kaleidoscope of tropes #1: the broken musician

kaleidoscope of tropes.(1)

Hello, friends!

Welcome to a new series on my blog, one that I decided to call “Kaleidoscope of Tropes”. (Basically, I searched for words that rhymed ‘tropes’ and thought kaleidoscope was pretty neat). But it basically exists to discuss all things tropes.

I was really inspired by Marie’s post and decided to talk about some of my favorite tropes in books and TV. So that’s what we’re doing here today.

But first,


In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly. Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. (source)

And today, we’re going to be discussing the following trope:


In short, this trope can show up in any work following a musician/super star/celebrity. Said character will either have a dark past, or trauma he’s working on. All of these issues can impact their career either in a positive way – inspiring passionate songwriting, for example – or in a negative way – giving them a bad reputation.

I’d say this trope is quite common, because, at least from my mundane perspective, celebrities lives can be so easily glamourized. Therefore, it becomes an interesting concept exploring the darker and not-so-pretty layers of it.

in books


IMG_1745I feel like I talk incessantly about this book on my blog, but I love it too much. This is the follow up for If I Stay, but focuses on Adam – Mia’s boyfriend in the first book -, as he is now the vocalist for the rising punk band, Shooting Star.

Adam has anxiety and a lot of unresolved business in his past, which totally drips to his music. In the book, we can see tiny excerpts from his lyrics, which are all so tragic and angsty.

Even though his career is technically skyrocketing, it is not without compromising his mental health, reputation and even his personal relationships. He does not have a friendly relationship with his bandmates anymore and most of the tabloids are very unflattering to his image.

Needless to say, I adore Adam as a character and being inside his head is so fascinating and intriguing. I really wish he was a real person sometimes, so I could really listen to his music.


IMG_3204In this dual perspective novel, we’re following two musicians, both falling perfectly under this trope. Clay is a very successful country star, who’s been recently collecting scandals – from bar fights to underage drinking. He’s totally developing a drug issue, but pretends to be fine most of the time.

Annie is rising in the country scene. Daughter of two huge stars who committed suicide when Annie was still a kid, the girl has a lot of past trauma to unpack. She ends up tagging along for Clay’s tour and they form an interesting relationship.

Both of these characters are so awesome, because like I mentioned earlier, I think they can represent very well how trauma & hardships can affect your career both in positive and negative ways. For Clay, it’s mostly negative, as his label is about to drop him. For Annie, it’s positive because she can channel all of that into amazing songwriting.

However, the book is not trying to glamourize their hardships, like some may think. Despite showing them in a “glamourized” environment, the book goes at length to show how unhealthy these beaviours are and how much they need help.


IMG_1312Taylor Jenkins-Reid is very well known for writing her characters like they’re real people, and it’s no different with Billy and Daisy in this book.

Even though we’re following multiple characters, I focused on these two because they’re *the* characters who embody this trope the best.

Daisy is gorgeous and has every man falling at her feet, but like she puts it herself: she doesn’t want to be somebody’s muse, she wants to be the somebody. Billy has always been in love with music, but once on the road, he quickly develops a drinking issue.

Both of these characters have *so much* they need to work on. Starting with being honest with themselves, of course. But, in general, they’re both struggling with their own personal demons – whether that is insecurity, addiction or unrequited love. And they’re again two people that I wish were real, so I could listen to their really great lyrics.

in television


Resultado de imagem para nashville deacon gif

I feel like musicians with drinking issues are truly a cliché, because this is the third one I talk about. However, what’s really interesting about this dynamic is that when the show starts, Deacon is already out of rehab and clean for years.

The show truly explores the dark sides of addiction – how it took him away from the woman he loved all those years ago, and how it’s a constant battle not to give in to past habits.

Deacon is also known for having a temper and being rather impulsive at times. But that only makes him an even layered character, and a really fascinating figure to follow.


Resultado de imagem para august rush gif

I think everyone in August Rush fits this trope a little bit, which is exactly what makes this movie one of my favorite ones of all times.

In case you’ve never watched it, the best way I can describe it is with a quote from the movie itself: “I believe in music the way some people believe in fairytales“. Following a little orphan boy, Ethan, the movie talks about the power of music in bringing people together.

Louis is our main character’s father and a vocalist and guitarist for this rock band. After meeting Layla, his life changes a lot. Despite it being such a quick encounter, it affects his relationship with other people and even with his friends and bandmates for years to come. Layla is a violinist, with a perfect career planned ahead. Needless to say, a pregnancy is not part of her plans. Even after so many years, these feelings still pour into her music.

And, then of course, there’s Evan – their child. He’s very passionate about music, and this passion can not be explained. He’s incredibly skilled, despite never having the chance to properly learn it. His search for his parents and the way he just truly believes they’ll find him as soon as they have the chance to listen to him is heart-wrenching.

Just writing about this movie makes my heart ache. It’s so beautiful and emotional and these characters are so incredibly layered. It’s just truly breath-taking.

Wow! This was a long post. I hope y’all have stuck around ‘till the end.

If you have, let me know in the comments: do you have any suggestions for me of books/shows/movies that contain this trope? Have you watched/read any of the ones I recommended?



22 comentários sobre “kaleidoscope of tropes #1: the broken musician

  1. This is a very unique idea! I hope you continue on with this series, I would love to see other tropes. I find this trope very specific, but it’s also one that I see a lot. The first book that came to mind as soon as I read the title was Where She Went, so I was glad to see that first on the list!

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    • thank you so muchhh! it is! i was surprised when i had the idea, because i didn’t think there would be much to talk about, but after writing it, i realize this trope is more common than i first thought.
      hahah, ofc! where she went is one of my favorites and definitely one of the firsts i’ve read that contained this trope.
      thank you so much for reading, emily!


  2. I love the name for this series, words that rhyme are perfect 😂 And I adore talking about tropes, they are so fun.
    I have to admit I didn’t realise this trope had a name, I would have just said famous people but I love the name ‘The Broken Musician’ is really captures the artistic and dark side of the trope.
    I agree that this is a wonderful trope to explore as I love characters who are artistic in any way and when they can use this to handle and cope with their pain, it really highlights what art means for some people. I also love looking at famous people as I think it would be really hard so it is interesting to navigate the dark side as like you said it can be glamourized. I also find the role of media in these stories interesting!!

    Where She Went sounds so interesting, do you think you would have to have read the first book to read it?? (I have watched the movie but I’m not sure that counts 😂)
    I’ve read Daisy Jones and I really enjoyed it– like you I enjoyed the realness and the demons they face in this story. It was a great read (how you seen the cast announcement for the TV show, Taylor Jenkins Reid shared some over the past weeks and they all look amazing, I can’t wait to see them dressed up and in action)

    I will definitely have to watch August Rush after reading your thoughts, I think I will really enjoy it!!

    I loved this post so much (thank you for writing it) and I really hope you carry on with this series as I love it!! <3

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    • lolol, i didn’t even know this had a name either, i sort of created it, and i thought it fit all the examples i had. but i’m sure there are other names for it out there!
      yesss, definitely! i thought about adding evelyn hugo to this list, but she wasn’t exactly a musician. nonetheless, i do feel like there are a lot of elements in this trope that fit that book perfectly, especially, as you said, the role of the media and how it can bring so much pressure & darkness to the characters’ lvies.
      i haven’t checked the cast yet, but i’ll be doing that right now!!!!! thank you so much for letting me know!
      i don’t think you would have to read if i stay in order to read where she went, especially if you’ve watched the movie. because it centers around another character, it becomes very easy to follow.
      thank you so much for stopping by, sophie! and thanks for all the support! 💞

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      • Well it is an awesome name and I will remember it from now on 😂
        Yes Evelyn was also interesting because of all the fame around her but musicians do have something else about them, probably as I love music 😍
        Yay I hope you love them!!
        Oh ok thank so for much for letting me know 😊
        Of course, it was a wonderful post!! 💕

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  3. AH what a lovely idea for a post, I love it SO much and I’m so, so happy my post could inspire you to do this! I know I’ll look forward to the other posts in the series :)
    I LOVE your bookish picks here! I haven’t read Where She Went, but i’ve read If I Stay a long time ago, so maybe I should give this book a try! I ADORE both You’d Be Mine and Daisy Jones, they’re such great reads! <3 <3
    I haven't watched the shows you mentioned, I maybe saw like, 20 minutes of Nashville here and there, but I haven't focused on it (it was on tv at the time and, I don't know what I was doing but I just didn't watch attentively haha, it was not the first episode, either, so that didn't help). I'm curious about this show though! :D

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    • thank you so muchhh, marie! your content is the best; always really inspiring!
      i read you’d be mine mostly because i saw you hyping it up, hahah, and i’m glad i loved it just as much as you did!
      the show is really fun, i was surprised by how much i enjoyed it actually, since i started watching it kinda randomly. there are quite a few characters who fit this trope very well!
      thank you so much for reading!

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    • ahhh, nashville is one of my favorite shows ever!!!! i’m always happy to find fellow fans.
      where she went is quite an underrated book, i find. i know a lot of people who have read if i stay, but not a lot have actually carried on, and i think adam’s story is soooo worth reading!
      thank you soooo much for stopping by! 😌

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