Friday, July 23, 2004

20 Over-Used Pop Songs In Modern Movies


Film Babble Blog is back! Not to piss on AFI'S 100 YEARS...100 SONGS - I mean they have a fine list of songs that enhanced many a classic film - but I wanted to draw attention to the tunes that have cheapened many movies. 

Not to say these are all bad songs, no, many are classics, it's just how they've been used over and over to manipulate the viewer to a certain mood. As you look it over I think you'll recall not just the movie or song you'll also recall the emotion, era, or spirit they're trying to evoke. So here's:

20 Over-Used Pop Song In Modern Movies

“I Got You” - James Brown: It seems to have started with its use in Barry Levinson's Robin Williams vehicle GOOD MORNING VIETNAM. Since then, the JB standard has popped up in such films as WHO'S HARRY CRUMB, WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, DOCTOR DOOLITTLE, MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, JULIEN DONKEY BOY, RIDING IN THE CAR WITH BOYS, DODGEBALL, and GARFIELD. Also dozens of TV shows.

2.“Walking On Sunshine” - Katrina & The Waves: I won't list all the times this been to go-to for feel good movie magic, but I'll just say that I can't hear it without thinking of Michael J. Fox maneuvering through a primo '80s montage in SECRET OF MY SUCCESS.

3.“Bad To The Bone”
George Thorogood: Most folks think it was TERMINATOR 2 in 1991, but this song made its film debut in Oliver Stone's TALK RADIO (1988). Since TERMINATOR 2 it's mainly been used ironically (See: PROBLEM CHILD 2, THE PARENT TRAP, 3000 MILES TO GRACELANED, or, rather, don't see them).

4. “Born To Be Wild” - Steppenwolf: Way too many to list, but many of the movies obviously pick the track to recall its first and best use in Dennis Hopper's 1969 counter culture classic EASY RIDER. My favorite is when Albert Brooks blares it when driving his RV out of Los Angeles in his hilarious 1985 comedy LOST IN AMERICA. Brooks gives a biker a "thumbs up" and gets flipped the bird in response. Gets a laugh out of me every time.

5. “Over the Rainbow”/”What a Wonderful World” – Various versions of both of these songs have been in countless movies, but the extreme overuse of Israel Kamakawiwo`ole’s medley of them together is getting unbearable. I wish that its last use, in the lame Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore rom com 50 FIRST DATES, was its last use, but I have a feeling it’ll be around for a long time.

6. “Oh, Yeah” - Yello

7. “Let My Love Open The Door” - Pete Townshend

8. “Suspicious Minds” - Elvis Presley

9. “Melt With You” - Modern English

10. “Let's Get It On” - Marvin Gaye

11. “Time Of The Season” - The Zombies: This is one of many songs on this list that film-makers use to immediately evoke the ‘60's. Notable uses: AWAKENINGS, 1969, AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME, SHANGHAI NIGHTS, and too many more to mention.

12. “All Star” - Smash Mouth: MYSTERY MEN, SHREK, INPECTOR GADGET, CONTACT, and a bunch of other movies utilized this piece of pop culture plastic. Shame really.

13. “Dream Weaver” - Gary Wright: Two of the titles that used or mis-used this tune were DADDY DAY CARE and WAYNE'S WORLD. 'Nuff said. 

“Staying Alive” - The Bee Gees: Of course, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and its sequel (of course called STAYING ALIVE) but also AIRPLANE!, and many other disco-era sequences that came about in the ‘70s resurgence of popularity of the dance music genre in the ‘90s. 

15. “Tracks Of My Tears” - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: PLATOON and THE BIG CHILL are the most notable films but the song also appears on the soundtracks for the TV shows The Wonder Years and ER.

16. “Surrender” - Cheap Trick: Matt Dillon's first film OVER THE EDGE used Cheap Trick, the Cars, and even Little Feat to make it's track housing teen rebellion point. It's use in DETROIT CITY ROCKS and FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH hammers home that same point but its appearance in SMALL SOLDIERS AND DADDY DAY CARE does not.

17. “White Rabbit” - Jefferson Airplane


19. Spirit in the Sky- Norman Greenbaum

20. Sweet Home Alabama” - Lynyrd Skynyrd: When the song title becomes a movie title, like it did two years back for a Resse Witherspoon rom com, it really should be retired. Yep, again I dream.

More later...

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