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"Ranka, if you are the singer of happiness... then I'll sing in the midst of despair."
—Sheryl Nome, Macross Frontier
A group of people are going through a horrible time and they are about to let go of all hope and give in to panic or worse: They could be so deprived that they're losing their humanity.
But then someone starts to sing or play an instrument, a song that rises above the sounds of suffering and fear. And everyone raises their heads to listen, momentarily forgetting their suffering, remembering that there's more to life than this, that all hope is not lost, and that they're not animals. This can save the people from falling past the Despair Event Horizon and sometimes even the Moral Event Horizon in cases where the populace has started to turn primal, which may even put the musician's life in danger while he or she performs. The musician is the hero of this trope and is very much admired by his or her unfortunate public.
The song played will usually be the Crowning Music of Awesome, or appropriate in some other manner. The moment will usually be a prime contender for the musician's Crowning Moment of Awesome. It's not uncommon for it to be or be accompanied by a Tear Jerker.
Compare the Theme Music Power-Up, where a song greatly increases the power level of a specific person or group, or Survival Mantra, which this is arguably a version of. This is pretty much what the Glamorous Wartime Singer exists for.
- Pictured above: Lacus Clyne sings the song Fields of Hope for the children she takes care of during the Break The World catastrophe early in Gundam Seed Destiny. Her Body Double Meer Campbell does the same later, after giving a televised speech about peace and forgiveness.
- The entire Macross meta-series exemplifies this trope to the nth degree- specific examples abound throughout:
- The Glamorous Wartime Singer Lynn Minmay from the first series is extremely good at this, and her songs help the SDF-1 population and defenders a LOT.
- A certain scene provides both the turning point, as well as one of the greatest Tear Jerkers in Macross Frontier: the Vajra have infiltrated and overrun the civilian "islands" of the Frontier fleet, and the populace, wounded and scared and huddled in shelters, can only cry out for Ranka to assist them. But poor Ranka is in the midst of a horrible crisis (as in, she's there when Alto and Mikhail are tryig to protect Klan Klein as she's going through micronization process during the attack, and Klan's boyfriend Mikhail dies in the middle of this gigantic mess), and the SMS squadron is pinned in the ducts as they try to get to their Valkyries. Among the despair and tragedy, Sheryl stands, even though nobody even recognizes her as the "Galactic Fairy" anymore, and she breaks into the song "Diamond Crevasse." The refugees slowly realize she's singing to them, and their panic subsides to be replaced by peaceful, if mournful, hope. It is from this moment on that Sheryl's music, which used to be high-energy, consumer-friendly rock, assumes a heartfelt indie style, bereft of the bombastic effects or budget of her previous productions. For their part, the people of Frontier embrace her deeper and tighter than ever before.
- Macross II turns it on its head when the enemy goes Genre Savvy and develops its own singing program related to the trope, based on singing ladies known as the Emulators to counter the humans' tactics. Then one of the Emulators, a girl named Ishtar, ends up with the humans thanks to the protagonist...
- This is a major plot point in Macross 7. When people have their Spiritia drained, they become apathetic and unresponsive. The fix: listening to music from Nekki Basara. Later on, the Big Bad intends to use this effect to literally farm Spiritia to prevent the end of the universe. To Basara, this is only a secondary effect to having people to LISTEN TO HIS SONG.
- This is a major plot point in Twentieth Century Boys, where the protagonist, Kenji, plays his song, which inspires many people of the now Crapsack World to rise up and rebel against the Big Bad, Friend.
- Sound of the Skies opens with an Amazing Freaking Grace performance by a stranger rallying a lost little girl, who grows up to become an unlikely heroine.
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, this trope is how Lucia and the 5 other princesses give 7th princess Sara a reason to sing with them so they can defeat Gakto/Gaito. done again in the Pure season towards Villan Mikeru by singing to give him hope.(with the song Kibou no Kaneoto - love goes on).
- Amuri in Star Ocean makes this trope a key plot point. Amuri sings "Umidorika" to encourage herself in Episode 1, and then proceeds to demolish a whole squadron of killer robots. In Episode 2 Suzu sings it for the same reason with similar results, and in Episode 3 Perrier continues the trend.
- At the end of the first season of Gunslinger Girl, Henrietta is depressed because her handler hasn't come to watch the meteor shower with them. Triela picks her up in her arms and leads the girls in a rousing chorus of "Ode to Joy" sung in German.
- One Piece has Brook inspire a village of satanists, who have been attacked by members of another tribe. Playing a Badass tune on his violin, they rally to fight off their invaders.
- In Senki Zesshou Symphogear, the heroine's best friends suggests singing the school's anthem both for getting across their support to the heroine and to rally the desperate school mates.
- In Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden, it turns out that this is the Senshi Power of Urumiya Hagas. He can use his songs to empower other people, calm them down, etc.; he does this gladly because it gives him a chance to atone after having been an opponent of sorts for a long time, imprisoned and forced to use his skills against Takiko and the other Genbu Senshi until his twin older brother, Urumiya Tegu, released him via a Self-Sacrifice Scheme.
- Very important at the end of the first Corrector Yui season. When Yui is about to lose her fight against the Big Bad Grosser, Haruna (who's acting as Mission Control with Professor Inukai) begins singing to her in the Real World. This lets Yui recover her spirits and turn the tides.
- In Sasurai no Taiyou, Nozomi's Honorary Uncle Kumagoro tells her that her songs are this. He does so half because he sincerely believes it, half to convince her not to drop her singing career career after the death of her father..
- Many filksongs, including Keep The Dream Alive by Steve Savitzky, are Music for Courage In Scientific Endeavor. Keep The Dream Alive, in particular, is about persisting in space exploration despite the tragic losses of Shuttles Challenger and Columbia, both with all hands.
- Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' performed this role in Manchester Lost. Sung by Archangels. To inspire people to beat Satan.
- The French National Anthem in the "battle of the bands" scene from Casablanca.
- Men of Harlech from Zulu probably counts as an Invoked Trope.
- The scene in The Shawshank Redemption in which Andy DuFresne plays an opera record over the prison's PA system fits this description.
- Similarly, Guido plays an opera record for the inmates of the death camp in Life Is Beautiful.
- In the John Lee Hancock version of The Alamo, the Mexican army would always play a fanfare called "Degüello" (Slit Throat) before they started their bombardment. Hours before the last stand Davey Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) steps up the rafters and plays in harmony with them on his fiddle to boost morale. Brutally subverted in that Santana's army was playing Pavlov with the fanfare so they could sneak in under the cover of night to raid them.
- Jackboots on Whitehall. Daisy sings the hymn Jerusalem, and everyone joins in as an army of evil Nazi marionettes advance towards their Last Stand.
- Subverted at the end of Welcome to Sarajevo when hundreds of people come to see Harun play the cello. Earlier however Harun said he would only do this when Sarajevo became the worst place on Earth (at the time it was only rated the 14th worst place on Earth).
- The Enemy Below. During a series of depth charge attacks, the U-Boat captain plays music (an 18th century march called "Der Dessauer Marsch") over the ship's PA system and has the crew sing along to boost morale. The destroyer escort captain orders another depth charge attack.
Captain: "All ahead for attack, Mr Ware. Maybe we can rip him open in the middle of a waltz."
- Done to a villainous end with Gaston in Disney's Beauty and The Beast.
- The Panzerlied in Battle of the Bulge.
- The Soviet National Anthem, in Hunt for Red October.
- Klingons sing as they're going in to battle; one of these songs is heard in the Deep Space Nine episode "Soldiers of the Empire" and used on a couple more occasions.
- Subverted in the Musical Episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Buffy sings about how they can face any crisis. Her music quickly draws in the other Scoobies, but it's already apparent to Giles that Buffy doesn't really believe in what she's singing.
- The Abba song Fernando implies this.
- In The Evangeline by Dudley Buffa, drifting castaways, who draw lots who is going to be eaten next every few days, listen to one of them playing the fiddle for hours.
- We Slay The Dragon AKA We Are the Chosen Ones by Dream Evil.
- Brush Arbour 's "Bugle Call"
- Plays a prominent part in the end battle in Much Fall of Blood.
- In The Honor of the Queen, Honor character asks for one of her favourite classical pieces (Hammerwell's Salute to spring) to be played while her ship is preparing to engage a vastly more powerful enemy.
- In Grey Knights, a Warhammer 40000 novel, a Sororitas begins to sing Ave Imperator (the 40k equivalent of Amazing Freaking Grace) just before a battle. The entire convent takes up the song, and they are still singing as the Grey Knights attack (misunderstanding, as a rogue inquisitor set them up). It should be noted the song is a standard chant of the Ecclesiarchy shock troops, and in context is really closer to an ecclesiastical 'jody call'- a morale raising hymn as opposed to impromptu singing.
- In the same book, the Balurian Heavy Infantry attempt a last mad charge against the Adepta Sororitas holding the Tomb of the Saint Kelkannis Evisser, as a result of a rogue Inquisitor spreading misinformation and, while doing so break into a popular boys marching song from Balur- Given that they are all running to madness, betrayal and certain death, it is really rather touching
- Double-use in First And Only. The Jantine Patricians have a number of battle-hymns that they use to rally their forces before combat. The Ghosts, in contrast, use bagpipe music - not only does it help their troops' resolve, everybody else finds it extremely creepy and unnerving.
- The Dresden Files manages to cross this with a Running Gag and usually a Crowning Moment of Awesome with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" appearing several times.
- World War Z justifies this trope. When it became clear that waiting out in the human encampments would not work, the nations of the world launched a counterattack in which the elimination of the undead was the ultimate goal. Groups of soldiers with large reserves of ammo and supplies would play music in order to attract zombies that they would systematically kill. The genius of it? The music also helped with morale. Nations played music that worked and also reflected their cultures, such as bag pipe music for the Irish and Iron Maiden for the Americans. (The latter was likely done due to the author's status as a huge Iron Maiden fan.)
- This is ideally what Bards from Dungeons and Dragons bring to the party.
- Pretty much the entire point of the Osu Tatakae Ouendan games and its American counterpart Elite Beat Agents, especially in the final stages.
- This + The Power of Love = the following scene from Lunar: Silver Star Story: Revealing the Blue Dragon Shrine requires two lovers to stand on a pier and perform a song. Alex steps up alone to play and Luna, imprisoned in the Grindery some hundred-odd miles away, "hears" him and starts singing. The other girls imprisoned with her start to join in...
- Link, link, link the Trope-Overdosed series That is to say, Order of the Stick's Elan tries as best he can.
- This is the climactic event of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (As well as the Simpsons episode where the power plant goes on strike, which parodies it.)
- Parodied as well in The Simpsons in an episode where many of the Springfield citizens were in a sinking ship and Comic Book Guy volunteers to help rescue the passagers, but says all he needs is some inspirational music to get him started so he take a radio and plays it, only for it to play Alone again, naturally.
- Both military orchestras and various kinds of political songs often have this effect. Note that until relatively recently musical signals was also a good way to communicate.
- Also, all those military songs they'd sing in the old days while marching or in the camp, about how righteous their cause was and how badass they were.
- A big chunk of military running cadences focus on the variety of gruesome deaths that the profession offers. Suddenly, the little pain in your legs doesn't seem so significant anymore...
- This is probably the purpose of Fanfare for the Common Man, which it fulfills very well.
- World War II, Normandy invasion. Germans are attacking a bridge which was held by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Ox and Bucks), who had captured the bridge via glider in a coup de main. Meanwhile, First Commando Regiment advances on the Germans to relive the Ox and Bucks and the 7th Parachute Battalion, who had reinforced them. After one exchange of shots, the regimental piper for 1st Commando, Billy Millin, gets up and starts to march across the bridge, playing the bagpipes. The allies redouble their efforts, and the Germans are routed, with the piper miraculously still intact. (Sufficiently memorable to receive a full panel to itself at a large D-day mural in Normandy.)
- When First Commando landed on Sword Beach, Millin escaped injury despite never taking cover as he marched up the beach, playing his pipes. German defenders later swore that they didn't want to shoot at him because they thought he was completely mad.
- The band on the Titanic famously played on while the ship was sinking.
- Semi-Truth in Television; who hasn't reached for their mp3 players, and later for their smartphones equipped with music-playing programs, to either calm themselves down or pump themselves up?