Anyone who has played a sport to some capacity knows that the crippling jaws of defeat create some of the most vivid memories -- sometimes as much as a victory. In Friday Night Lights, the Permian Panthers of Odessa, Texas fight against adversity and make their way to the high school football state championships, only to be defeated by the dreadful Dallas Carter Cowboys. One of the more significant moments in the film shows the final push of the Panthers ending on the one-yard line in the ultimate "shoulda, coulda, woulda" moment. The action on the screen is eclipsed by the a score from Explosions In The Sky -- the band who helped compose the entire soundtrack for the film.
As Mike Winchell, the Panthers' quarterback, makes his valiant push to the end zone, a simple arrangement of strings and drums give the viewer a sense of hope. Will he make it? He shed one tackle... He shed another... IS HE IN?! Unfortunately, the answer is no and, all the while, the music does its part to make us believe that he has a shot at making history. When we are made aware that he comes in short, the score comes to a dead stop as the Cowboys rush the field and the Panthers sit in disbelief. It's at this moment that you realize you are out of your seat with your hands raised in victory, only to have your hopes, along with all of Permian, smashed by the haunting arrangement of a sardonic guitar.
Composers such as Clint Mansell and Alan Silvestri claim that music has to do with the "human connection" and that the music often "[lives] on after the film (Daily Variety)." I know that, for me, the score synced up perfectly with what was on the screen. During all of those Friday nights in high school, I would have a song similar to the one in the movie going on in my head. It kept me motivated. It was almost like I was a superhero and needed a cool theme song to accompany what I was doing on the field. There is a clear connection in all of us between doing something important and inspirational music. A certain ethos has linked our emotions with "epic" music and, in this case, taking the trophy back to Odessa (Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 42).
All in all, Friday Night Lights' score is altogether enthralling and mystical. It sets the stage of West Texas football to the tee. This specific scene is no different; creating the perfect environment for a final push from the team and their demise. I give this scene three missed opportunities out of three.