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Movie Music

April 26, 2008

A couple of my recent posts got me thinking about the songs from the movies I really like. I know we all have our movie playlists, and even the American Film Institute has a list of what they consider to be the 100 greatest songs in movie history. For my list, I decided to exclude the Disney catalog, because my list would be too long. I also wanted to focus on the movies of my preteenage years through now. So, without further delay, here are my favorite movie songs:

“Happiness Hotel” (THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER). If you read my last post, you know how much I admire Joe Raposo. Joe wrote many great songs for this film, but this one is an absolute must-hear. “Happiness Hotel” mixes bluegrass, dixieland jazz, and rock to spin the tale of the worst hotel in London. It’s also the only hotel that Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo can afford. I laugh every time the third verse comes in. See if this lyric doesn’t make you smile:

OK the lobby’s lookin’ shabby/And it’s got the wrong address/And the whole dang thing has been condemned by American Express/But the management is cheerful though the whole joint’s gone to (expletive deleted, but it rhymes with the next line)/Welcome home to the Happiness Hotel!

That has got to be Joe Raposo’s funniest lyric ever.

“Together in Electric Dreams (Philip Oakly)”/”Video” (Jeff Lynne). If you want to know the truth, I think the entire soundtrack to ELECTRIC DREAMS is worth listening to, but these songs really shine. Oakley, I think has done the impossible: he’s married some very sad lyrics to a wonderfully catchy song with the help of Giorgio Moroder. It’s the first song I heard from the soundtrack, and I flipped over it. “Video”, by contrast is a pounding fast-paced song that gets my foot tapping. I just love the nod to Spike Jones during the instrumental portion of the song, and the music video for this song matches the frantic pacing perfectly.
“Weird Science” (Oingo Boingo). I bet you were wondering when I would get to a John Hughes movie. Well, the wait is over. Before Danny Elfman hit it big working with Tim Burton, he was the front man for the group Oingo Boingo. What I love about this song is the brass section. I can only describe the sound as pure fun. And whle I’m on the subject of John Hughes:

“If You Leave” (O.M.D.). This was the big hit from Hughes’ PRETTY IN PINK. To this day, I can’t listen to this song without sensing the same pain that the lead singer expresses, as he sings about the end of the relationship he describes. That is one of the great things a good movie song can do.

“The Closing of the Year” (Wendy and Lisa, with Seal). TOYS was another movie with a soundtrack that blew me away, thanks to Hans Zimmer’s (THE LION KING) musical direction. This song frames the movie’s opening and closing scenes. I had never heard such a Christmas song before. Yes, this IS a Christmas song, and one that deserves radio airtime, as it expresses the hope that comes with the holiday season.

“That Thing You Do” (The Wonders). Admit it. If you know and love this movie like I do, you always pay extra close attention when The Wonders play their signature tune. I’m not downplaying the other songs featured in the movie by any stretch. They’re all great tributes to the variety of sounds that came out of the 1960’s, but this one really sells the movie.

“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (Aerosmith). Aerosmith surprised a lot of people with the power ballad-to-end-all powwer ballads. I’ll admit that I was never Aeromith’s biggest fan, but when ARMAGEDDON came out, and this song hit the airwaves, I was amazed at the beauty of the lyrics and the power behind the song.

“Rat Race” (Baha Men). RAT RACE gave me a laugh at a time in my life when I needed it the most. The Baha Men’s title song, with it’s brass and percussive sound, just make me feel like dancing.

Well, that’s MY short list. You’ll notice that many of the songs listed didn’t or do not get a lot of air time on the radio. That was deliberate, because I wanted to challenge myself to be as original as possible. Anyone can mention the soundtrack to GREASE or “My Heart Will Go On”, but that would have been too easy. So, what are some of YOUR favorite movie songs that should or should have gotten airtime on your favorite station?

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