A good cinematic dance scene can sear its way into the public consciousness — Just look at how “Miserlou” is instantly recognizable thanks to its needle drop moment in “Pulp Fiction.” Sam Esmail wanted to make sure the songs used in “Leave the World Behind” had a similar chance to shine, which is why he sought out tracks that weren’t well known.
The director discussed the movie with Radio Times and elaborated why “Too Close” by Next was an ideal song choice, “I just thought it was really funny and sweet at the same time. That scene goes from lighthearted and playful to sad and dark within a matter of a minute, so the song had to do a lot of heavy lifting.” Of course, it’s not the only music track in the film, as some other songs include “Misled” by Kool & the Gang, “Winter” by TV on the Radio, and “The Paradigm” by Lil Yachty. Each one was an intentional choice to avoid having audiences connect “Leave the World Behind” with other films, “I do think people make associations, and I don’t want that to ever interfere or complicate what the scene’s about or what the viewer is feeling as they’re watching the scene,” Esmail said.
The one song that was very much intended to be recognized comes at the ending of “Leave the World Behind.” “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts closes out the story even though it was used for years as the theme song to “Friends.” Without giving anything away, it concludes the film in a place of darkly comic irony one could only get with that specific song.