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A gospel choir is brought in, and while their music may certainly be About Itself, their appearance ultimately serves the the purpose of creating a moment that is just real, just transformative, just significant, just... better.
The character(s) of interest may be among either the performers or the spectators. It may even be an elaborate dream or fantasy sequence that a character has imagined.
It may underscore that the main character, perhaps The Grinch, HAS CHANGED. It may be used to highlight a moment of epiphany for a character who has perhaps until now lacked a sense of purpose or direction. If it is a fantasy sequence, that character might be imagining themselves as better, more centered and more true-to-self. It may stand to prove to the world that, YES, the lead singer, often a Cool Loser, you see in front of you, must Finally Be Noticed and/or must Finally be Taken Seriously. The audience, which may be made up of a bunch of sullen kids who think that School Is for Losers, experience a Genuine Moment Of Realness.
At any rate, it narratively underscores an Important Moment, and perhaps even aims to be a Water Cooler Moment (both for the in-story audience and for "us").
This is a vey common trope in blockbuster comedies, and is also seen in a fair number of commercials and cartoons.
It is often seen on competetive singing shows, perhaps more often in the final rounds where there needs to be a showstopper. In fact, performing with a gospel choir back up on a show such as American Idol almost automatically qualifies for this trope, as it is virtually engineered to be "that" moment: a moment of Realness right there on Reality TV.
It also seems to show up a lot in musicals and 80s music videos. Here, it is often a Small Start Big Finish, and as such: a. we can almost predict that the choir will arrive and b. we can fairly pinpoint the moment that they will.
What it is not: It does not immediately count if the gospel choir is the actual focus of the concern (except for Sister Act, which is an entire movie based on this trope). Again, they serve the narrative in one of these defined ways.
Not to be confused with Gospel Revival Number, which includes such "gospel-influenced" numbers as "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" or "Brotherhood of Man," and which is largely considered a Dead Horse Trope (though there are some overlapping examples).
- Eminem's Chrysler Commercial, from the 2011 Super Bowl. "Imported from Detroit".
- A current Geico radio ad has Flo continually prompting her backing radio chorus to sing with more enthusiasm for a new promotion; this eventually culminates in a gospel choir.
- Sister Act has a plot is based on the formation of such a choir. Significant because the forming of it represents an actual turning point for all involved.
- That said, this clip from Sister Act 2 exemplifies the trope especially.
- Scrooged does not actually bring out the choir, but the ghosts appear to the Bill Murray character at the end, singing "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" in a gospel style, to signify he has "changed for the better".
- Blake Griffin's "winning" dunk in the 2011 Slam Dunk contest was a sub-par dunk that was portrayed as more special due to him dunking over the lowest part of a low to the ground car, while a choir sang in the background.
- In The Blues Brothers, the Brothers' moment of inspiration that kicks off the plot features them being sung at by James Brown and a berobed gospel choir.
- in Haiku Tunnel, the Josh Kornbluth character has a supervisor at the engineering firm building the tunnel of the title, who is a gospel singer in her spare time. He asks to hear her tape, and is blasted with soaring, striking gospel music that turns out to be hers. Now, this is done in a deadpan, tounge-in-cheek style, as there is no emotional apex, and the only moment of epiphany is that Josh is inspired to make a rather shady request to be allowed to write a novel using company time and resources, Instead of the usual "positive" turn, he has this twisted epiphany after hearing the tape, and upon realizing she might be sympathetic to "fellow artists". She does, in fact, turn out to be a Benevolent Boss and agrees to his request.
- In William Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet the scenes with Father Laurence (including the wedding between the leads) are punctuated by a gospel choir. This is jarring because the rest of the movie is scored by pop music by the likes of Radiohead, Garbage, and Everclear.
- The 2009 film version of Fame ends with this, kinda, as it does not really signify much else but, "here is the last, big, final number, folks".
- in Precious, the title character, in one of her fantasy daydreams, imagines herself in a choir much more magnificent than the one she is watching rehearse at a local church.
- In the U2 film, Rattle And Hum, the band does a version of their hit, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," with a famous church choir.
- Foreigner, I Wanna Know What Love Is. Also, Mariah Carey's version
- Madonna, Like a Prayer
- Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror. Because The World Is Just Awesome.
- David Bowie, Underground.
- Natasha Bedingfield's song "Unwritten"
- Jon Stewart's backing vocals on Go Fuck Yourself!
- "A Night of Neglect". Rachel suddenly realizes just how good Mercedes is when she sings "Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin, with a gospel back-up. This episode incorporated both the Cool Loser variant (both Mercedes and Rachel) and The Grinch variant (antagonist Sandy Ryerson, who, due to this performance, and his love for Aretha, pays for the Braniacs' trip to Detroit).
- "The Power of Madonna" episode, "Like a Prayer".
- Fame had at least one episode that used this trope. Pretty sure it was the trope but in dance form.
- Frenchie Davis singing aforementioned "Like a Prayer" on NBC's The Voice.
- Jacob Lusk singing "I Believe I Can Fly" on American Idol.
- In Scrubs, Dr. Cox enlists the help of Laverne's choir to emphasize how much of a pest JD was during his days as an intern.
- Ellen DeGeneres explains and demonstrates on her show why the trope works.
- The Babylon 5 episode "And the Rock Cried Out 'No Hiding Place!'"
- Patti La Belle and The Muppets on Sesame Street show us how this indeed may be a better way to learn our ABCs
- The mid-late 80's (briefly Broadway) musical, The Gospel At Colonus, incorporated a hybrid of this and Greek Chorus.
- Phineas and Ferb: Lampshaded in "Last Train to Bustville," when Candace sings the song "Give Up" (instead of inspirational, it's about her deciding to just quit), with an ever-increasing crowd of... clones of herself, in choir robes, singing backup.
- The Muses in Disney's Hercules.
- Veggie Tales: Justified In the Jonah movie, as the gospel choir is made up of a bunch of angels so they show up to tell Jonah about mercy through song.