Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Post-Oscar Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Make a Wish Foundation director Fah Lo Suee (wink wink) and I will be off to lovely Corning, New York and the palatial estate of former Congressman Eric Massa [D(?) -Embarrassing Loon]. Not really sure what the occasion is, although we've been invited to go snorkeling. I presume he has a really big indoor swimming pool.

That being the case, further posting by moi will have to be sporadic for a day or two.

In the meantime, then, here's a hopefully fun little project for us all:

Best or Worst Use of a Post-Elvis Pre-Existing Pop/Rock Record in a Film or Flick!!!

No arbitrary rules whatsoever this time out, you're welcome very much. And, yes, you can also include the record you'd love to hear used in a film or flick that in fact hasn't done duty yet.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. George Thorogood and the Destroyers -- Bad to the Bone

This song became a major annoyance within days of its first release in 1982, but by the time it showed up in the bar scene from Terminator 2 in 1991 it had long since crossed over into full blown Please Kill Me Now territory. Since then, I've lost track of how many times it's been used on the big or small screen, and to say I never want to hear it again is to severely understate my loathing of it.

6. The Beach Boys -- Don't Worry Baby

From the finale of the otherwise unmemorable Drew Barrymore romantic comedy Never Been Kissed. The song's better than the movie deserved, obviously, but I got kind of misty the first time I saw the scene anyway.

5. Mott the Hoople -- All the Way From Memphis

From Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, with Alice's bratty little kid lying between the speakers of his portable stereo blasting Mott's glam anthem. Forever fabulous, as they say.

4. Rob Laufer -- Do You Fly in Your Dreams?

This song just fricking slays me, and has since the moment I first heard it on Beatlemania alumnus Laufer's major label debut in 1996 (that's him as Paul on the left); to my ears, it's what prog-rock always should have sounded like but, alas, never did. I'm not sure what particular kind of film it would work best with, but if ever a rock record deserved the phrase "cinematic," this one is it.

3. Harry Nilsson -- Jump Into the Fire

As heard in the above scene from Goodfellas (along with "Magic Bus" and "Memo From Turner" and "Monkey Man"). Seriously, I never particularly even liked the song, but it's simply perfect here -- by the end of the sequence, you feel as jumpy as Ray Liotta's coked-out mobster.

2. Dion -- King of the New York Streets

Why this one (from Dion's amazing Dave Edmunds-produced Yo Frankie album in 1989) hasn't been used in a movie already is beyond me; frankly, I can't listen to it without visualizing a credit sequence. "People call me the Scandalizer/The world was my appetizer/I turned gangs into fertilizer/King of the New York Streets -- we walked tall..."

And the numero uno (in this case unfortunate) celluloid singalong, there's no getting around this I'm afraid, is...

1. David Bowie -- Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

David Bowie - Cat People .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine
As heard recently in a crucial scene in Inglourious Basterds. It's no secret I'm not much of a Bowie fan, and I didn't particularly like "Cat People" in the movie of the same name back in the 80s. But for me, anyway, its use in IB was incredibly jarring; Tarantino is usually really good with found music, but I think this was a serious miscalculation on his part.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Best or Worst Movie Mad Doctors!!! -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could find it in your heart to go over there and leave a comment, snarky or otherwise, it would help bolster my argument with management that I'm working pretty damn dirt cheap. Thanks!]


John Fowler said...

I'm not such a movie person, only one comes to mind:

O'Jays - "Love Train" from The Last Days of Disco. Not a great movie, but still enjoyable. (Although I found the Chloƫ Sevigny character somewhat annoying.) However, the end credit sequence where everyone =does= join in (dancing) is pretty appealing. I mean, wouldn't it be nice if we could solve the world's problems and have everyone get along, by playing a good dance tune?

cthulhu said...

It's sort of obvious, but Stealers Wheel's Stuck In The Middle With You from Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" stands out among Tarantino's oeuvre. The whole "Super Sounds of the '70s" running gag has been a source of merriment in Chez Cthulhu (aka R'lyeh) for years now.

Sal Nunziato said...

I do love the "Be My Baby" as Harvey Keitel's head hits the pillow in "Mean Streets." But recently, though not THAT recent, I thought I'd plotz when Gwyneth Paltrow put on "She Smiled Sweetly" in The Royal Tenenbaums.

hadda brooks said...

trainspotting-a perfect day- lou reed
pee wee's big adventure-tequila- the chanps
beetlejuice- banana boat song-harry belafante
midnight cowboy- everybody's talking at me- harry
doors- the end- apocalypse now

J. Loslo said...

Saw it a long time ago, but I remember thinking The Chambers Brothers "Time Has Come Today" was used very effectively in Coming Home.

David said...

Wow, a pregnant topic. Of course Scorcese is one of the true masters. "Jumping Jack Flash" playing as Johnny Boy enters the bar with Heatha Weintraub and another girl on his arm in Mean Streets has to be one of his finest moments. Two more Eno moments:
--"An Ending" -- elegiac instrumental plays as the Benecio Del Toro character sits in watching baseball at the end of Traffic
--"By this River" perfectly capturing the mood in Y Tu Mama Tambien
And one more, not from a movie but the brilliant Freaks and Geeks made wonderful use of period classics, including XTC's "No Language in Our Lungs"

David said...

PS. I just watched Inglorious Basterds last night--Netflix finally came through--and I have to agree that the Bowie song seemed a real stretch--not as egregiously jarring as the Clash and Bow Wow Wow playing in Sophia Coppolla's Marie Antoinette, but jarring.

steve simels said...

The punk and post-punk Coppola used at least seemed to me to make a coherent point. In the case of the Bowie song in Basterds, I'm not sure why Tarantino thought it made sense. Maybe he just liked the sound of the tune and thought it sounded German and decadent.

He has an odd historical perspective on pop music. He said the reason he used Dick Dale in Pulp Fiction was not because he liked or even knew about surf music -- it just sounded like spaghetti westerns.

Gummo said...

Call me a soppy softy, but the first time I saw "American Graffiti," the Beach Boys' "All Summer Long" playing over the ending brought a lump to my throat.

Blatant cheesy emotional manipulation ne plus ultra, but only because it worked so well.

David said...

Yeah, and Stealer's Wheel just sounded right for an ear-slicing scene...More often than not, he has a good touch, whether it's rational or just an instinct.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Hah, I used to sit between my speakers and listen to music like that!

Edward said...

A subject that really pisses me off. I should probably go to you movie site to rant. Most use of pop music is soooo horrible in the movies. Fortuneately, I don't see many pop films, but when I do, I manage to blot out the most pointless and gratuitous use of the music. So, going by movies instead of songs:

Scorpio Rising - Invented the use of oldies as background

American Graffitti - Commercialized the use of oldies as background

John Water's Hairspray - Great use of obscure oldies as background.

High FIdelity - Music and records as fetish objects

Everything by Wes Anderson - perfected the use of smug, I'm- cooler-than-you-are use of pretentious hippness in movies.

Best use Pre-Elvis Song used in Post Elvis Movie - Singing in the Rain- A Clockwork Orange.

end rant

Kid Charlemagne said...

Thought the use of Iggy's "Lust for Life" in the opening scene of "Trainspotting" was a cool touch.

Elizabeth C. said...

When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies
Don't you want somebody to love.

The Hamzinger said...

Ditto on the High Fidelity comment (tho' is "You're Gonna Miss Me" really a pop song?).
But for me I'd have to add The Trashmen's "Surfing Bird" in Full Metal Jacket as pretty superb placement. That song also got a great version out of Pee Wee Herman in "Back To the Beach," too.

steve simels said...

Scorpio Rising - Invented the use of oldies as background

I was going to put that in, actually, but I couldn't decide which song should get the nod.

Wendy said...

Okay, I may be a sap, but John Cale's version of "Hallelujah" in "Shrek" always gets to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to disagree with Edward (at least I believe I'm disagreeing with him) about High Fidelity. I thought the music used was nearly pitch perfect, and talk about a movie that strikes way too close to home, that would certainly be one of them for me.

A couple of my favorite movie music moments

Dwight Yoakum's A Thousand Miles From Nowhere at the end of Red Rock West - will never hear the song again without thinking of that scene.

John Rzeznik singing I'm Still Here in Treasure Planet - great song from a terribly
underrated movie

big bad wolf said...

i'm not really interested in defending wes anderson movies or movie aesthetics, but clsoing rushmore with ohh la la was brillant. i didn't much like the movie, but damn if i didn't leave the theater really happy.

ig bad wolf said...

ooh la la. of course. i wish i could learn to type

Gummo said...

Oh, and as regards "Bad to the Bone" --

1. I like the song. So sue me.

2. Easily the best use of it was the numerous times it turned up in the TV series "Married with Children," usually just before Al made a fool of himself -- again.

ms. rosa said...

Everytime I hear Derek and the Dominoes' Layla outtro I think of dead people hanging in meat lockers a la Goodfellas. Creepy!

Also, Beach Boys "Wouldn't It Be Nice" just slays you emotionally (if not check yer pulse as Steve would say) in Roger and Me.

TMink said...

Hadda beat me to every punch I had!


Noam Sane said...

I'd vote for M. Jackson's "She's Out Of My Life" as used in "Modern Romance," Albert Brooks.

He's broken up with Mary for the umpteenth time and picks an old girlfriend out of his Rolodex. Makes a date, picks her up, and as they drive off, he makes the mistake of turning on the radio.

Above song comes on, he circles the block and drops said girl off in front of her apartment - the trip lasts about 45 seconds.

Noam Sane said...

...oh yeah, I have to agree with the Basterds music cue. Did not like. Odd, when you think about all the songs that would have fit there.

How about Arthur Brown? Now THAT woulda worked.

David said...

"Fire" by Arthur Brown would have worked really well. Good call. OK, one final moment of Scorcese's genius: "Atlantis" as the soundtrack for the lethal whooping of Billy Bats in Goodfellas. Why does this hippie-dippy anthem work so well? Who knows? Scorcese just has a great ear....unlike the guy in Reservoir Dogs....

Dan said...

I tend to feel like it's cheating to use a great pre-existing song in a movie... borrowing all the history and emotional power of another work of art to buttress one's own. It works, it definitely works, as much on me as on anybody, but I mean, look what even a half-decent pop song can do for a JC Penney commercial, for chrissake!


I'm going to defend smug hip-ness, because not only do I love "Bottle Rocket," and it's use of (oh what's the name of the song by Love), I'm a fan of Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums as well -- and his use "She Smiled Sweetly" was a knockout there.

I also got a huge thrill from Dylan's "The Man in Me" over the opening of "The Big Lebowski." (I know, I know, that movie is nauseatingly over-praised and over-exposed by now, but I saw it when it came out, and had no idea it was going to be culted to death).

But here's an obscure one that has stayed in my mind: The Stairsteps' "Ooh Ooh Child" in Jonathan Kaplan's "Over the Edge," if anyone remembers that.

But I still say it's cheating.

(Oh and by the way, does anyone remember Lou Reed singing "Baby Sister" in Alan Arkush's "Get Crazy?" That's one of my favorite musical scenes in an affable but otherwise undistinguished '80s party-hardy movie. I don't know if it counts as a pre-existing song, but if it does. that one's number one on my list!)

steve simels said...

Come to think of it, Wim Wenders uses a Kinks song -- I think Waterloo Sunset -- in something good, doesn't he?

Noam Sane said...

nauseatingly over-praised and over-exposed

Wow, I was unaware that the backlash had started already! That's like, a bummer, man.

The use of the Kenny Rogers song was pretty good, eh?

And the Creedence.

Dan said...

I didn't mean to initiate a backlash! I love "Lebowski!" I don't particularly enjoy reading about the "phenomenon" in the arts section every few months though. Well that's an exaggeration, but still. Anyway, it's not the movie's fault.

David said...

It was "7 and 7 is" in Bottle Rocket, and it was brilliant! Still my favorite Wes Anderson flick.
I think it's a slippery slope to say it's cheating to use a pre-existing song and all its associations, etc., in a movie. It's all down to how you use it. Putting in "Hallelujah" to pull some emotional heartstrings is lazy at this point, but unearthing an old Kinks song that non-musos have no idea exists doesn't seem smug. What would you have him do, put in cliche, over-familiar songs? That said, there's such a thing as overkill, and many films these days seem overstuffed with songs just to keep people interested. In American Graffiti, the constant soundtrack mimicked the radio, which was in essence its own character.

Unknown said...

Over the Edge is a great movie, great soundtrack too.

I'd say: "Green Onions" in the pre-dawn drag race scene in American Graffiti; really cool.

Also Amer Graf II was pretty bad but "Pipeline" was used to great effect in the Viet Nam sequence as a helicopter approached the jungle.

Worst use of classic music in a movie: Patch Adams. Oh, it's 1967 here comes "Incense and Peppermints" etc etc

dave™© said...

No one's mentioned "The End" in "Apocalypse Now"?

A personal fave is "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" at the end of "Cooley High." I wish that soundtrack was on DVD!

dave™© said...

BTW, I MUCH prefer the "fast" version of "Putting Out Fire," as found as the flip of the "Let's Dance" single.

MBowen said...

As far as whether The Big Lebowski is "nauseatingly over-praised" or not seems to depend on one's fondness for marijuana - stoners seem to think it's a work of genius, while the less cannabis-inclined think, "OK, kind of cute".

One song cue that really grabbed me was in Boogie Nights - shit, if you're in a room with a coke-crazed madman who thinks that "Sister Christian" is profound, you're in trouble, dude...

MBowen said...

Oh, and I tried to post something at Box Office, but my virus scan/browser wouldn't let me.

Nosmo King said...

All of the song cues in "Boogie Nights" are pretty brilliant, and I heard them a million times (worked on the movie). Special props for Sister Christian, and especially for "The Sage" (Chico Hamilton) the jazz piece with cello used as morning after music.

I wanted to bring up "American Werewolf in London", for using only songs with the word "moon" in their title, and making it work. The Marcels doo-wop version of "Blue Moon" at the end is perfect.

Dan said...

Apologies for not reading carefully and duplicating Sal's earlier reference to She Smiled Sweetly in the Royal Tennenbaums.

I have a memory -- maybe faulty -- of "Wouldn't it Be Nice" in Shampoo?

And I can't believe no one has referenced the best use ever of a pre-existing pop song in a movie -- Bohemian Rhapsody in Wayne's World!

dave™© said...

"Shampoo" opened with "Wouldn't It Be Nice".

Anonymous said...

"Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worrin' Bout That Girl" from Rushmore, may be The Kinks finest moment.

And who can forget Freedy Johnston's "Bad Reputation" from Kingpin, or The Greenhorne's(with Holly Golightly) "There Is An End", from the great Broken Flowers?

Libby Spencer said...

I have a terrible memory for movies in terms of the music and the scenes and I haven't really been to the movies in ages because I haven't been close to a theater in years but reaching into the old memory bank, you'll probably think I'm a hopeless dork, but I liked the soundtracks for Natural Born Killers and The End of the World.

Have a vague recollection that Sweet Jane worked really well in NBK.

John Shipley said...

Does the Missa Luba "Sanctus" from Lindsay Anderson's "If ..." count? Not pop, really, but it really captures the anglo rift between propriety and ferocity that drives that movie (if you haven't seen it, do so!). The scene is available on youtube, BTW.

"The Royal Tennenbaums" seems to exist mostly for the great music cues, and I would include the slo-mo, Nico/Jackson Browne moment when Gwenyth gets off the bus. Special props to "Makin' Time" in "Rushmore," as well.

The song in "Bottle Rocket" is "Alone Again Or."

And I totally agree on the "Cat People" thang in "Inglorious Basterds," a movie I pretty much hated. My main beef was that the song was introduced in a movie!

David said...

Bottle Rocket featured both "Alone Again Or" and "7 and 7 is" -- I just though the use of "7 and 7 is" was more memorable. Neither one made it onto the soundtrack, along with "2000 Man"

John Shipley said...

Interesting. I have never noticed "7 and 7 Is" in "Bottle Rocket!" Now I need to go back and watch.

Here's another one: The use of the Can song in "Deep End," during the long brothel/night club scene. I forget what it's called, something that includes the word "Flow," I think. It reminds me of the way Schlesinger uses that Elephant's Memory song in "Midnight Cowboy." Another great one!

Alex said...

The Plimsouls "A Million Miles Away" from Valley Girl

John Fowler said...

I'm going to confess to having the silly moments be memorable for me - on this list, it's hadda brooks naming of "Tequila" from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure; and Dan's pointing out that "Bohemian Rhapsody" more or less made Wayne's World.

And shouldn't Wayne's World be credited (??) with vaulting that song from occasional play on AOR radio to "Stairway To Heaven"-level overplay?