Ezekiel is amazed that Jenkins is familiar with hip-hop at all.
    Jenkins: Ah, well, as Eric B. and Rakim so aptly flowed, "I'm paid in full".
  • Mork & Mindy: While impersonating a priest, Mork gives advice to a congregant.
    Mork: You can't hurry love. You just have to wait. It don't come easy, it's a game of give and take.
    Woman: That's beautiful, Father. Psalms?
    Mork: Supremes.
  • The Orville: In the episode "About a Girl", Kelly quotes Destiny Child's "Survivor" when asked to quote her planet's great author by Bortus.
    Bortus: "Between soul and sacrifice, it's the heart of civilization."
    Kelly: Who's that from?
    Bortus: It is from a novel by Gandis Eldin, a Moclan writer of great esteem. It is customary to respond with a fitting passage from the literature of one's own planet.
    Kelly: "I'm a survivor. I'm not gonna give up. I'm not gonna stop. I'm gonna work harder."
    Bortus: Those are words of great power. Who wrote them?
    Ed: I think it was actually about fifteen different people.
    Bortus: They must be very wise, these fifteen people.
  • Psych: In "One, Maybe Two, Ways Out," Shawn goes full Large Ham when alluding to the dangers he and Gus had recently been dragged into. He caps it off by quoting Billy Ocean to his unamused dad, dressing up the stage name for an air of formality.
    Shawn: Now I know you all are wondering... Was it dangerous out there? [...] And to quote an unlikely source, Mr. William Ocean: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
    Henry: Are we finished?
  • Reservation Dogs: The spirit warrior quotes Kansas to Bear when pressed to offer life advice he doesn't have. If Bear notices the reference, he doesn't acknowledge it.
    Spirit: Take responsibility for yourself, young warrior. "Carry on, my wayward son. There will be peace when you are done." [throws french fry at Bear's face] Aho.
  • In the Saturday Night Live sketch "Rude Buddha", a man comes to the Buddha and asks for council about the stress of his farming job. The Buddha answers by quoting the opening theme to The Facts of Life, deliberately doing so to mess with him and then remarks that the people who come to him are morons.
  • Scrubs: Dr. Cox actually calls JD out on this when the latter offers him relationship advice based on a Billy Joel song after Cox rants about problems he's having with Jordan.
    JD: Tell her about it. Tell her everything you feel.
    Cox: (unimpressed) Oh? Should I give her every reason to accept that I'm for real?
  • In the Supernatural episode "Appointment In Samarra", Death appoints Dean Winchester as "Death for a Day" in order to teach him the importance of his work and to stop bugging him over it. One person he reaps, a man who dies of a heart attack, asks him the meaning of life. Not knowing the answer, Dean quotes "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas.
    Dead Man: That's it? A Kansas song?!
    Tessa: Sorry. He's new.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): Exaggerated in season 2 when Klaus is sent back to The '60s and founds a whole New Age church based around himself, where he quotes not-yet-written songs as scripture.
  • Warrior Nun:
    • "Colossians 3:9-10" has this exchange:
      Sister Camila: "God is in everything I do, and all my work glorifies Him."
      Mother Superion: Ecclesiastes?
      Camila: Dolly Parton.
    • ...which gets a Call-Back in "Jeremiah 29:13":
      Mother Superion: (in French) "Fulfilling my hope, headlong, I go towards glory."
      Sister Beatrice: Ecclesiastes?
      Mother Superion: Talking Heads.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: In "Alex Charms a Boy", when Jerry learns that Alex used her powers to make herself Mason's artistic muse, he tries to convince her to undo the spell by bringing up a quote from a great poet, "Don't go changin' to try to please me." Harper immediately recognizes it as a Billy Joel quote (specifically from "Just the Way You Are"), to which Jerry responds by claiming that he's never heard of him.


    Web Comics 
  • Housepets!: The Demigods occasionally quote lyrics when talking to mortals, which underlines the disdain they have for the concerns of those mortals.
    • Pete tells King / Joel Robinson that when he decides whether he wants to become human again or stay a dog he should get down on his knees and call him. "Heaven holds a place for those who pray. Hey, hey, hey."
    • When Tarot goes to Kitsune to complain about his making her look like a fool in the Temple he doesn't even bother disguising his Mick Jagger impression.
  • Times Like This: Cassie goes back in time to revise her bland high school graduation speech, its new version concluding strongly with lyrics that wouldn't be written for another six years.
    Cassie: And in closing, I offer these words of inspiration to you... Live your life with arms wide open. Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten!

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In "Iced, Iced Babies," having been made an English professor, Roger quotes Prince's spoken-word intro to "Let's Go Crazy" in his opening lecture.
    Roger: You may have thought this class was about literature. You were wrong. This class is about life! Electric word, "life." It means forever, and that's a mighty long time. But I'm here to tell you, there's something else — my office hours. They're Tuesday from 1:00 to 3:00.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: "Meet the Beat-Alls" plays with this, with quotes from, of all things, songs from The Beatles throughout the episode. At the end, Blossom tries to summarize the lesson by saying:
    Blossom: Well, it's like the song says; The love you take is equal to... equal to... pff. Oh, who cares? It was by some dumb old band, anyway!
  • The Venture Bros.: In the first part of the "Showdown at Cremation Creek" duology, the Monarch's henchmen drunkenly kidnap the Venture family as a wedding gift to their boss, unaware that he promised his fiancee, Dr. Girlfriend, that he would stop arching Dr. Venture to focus on their relationship. Monarch manages to play it off by saying that he invited them as guests, with Dr. Venture serving as his best man to show that they've made up. During the ceremony, Dr. Venture (who has long had a crush on Dr. Girlfriend), serving as "best man", quotes "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield, specifically "I wanna tell her that I love her... but, that point is probably moot." The Monarch immediately calls him out on it.


Video Example(s):


Urn of dust

Shawn quotes Kansas as part of his "psychic" summation, "dowsing" the killer with the victim's ashes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

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Main / ProfoundByPopSong

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