Saturday, September 17, 2011

Top Ten Movie Songs...

By now, my dear readers, you should all know that I am a unabashed movie lover. However, Loving movies isn't just about collecting a bunch of DVDs and stacking them in a bookshelf or collecting digital copies on an external hard drive. It's about appreciating all aspects of movies: direction, cinematography, acting, writing, and music. Yes, even music. No matter how powerfully written a scene is, adding the right music adds an infinitely greater power to the scene, be it comic or tragic, intense or lighthearted. And music has been an aspect of movies that I have not given props to in this blog. Well that ends right now.

I've compiled my top ten movie songs as an ode to the depth music adds to movies. Now, as always, there are ground rules. The song has to be an actual SONG, meaning having lyrics as well as music. (Musical scores will be in a future post, I promise.) And the song has to be indelibly, inextricably linked to the film. Just because it's a hit song and it was in a movie doesn't make it a real movie song. Ready? Here we go:

10 - From Electric Dreams(1986), Culture Club's "Love Is Love"
We start the list with a little known 80s movie about Miles and his new computer that on one fateful night comes alive thanks to a fortuitous spill of liquid into the machine. One of the best scenes is when the man tries to teach the computer the meaning of love so it can write a love song. The first version was... well horrendous would be too kind a word. After a bit more coaching from Miles, it "composes" the second version of the song to show what it has learned.

The real beauty of this scene is the simplicity of the cinematography. Lyrics on the computer screen and shots of the girl who is the object of both Miles and his computer's love. It enhances the music perfectly. Incidentally, this is the ONLY Culture Club song that I actually LIKE.

09 - From Mortal Kombat(1995), The Immortal's "Techno-Syndrome"
Yes, I know that this song was written specifically for the movie, but very few movie theme songs truly capture the spirit of the movie. I know this movie is horrible, and the fight choreography was even worse. But you have to admit, hearing that battle cry, "MORTAL KOMBAT!!!" just gets your blood pumping and ready for a fight!

For this song, I didn't include a clip from the movie, but this video does capture the spirit of the song even if the end credits kind of ruins the effect.

08 - From Weird Science (1985), Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science"
And we're back in the 80s with a John Hughes movie about 2 teen boys who manage to achieve the Holy Grail of nerddom by creating a real live girl with their computer. Yet, even though they created her, they still can't control her.

It's amazing that the same man who wrote the music for Beetlejuice and the 1989 Batman came up with such a light, pop song that could still touch upon so many of the themes of the film. And thank God too, the movie would not have been the same without it.

07 - From Eddie & The Cruisers 2(1989) - John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band's "Garden of Eden"
This movie was about a man struggling to suppress the music living inside him. Despite the world's loving his previous work.

This particular song is emblematic of the main themes of the movie. A song that sticks doesn't have to have a lot of flash, it only needs to speak to something deep inside you. Even with a simple topic like the struggles of a man trying to get a girl's attentions (and showing a young punk who thinks he's a musician what a REAL artist can do), you can write something that will stay with your audience forever.

06 - From Joe Vs. The Volcano(1990) - Eric Bourdon's "16 Tons"
Joe Vs. The Volcano is a low key movie with high powered actors that just needed the work. It tells the incredible story of Joe, a normal guy working a dead job and happens to him when he's diagnosed with a fatal disease called a "Brain Cloud".

Now this song wasn't written for the movie, just redone. This rock version while upping the power of the original song, also adds to the dank, soul-killing atmosphere that Joe finds himself in at the beginning of the movie and the strength of will it takes to survive in that environment and maybe, just maybe getting OUT of that world.

05 - From Risky Business(1983), Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock 'N' Roll"
Do I really need to introduce this? Really?

This scene is over 25 years old, and yet as soon as that song starts playing the first image that comes to mind is Tom Cruise sliding down the hall and dancing around rejoicing that his parents are gone.

04 - From Say Anything...(1989), Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes"
To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Watch this movie and you will know Lloyd Dobler. This movie has so many awesome lines and great moments. This film pretty much sealed my appreciation of John Cusack's talent.

But who can forget that iconic moment with Cusack holding up the boombox as the couple's song plays trying to get his ex to talk to him again? Talk about a moment of movie magic! I was kind of hoping to find a video of the full song with that scene in it, but I had to settle for the music video.

03 - From Highlander(1986), Queen's "Who Want's To Live Forever?"
A movie of immortals roaming the world, in a contant struggle against each other to win the prize of being the last and only immortal left in the world. In the end, there can be only one!

While I have my personal favorite songs from the movie, this particular song speaks to the core themes of the film. How love can make you feel alive & help you pass the endless years of an immortal life. But when you have to watch your loved ones grow old and die, why would you want to live forever? Listening to this song can still bring tears to my eyes.

02 - From Almost Famous(2000), Elton John's "Tiny Dancer"
Almost Famous, the story of a young man chronicling his time with an up & coming band during the early 70s. It's a wonderfully touching coming of age story.

There are times when you're with a group of people that everyone seems to suddenly hit the same vibe. In fact, the movie is mostly about people trying to catch and keep that vibe going forever. This moment in the film captures it perfectly.

01 - From Legend(1985) (U.S. Version), Tangerine Dream's "Loved By The Sun
This is Ridley Scott's simple fairy tale. A story of innocence and love and how easily those can be corrupted. It was also my introduction to Tom Cruise. Looking at the movie 26 years later, I can see all the inherent flaws in the story as well as the production. (Honestly, I would LOVE to see Ridley do a remake of this one. Yet, I still find the movie utterly captivating. It will never lose it's hold on me.

Due to studio interference, Ridley Scott's original vision was never fully seen in the US until very recently. The biggest and most pervasive change was the removal of Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack for what the studio thought would be a more effective pop soundtrack. I have since seen the original version and the studio made a grevious error with that change... except for this song. It's the one thing from the US version of the movie that I would keep. It captures everything the movie portrays: the simplicity of legendary stories, the majesty of nature, the beauty of love, the allure of innocence and the corosive effect of hatred. The video I selected for this is the best version I could find that represents the true power of this song for me.

And there you have it folks. My top ten movie songs. What are YOUR favorite movie music songs?

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