Cultural Impact: AC/DC – ‘Back In Black’

Cultural Impact is a column looking at musical albums that have found their way into multiple pop-culture mediums (films, tv shows, video games) and hopefully turns you on to some new music you’ve probably heard, but maybe you didn’t know the artists or albums behind it. 

Previous Entry: Massive Attack - Mezzanine

July 25, 1980 marked the release of AC/DC’s seventh studio album and the first without lead man Bon Scott, who had died just a few months earlier. While discussion within the band initially revolved around disbanding following Scott’s death, the band decided to stay together and Brian Johnson came on as the new lead singer.

Back In Black has since gone on to become the second best selling album of all time. It has been certified Platinum 22 times in the United States and it has sold over 50 million copies worldwide. With the success of the album comes the notoriety and continued use in many different pop culture mediums. As AC/DC continues to sell copies of the album every year, culture continues to use the album’s songs every year as well.

All songs written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Brian Johnson.

“Hells Bells” – 5:10

For baseball fans, this song will always be the standard of closer entrance music as made popular by the great Trevor Hoffman. It was his entrance music from 1998-2010. Here’s a clip of him and his intro music when he was awesome with the Milwaukee Brewers. (Personal note: Despite a terrible season I remain a steadfast Brewer fan . . . go Crew!)

“Shoot to Thrill” – 5:17

One of the most popular tracks on the album, it’s also one of the most widely used. First off, to many, it is likely the iconic theme to Iron Man as seen in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. It’s also been used in commercials for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It’s been used in other films including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky BobbyxXx: State of the Union, and The Dukes of Hazzard.

(Excuse the quality)

“Back in Black” – 4:14

You could argue that the album’s namesake is also the most used. Just take a quick look at a selection of uses. Alias‘ now infamous opener for episode “Phase One,” the introduction of Tony Stark in Iron Man, The Karate Kid (2010), School of Rock, Megamind, The Smurfs (2011), and The Muppets. It is used in video games (AC/DC’s Rock Band) and sports (Iowa’s football team’s field entrance music). It just fits for about any action scene. It’s become a staple—hell, it could be considered a cliché.

“You Shook Me All Night Long” – 3:30

Given the popularity of the song, you’d think it would be used just as much as the previously mentioned tracks, but I was able to only find a few uses. The closing credits of A Knight’s Tale, the closing credits of the season one finale of New Girl, and the “previously on” scenes of Supernatural season 4.

“Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” – 4:15

It’s the last track on the album and ended up being the highest single on the charts in the UK. It is used as Minnesota Twins’ Justin Morneau as his walk-up music. It was also used in a commercial by Nike for motivating early morning workouts.

Virtually all the songs listed here are instantly recognizable. Like AC/DC or not, Back In Black is iconic and has been used to punch up scenes of movies, games, and TV. As Marvel continues to pump out Iron Man and Avengers sequels, you’ll be sure to hear the unofficial band and anthems of AC/DC for just about every ego-stroking Stark scene as required.