Michael Mann doesn't see what the big deal is. "I guess Miami Vice was a radical departure from everything else that was on TV at the time," says Mann, executive producer of the series.
But the tricks Mann and others incorporated, including the prominent use of current music to create specific emotional reactions in viewers, were common in filmmaking. On Vice, Mann aspired to a grand, Hollywood sense of theater. "We were making movies, in a one-hour frame, on television."
The music cue that first set the show apart was Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," in the series' two-hour premier, "Brother's Keeper," on September 16, 1984. That episode had a lofty soundtrack, including songs by the Rolling Stones, Lionel Richie, Rockwell, and Cyndi Lauper. Collins' song, which had been released in 1981, sits masterfully under a sequence where Crockett drives his black Ferrari Daytona Spyder to a rendezvous with the Colombian drug dealer Esteban Calderone. (Collins' fantastic drum fill occurs as the Ferrari races out of a dirt parking lot.) "That is probably the prototypical Miami Vice sequence," Brother's Keeper director Thomas Carter told TIME magazine in 1985, while taking credit for the idea of using Collins' song.
"I watched MTV a lot, back in those days, and ‘In the Air Tonight' was a favorite piece of music of mine," says Mann, whose subsequent directing credits include Heat, The Insider, and Ali, all of which he also wrote and produced. But as a cinema historian, he notes that "the actual, premeditated architecture of the collision between music and pictures" dates as far back as Alexander Nevsky in 1938, when director Sergei Eisenstein drew storyboards on the charts of Sergei Prokofiev's score.
Mann does admit to one innovation in Vice: the show's editors cut the picture to accompany the music, rather than placing music as a secondary priority, as was "the conventional Hollywood mode." So it wasn't just a radical departure from TV, but also from movies as well.
Thanks in part to its dramatic usage on the show, "In the Air Tonight" has had an enduring influence. "That song is so good, in terms of vibe and melodies," Lorde told Billboard recently. "It's a pretty major model for me at the moment."
© Billboard, by Rob Tannenbaum
- People are recreating Phil Collins' iconic 'In The Air Tonight' drums from home on TikTok
- Lucy Dacus Covers Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" for Halloween
- Phil Collins' most famous song "In The Air Tonight" on an exclusive Vinyl-Single
- Here’s A Rock Cover Of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight
- The Origin Of The Classic Phil Collins Drum Sound
Latest from GenesisFan
- The art of synth soloing: How to play like Tony Banks - the early years
- 40 Years of 'Melt': Peter Gabriel's catalytic third album
- Behind the Song: Peter Gabriel, "Games Without Frontiers"
- Phil Collins Names Genesis Hit He Had Mixed Feelings About: 'Suddenly We Had Lots of Female Fans'
- Who Sang the Most Genesis Songs? Lead Vocal Totals