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This Song Means More to the Fast & Furious Franchise Than Any Other

Star Wars, James Bond, Spider-Man — The key to almost every major franchise is its recognizable music. But for a billion-dollar franchise, the Fast & Furious seemingly doesn’t have any recognizable theme music. This isn’t to say that the franchise hasn’t tried. Composer Brian Tyler has been a consistent part of scoring the films. But instead of focusing on its score, the Fast movies have emphasized the numerous hip-hop and R&B songs featured on its soundtracks from artists such as Ludacris (who plays Tej), Tyrese (who plays Roman), and Pitbull, among many others. Because of this rotating group of artists and scattered music, some might argue that unlike Star Wars or Mission Impossible, the Fast Saga hasn’t had a proper theme. But Furious 7’s “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth has now, more than ever, presented itself as the unofficial theme song of the franchise, appearing both as a song and as part of some films’ musical scores. “See You Again” is not only a great tribute to Paul Walker but also a perfect mix of music and lyrics that ultimately capture the franchise’s theme of family.


“See You Again” Is a Swan Song for Paul Walker

Paul Walker CGI in an emotional sendoff in Furious 7
Image via Universal Pictures

When Paul Walker passed away in 2013, the cast and crew of Furious 7 took a break from shooting and then production halted, rightfully so. They not only needed the time to grieve but also they needed to make sure that Paul Walker’s last Fast and Furious film would be the best it could be. After all, it would not only be a swan song for the actor, but it would also be the final onscreen appearance of Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) right-hand man, Brian O’Conner. With the help of Walker’s brothers and digital special effects, director James Wan was able to finish the film. In addition to the production itself, part of making Furious 7 a tribute to the character and the late actor was a search for a song that would play at the end of the film and would later become the lead single from the film’s soundtrack. Enter Charlie Puth, who played a significant role in composing the music to “See You Again.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Charlie Puth explained how he and Wiz Khalifa surprisingly beat out “hundreds of submissions” for the coveted spot. Puth first co-wrote the song with DJ Frank E and he talked about their collaboration and how the song’s famous piano chords emerged: “We were just getting to know each other and he had these chords up. I was like, ‘What if we just played this on the piano?’ And they were the chords to ‘See You Again.’” Years later, those few notes on the piano still evoke the same sentimental feelings and associations with Paul Walker and the Fast franchise. Furthermore, while Puth only intended to write the song for another artist to step in to sing the chorus, he was ultimately asked to stay on through the song’s recording in addition to its writing. He told People magazine, “I [recorded the track] as a reference vocal for Sam Smith to potentially sing.” On the other hand, Sam Smith got to write and perform “Writing’s On the Wall” for Spectre that same year as the release of Furious 7.

Once Puth and Frank E’s composition was picked up for the movie, Wiz Khalifa was also asked to join the track, but it wouldn’t be his first feature on a Fast and Furious soundtrack. He also helped write and perform “We Own It (Fast & Furious)” for Fast & Furious 6. For “See You Again,” Khalifa looked to the main message and the mantra of “family” at the center of the franchise. He told MTV News, “I basically thought about what the movie stands for as far as family and the brotherhood.” Of course, Wiz Khalifa’s intention is clearly present in the song with lyrics like “How can we not talk about family when family’s all that we got?” The song is also more than just a thematic companion to the film. Khalifa wanted “See You Again” to be about grief and moving on by using “the metaphor of the last ride and the last race” in his lyrics.

Both Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s effort in putting together “See You Again” was an instant success. But more important than the number of records it broke was the song’s tribute to the late Paul Walker. “See You Again” played through the ending of Furious 7 in a montage of Walker’s multiple appearances as Brian O’Conner throughout the franchise. The ending also saw Vin Diesel’s Dominick Torreto driving one final time alongside his former enemy and now-found family and brother. “[The song] doesn’t make you feel like you’ve left a funeral,” Charlie Puth explained to EW, “It’s very uplifting and motivating. Paul’s legacy is always going to live on.” “To have the responsibility to do the Paul Walker record was really dope,” Khalifa also told MTV News.

“See You Again” Is a Theme Song for the Fast & Furious Franchise

Just as Paul Walker’s legacy will forever be associated with the song, “See You Again” will also be linked to the overall Fast & Furious franchise. In 2020 (before the pandemic and lockdowns), F9 put together a concert leading up to the release of its first trailer. Among its many musical guests was of course Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth who performed “See You Again” in front of a live audience in Miami, Florida. More clips of Paul Walker were projected onto the screen behind them while many in the audience sang along to the song — many still visibly moved by the tribute so many years after Walker’s death. With F9 marketed as part of the “Fast Saga,” the inclusion of “See You Again” in the film’s promotion demonstrates how it has transcended its debut in Furious 7. It is more than just the end credits song and tribute to Paul Walker. “See You Again” is now an anthem for the franchise.

This is even more evident in the latest entry in the franchise Fast X. Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, we catch up with Dominick Toretto and the rest of his Fast family. After having a brief moment of recollection with the now “resurrected” Han (Sung Kang), Dom looks through various photographs of his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), and of course his brother-in-law Brian, among many others. During this trip down memory lane, an instrumental snippet of “See You Again” appropriately plays — those piano notes that Charlie Puth was so excited about composing. Fast X is full of images and moments from the franchise’s past, specifically from the perspective of Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa). But Dom is also looking back at all the adventures he and his found family have gone through. Therefore, these few instrumental notes from “See You Again” also elicit nostalgia for the franchise’s history that came before. Although Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner is still very much ingrained in the song, it has also come to represent the entire Fast Saga.

Like everything else about the franchise, “See You Again” represents the theme of family and how not one person can stand on their own. This was also true for the making of the song, as Charlie Puth, DJ Frank E, and Wiz Khalifa pulled off a truly sentimental and satisfying swan song for Paul Walker. But they might have also unintentionally written the Fast & Furious theme song. Though the franchise isn’t necessarily known for its cohesive storytelling, “See You Again” ultimately helps bring the franchise together through music.

Fast X is now playing in theaters.

Read More About ‘Fast X’



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