10 Songs and Movies That Go Together Like Taters and Gravy
Some things are made for each other: peas and carrots, chips and dip, Snooki and alcohol classes... You get the idea. In the spirit of things that are splendidly synergistic, I decided to make a list (in no particular order) of ten movies and songs that are linked together as strongly as Mel Gibson and profound mental illness. In short, my list is about songs that immediately conjure up movie scenes in our minds the minute the music starts. It’s not exactly all-encompassing, and I’m certain there are hundreds more inseparable songs and flicks, so feel free to list some of yours in the comments below. This is just my list, after all.
Oh, I almost forgot. Before we get started, I want to lay out some of my criteria for the songs on this list. First of all, if the song was written with a movie in mind and specifically mentions that movie’s title in the lyrics, I threw it out. This eliminates a few songs such as the Ghostbusters theme and (sadly) Goonies R Good Enough. Also, if the song and the movie had the same title, it was not included. This explains the lack of Pretty Woman, Footloose and songs of that ilk. Lastly, I left off a couple no-brainers like Old Time Rock ‘n Roll from Risky Business. Thought that might be a little too cliché.
Anyway, on with the list!
The Power of Love and Back to the Future (1985)
Huey Lewis and the News wrote and performed The Power of Love specifically for Robert Zemeckis’ seminal sci-fi/comedy flick, Back to the Future. That’s likely the biggest reason it’s virtually impossible to hear this song and not picture Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) skateboarding around Hill Valley, trying to get to school on time, thereby avoiding yet another detention from Principal Strickland. In retrospect, the song really doesn’t have too awfully much to do with the movie’s central theme: meeting your parents as teenagers and trying to avoid your own mother’s amorous advances.
Then again, no one should ever write a song about something like that anyway, so it looks like you’re off the hook, Huey.
Eye of the Tiger and Rocky III (1982)
Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, written for Stallone’s third Rocky film, has become, in subsequent years, perhaps the sports anthem. It can be heard at sporting events the world over, urging the throngs of cheering fans to help their teams to victory. That’s all well and good, but I defy anyone to come across this song on his or her radio and not picture the fateful showdown between Stallone’s Rocky Balboa and Mr. T’s villainous Clubber Lang. The movie opens with this pounding slice of early ‘80s arena rock and sets the stage for what follows.
Rocky has become complacent as the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, and perhaps has lost a little of the desire and will to win that got him to the top of the mountain in the first place. After the death of Mickey, Rocky’s trainer and father figure, as well as the loss of his title, Rocky has to unleash his own “eye of the tiger,” find the desire to fight again, get his championship back, and prove something to the deceased Mick AND himself. The rest of us just like to sing it in the car.
Bohemian Rhapsody and Wayne's World (1992)
Mike Myers’ comic masterpiece, Wayne’s World, was responsible for re-popularizing several ‘70s and ‘80s songs that, by 1992, had been largely forgotten. Dream Weaver by Gary Wright was used when Wayne (Myers) sees Cassandra for the first time, and at the end of the movie, Tia Carrere belted out a cover of The Sweet’s The Ballroom Blitz to a good deal of critical acclaim. But if you ask a fan to name one scene from this comedy classic, odds are good he or she will bring up the Bohemian Rhapsody sing-along in Garth’s (Dana Carvey) “Mirthmobile.”
Released only a few months after the untimely death of Freddie Mercury, Wayne’s World’s popularity actually brought Queen’s operatic tale of young lives lost to violent crime back into the Top 40, over a decade and a half after it’s original release. Zombie rock tunes… Excellent!
Stuck in the Middle and Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Who knew that K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the ‘70s would make for some pleasantly perfect murder music? Well, it’s just the ticket if you ask Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Quentin Tarantino’s sadistic bank robber from Reservoir Dogs. Blonde tunes into this 1972 Stealer's Wheel classic, then proceeds to torture and taunt his tied-up police officer, finally slicing off the cop’s ear and dousing him in gasoline.
As bad luck would have it, Blonde is killed before he can finish the job (or his menacing but somehow still funny) dance routine. It’s Tarantino at his bloody best with a little bouncy classic rock interjected. Can’t go wrong with that. It’s also pretty much impossible to separate the song and this movie scene from your memory after seeing it.
Oh Yeah and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Playing over the final scene and the majority of the end credits, Yello's Oh Yeah, will be forever linked to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Distraught and defeated in his latest attempt to catch chronic truant Ferris Bueller, Principal Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), boards a school bus and slowly makes his way to his seat, amongst a student body that isn't eager to share a spot with him.
Somehow, this song is just perfect for one of the most memorable moments of this unforgettable ‘80s classic. One would think that European techno wouldn’t be the best fit for a cinematic villain getting his (mostly undeserved) comeuppance, but anyone of that mindset would be wrong.
Fellow ‘80s kids may also remember this song being used in a Twix commercial or two. This is making me feel old (and a little hungry), so let’s move on.
Goodbye Horse and The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Some movies have a way of making certain songs creepy, just out of context. Chief among these is Q. Lazzarus' Goodbye Horses in The Silence of the Lambs. The song and accompanying transsexual dance number only occupy a few minutes of screen time, but that’s certainly long enough to make most viewers go “ewwww.”
Hearing this song immediately brings to mind the horrifying image of serial killer Jame Gumb (Ted Levine) applying lipstick, covering himself in dead lady skin, tucking the ol’ sausage, and finally admiring his newfound womanly accoutrements in the mirror. It’s wrong on many levels, grotesque and quite disturbing.
It’s also what I do every Saturday night by myself.
(I've Had) The Time of My Life and Dirty Dancing (1987)
I’m in the minority when I say this, but I absolutely can’t stand Dirty Dancing. This is exceedingly difficult to admit since I’m a huge Patrick Swayze fan. Oh well. They can’t all be Road House.
At any rate, good luck trying not to picture Swayze in a black leotard, dancing with Jennifer Grey every single time this sickeningly schmaltzy dance ditty graces your Ipod. And go ahead and fess up right now: It IS on your Ipod.
This song may also be the greatest karaoke track of all time. Down a few beers, request this number and belt out both the male and female parts like you just don’t care. Everyone in the vicinity will forget this was ever related to a Swayze flick. They’ll also pretend they’ve never met you.
Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) and Beetlejuice (1988)
Harry Belafonte music and a comedic ghost story may seem like an odd pairing, but ask anyone who’s seen Tim Burton’s amazing Beetlejuice and they’ll tell you it works nonetheless. The movie actually features three or four Belafonte songs, though the one most folks will remember is Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).
“Newlydeads” Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) try over and over to rid their home of the tasteless yuppies who’ve moved in. They think they’ve hit their ghostly coup de grace by momentarily possessing a dinner party and sending all members into a Day-O dance. While the endeavor doesn’t bring the results the Maitlands were hoping for, audiences were treated to a lasting movie musical moment. And cool lyrics like these:
A beautiful bunch o’ ripe banana
(Daylight come and me wan’ go home)
Hide the deadly black tarantula
(Daylight come and me wan’ go home)
I want this to be the soundtrack to my afterlife, but I’ll probably end up with Barry Manilow.
New Age Girl and Dumb & Dumber (1994)
The soundtrack to Dumb and Dumber features Butthole Surfers, Crash Test Dummies, and several other early ‘90s alternative rock groups…that no one really cares to remember. The soundtrack is packed with so many one-hit-wonders and whatever-happened-to’s that it’s practically a milk carton of missing musicians of the era. The leader of this lost pack is, most assuredly, Deadeye Dick with their hit single New Age Girl.
This song is featured prominently in a montage near the end of the movie, when Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Mary (Lauren Holly) are frolicking on the Aspen ski slopes. If memory serves, it was also used in some trailers for the movie as well. Since this flick is about two morons, it doesn't take a genius to see that the song goes well with the movie, even if there's only a little thematic thread between the two. Dumb and Dumber is an absolute comedy classic, forever preserved with it's veritable time capsule of a soundtrack.
Danger Zone and Top Gun (1986)
The extreme Reagan-era patriotism of the ‘80s reached it’s cinematic apex with 1986’s Top Gun. A fittingly jingoistic jingle for that era and this movie would be difficult to come by, but luckily, we had Kenny Loggins to save the day. If hearing Loggins’ Danger Zone blaring through your speakers doesn’t fill your head with Tomcats and Tom Cruise, you probably ain’t American. Or maybe you just weren’t around for the ‘80s. In either case, we pity those fools as this song and movie are closer than “the Corey’s,” circa 1985.
Prior to this, Kenny Loggins was mostly known for ballads and slower stuff. Danger Zone proved that the Jesus look-alike was indeed a rock god.
This almost makes up for Footloose. Almost.
Well, there you have it, friends and readers. What songs and movies are joined at the hip in your minds? Let me know via the conveniently placed comment box below. Thanks for reading!
Posted September 1, 2010