Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Alas, there will be no song entitled 'Quantum Of Solace' (a sampling of great terrible movie songs).

Looks like the Bond producers will be taking the easy way out. According to Variety, Jack White and Alicia Keys will be producing the theme song to Quantum Of Solace. But, alas, it will be called the much blander and easier to work with 'Another Way To Die'. Granted, it's the first duet in Bond song history, but I was genuinely hoping that some poor soul would have to make a workable tune out of 'Quantum Of Solace'.

Still, just because it isn't called Quantum Of Solace, doesn't mean we should give up that it will be terrible. How I yearn for the golden 80s, the glory days of terrible movie-based songs. In fact, there are few songs more terrible than terrible songs used in cheesy 80s and early 90s movies. Yes, when we had songs actually called 'The Living Daylights', or 'Lethal Weapon'. And, let's not forget the double-whammy of Rambo songs. Dan Hill's 'A Long Road' from First Blood or Frank Stallone's 'Peace In Our Life' from Rambo: First Blood Part II, both of these have become camp classics of overwrought lyrical emotionalism ("It's a real war... right outside your front door, I tell ya!"). In fact, Long Road has the gall to be set to Jerry Goldsmith's beautiful instrumental Rambo theme that has been used in all four movies.

Some favorites stand out -

Princes Of The Universe (from Highlander) - Flash Gordon is an epically goofy movie theme song, but at least it's tongue and cheek and it's faithful to the source. Did Queen actually read the script to Highlander before creating this hard-metal epic that slowly becomes some kind of sports rally pep tune? I'm guessing not as the song starts blabbing about romance, kings, passing the test, and people talking about them. This, for a movie about a super-secret clan of immortal Scotsman who run around beheading each other with broadswords. Most people have heard the first verse, but you really need to hear the rest.

It's A Long Road (from First Blood) - Dan Brown's obviously well-intentioned ode to the war within that Vietnam vets faced upon returning home quickly cascades into cheesy, overwrought platitudes from a guy who sounds too young to shave or drive, let alone enlist and return from war. Granted, it's a moodier and vaguely anti-war peace (and thus more faithful to the original intent of the First Blood novel and movie), but I prefer Billy Joel's 'Goodnight Saigon' thank you much.

Peace In Our Life (from Rambo: First Blood Part II) - Frank Stallone pens this allegedly touching ode to the sacrifice that vets made for their country. Alas, it's high-cheese factor and, I dunno, the fact that it's Frank Stallone, renders this about as an appropriate thank-you to the troops as Gulf War Syndrome, decrepit veterans hospitals, and Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor.

The Burning Heart (from Rocky IV) - Sorry to keep piling on Stallone, but the guy had a thing for cheese ball theme songs in the 1980s (even 1993's Demolition Man had a hard-rock theme song for the closing credits). This song by Survivor obviously tries to cash in on the popularity of Eye Of The Tiger, the unofficial theme from Rocky III. This jingoistic little ditty sells the film's apparent concept that this boxing match between Rocky and Drago is a battle for the souls of the world, the ultimate showdown between capitalism and communism. Favorite lyric - "There is so much at stake! Seems like freedom's up against the walls!"

The Glory Of Love (from The Karate Kid Part II) - Actually an entertaining, sweepingly corny love ballad. Peter Cetera tries to pull off the ultimate 'hero-complex' love song and it's oddly sincere. I suppose the reason I'm including it here is that it's one of those songs that everyone from the 1980s inexplicably knows most of the words to. It's terrible, but it's also kinda great.

The Living Daylights (from The Living Daylights) - The first Timothy Dalton Bond film may be the most realistic, intricate, and complicated of any Bond picture, but this Ah Ha theme song is utterly incomprehensible. I have, to this day, no idea what they are singing about or how it relates to our favorite 00-agent. It's catchy, but it's terrible. While Duran Duran's 'Dance Into The Fire' (from A View To A Kill) is equally terrible, it's a bit more comprehensible and it has a groovy, bad-ass dance beat that makes it a blast to listen to. The Living Daylights just stinks.

Batdance (from Batman) - I could easily include this entire album of really mediocre to terrible Prince songs (Party Man, anyone?). But this whacked out ode to uh, something related to Batman is an acid-trip mishmash of color, incomprehensibility, and attempted controversy (the random inclusion of hard profanity, a long scene in which a row of Vicki Vale's are shot dead) that has stood the test of time. But at least Burton had the good sense to use Danny Elfman's score as the driving music, with Prince only in the vague background. Originally, the studio wanted Prince to do a main theme, Michael Jackson to do a love theme, and then just have Elfman fill in the blanks. Random Oddity - When Prince is dressed up in Joker attire, his gaunt body shape and his wild poofy hair actually renders him a dead ringer for the comic book Joker, more so than anyone who's ever played him onscreen.

Original Sin (from The Shadow) - Alas, this one is unable to be embedded, and it's actually a loose remake of a 1986 tune, but Taylor Dane's theme song for the 1994 'Shadow' feature was the last grasp of hardcore movie-based cheese before the trend of a soundtrack comprised of unrelated songs 'inspired by the motion picture' settled in. Most impressive is how Dane finds a way to substitute various lyrics to incorporate the line 'Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?' into a rising rock beat. Here's the original for comparison.

Feel free to submit your favorite movie theme songs from the days of ole.

Scott Mendelson

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