Music has played a huge part in the advertisement of a film. If a song on the films soundtracks is a major hit, chances are many filmgoers will go to see the film purely on the strength of that song alone – if anything just to hear it played. But sometimes the song can surpass the movie it’s trying to promote and become a major hit in its own right, even if the movie is a box office bomb. And today I’m looking at my top five favourites!
These are five songs that are mostly associated with “bad” movies, but on their own are actually decent songs. Many of these weren’t necessarily written especially for the films – but they were attached to a certain film. As always, this is just my own personal choice and they are listed in no particular order. Also, I’m limiting this list to films I’ve actually seen – so no Top Gun songs here I’m afraid. Enjoy!
Chage and Aska: Something There – Street Fighter
The soundtrack is pretty good too. It mostly consists of rap artists like Ice Cube, Nas and MC Hammer of all people. But the standout track on the soundtrack is Something There by Japanese duo Chage and Aska – who I have to admit I know very little about, but from what I can gather they have been going on since the seventies and have a strong following in Japan.
This was actually one of my favourite songs in the 90s and the song I mostly played from this soundtrack. It has a really cool 80’s rock vibe and the intro has an epic Asian martial arts feel to it. But the chorus is where the song really kicks in. The vocals sound a little cheesy, but the instrumentation is pretty powerful – to tell the truth it sounds more at home as an outro to an early anime series.
I’m not really sure if this is supposed to be a love song or not as I never really understood the lyrics – I just thought the tune was fantastic. It’s the perfect song to play over the end credits of Street Fighter. And they do – but not the whole way through, which I thought was disappointing. If you like your soft rock with a J-Pop feel (and who doesn’t?) then this song is worth checking out. It’s definitely the best song on the movies soundtrack.
Everything I Do: Bryan Adams – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Now I’m probably one of the few that actually think Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a decent film – and that’s saying something considering Kevin Costner is one of my most hated actors. But like Street Fighter, the film needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Plus Alan Rickman as the Sherriff of Nottingham was just perfect!
Anyway – onto the song. Everything I Do is pretty much your standard love rock song, with Bryan Adams basically declaring his undying love for someone and saying that everything he does will be for them. It fits in with the themes in Robin Hood. Because that film is pretty much a romance movie as much as it is a revenge movie.
The instrumentation is some of the most recognisable in music history. The minute you hear the opening piano riff you go “Ah yeah!” The way the instruments are used isn’t overly complicated, but the pianos, drums, bass and guitar all layer each other to create a soft and emotional sound to compliment the somewhat cheesy lyrics. And the guitar solo is just beautiful – whilst I do like the balls out solos in rock music, sometimes it’s nice to have a chilled out solo that you can rock to slowly. All this adds together to create a soothing love song that makes you smile from beginning to end. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what a love song should do?
Yes it may be somewhat of a clichéd song these days – but considering it spent weeks at number one in the UK alone, has been covered numerous times and even been used at a song at weddings, that shows that Everything I Do still holds a place in people’s hearts. It’s a song that will be long remembered, even if the film it helped promote won’t be.
The End Is The Beginning Is The End: Smashing Pumpkins – Batman And Robin
Smashing Pumpkins rarely do a bad song in my opinion and this is no exception. With its creepy early horror movie style keyboard intro mixing into a barrage of buzzing guitars and driving drums, all complimented by Billy Corgan’s elaborate lyrics – it’s a dark song that delves into the mentality of Batman. Even the video showed the band playing inside the head of Batman, representing his mindset. It’s a pretty good gothic rock tune and gives an apocalyptic feel to it.
Only problem is that this song is completely inappropriate for a film like Batman and Robin- which is anything BUT dark! This song would have fitted more with the Tim Burton Batman films – or maybe even the Christian Bale films. I actually consider it one of Smashing Pumpkins more underrated songs as it has some really interesting guitar work. And it won a Grammy – but aside from its mention in Batman and Robin it never really took off that much.
Recently though, the song had a bit of a resurgence as a remix of it was used in the Watchman trailers. In fact this song has probably more in common with Watchman than it does with Batman and Robin, due to its “end of the world” themes. But aside from being performed a few times through tours, it’s mostly forgotten about now.
Just goes to show that even the most hateful of films can have at least one thing you can like. All in all, this is a solid rock song that has a great groove to it. One worth checking out.
Iris: Goo Goo Dolls: City of Angels
Thankfully the same cannot be said for the song Iris – which is a masterpiece of modern rock. Much like the film it was written for, Iris is a love song – but unlike Everything I Do, it doesn’t come across as cheesy or tacky. Quite the opposite. The lyrics revolve about a love that is so strong that the singer refuses to leave. Mixing it with a guitar that has a unique tuning to give it a mandolin type effect and an orchestra that gradually rises in volume, almost representing the singers frustration – before gradually dying down to a quite little moment to end it. It’s a song that takes your emotions on a roller coaster and, unless your hard-hearted, you may just feel a little teary eyed by the end.
Goo Goo Dolls may be considered “one hit wonders” by some – but if Iris was my only hit I’d be happy with that. It’s a song that has a ton of emotion to it and they clearly put a lot of attention in the writing and recording of it. It has spanned numerous genres ranging from rock and pop – creating a song that any lover of music can enjoy. Also, I’ve noticed a lot of people use this song as a dedication to a lost loved one – and I’ve lost count of how many people I speak to saying this is their favourite song.
Another fact that I think is good is that this is one of the few songs on my list in which the lyrical content actually matches the tone of the film. All the lyrics pretty much sum up City of Angels plot in a way better than even the film does.
Beautifully written, emotional and one that captured the hearts of many music lovers, Iris will be a staple of music that will be remembered for many years to come.
Coolio: Gangsta’s Paradise – Dangerous Minds
Gangsta’s Paradise shot Coolio to stardom and made him a household name for most of the nineties. The song details his life as a young hood growing up on the street. But whereas a lot of rap songs tend to try and glamorise the “gangsta” lifestyle, this song gives a bleaker and grittier look at what it’s like, told from the point of view of one who has come to regret the choices he has made. Coolio goes on to explain how he fights against death and hard times every day – having now become desolate and hopeless living with nothing but the fear of violence, greed and death. This mixed in with the religious undertones, haunting choir and dark beat (sampled from the Stevie Wonder song Pastime Paradise) makes this tune a cautionary tale about those wishing to pursue a gangsta lifestyle.
I mentioned earlier that this is arguably the greatest rap song of all time – and I don’t say that lightly. I remember when this song first came out it was played on all the major music channels and on the radio. In fact you could probably count on one hand the days it WASN’T played during the nineties. It spent several weeks at number one and remained in the chart for long after it was knocked off. It was probably the equivalent of the song Happy by Pharrell Williams in terms of popularity.
Fun trivia fact was that this was the first rap song I learned to sing word for word. And I still remember the lyrics! In fact, every time I hear it I still can’t help singing along to the words!
Sadly, despite having one of the best selling songs of all time, Coolio has somewhat disappeared into obscurity – having retired from the music world and gone into acting. In fact, one of the last things I saw him in was the show Static Shock, where he played a wannabe rapper that used his powers to get into the music world – oh the irony!
In all seriousness, Gangsta’s Paradise is a fantastic rap song and one that takes a darker look at the world behind the gangsta lifestyle. He wasn’t the first to do that, but his style was something that later rappers would pick up on and go into a darker side of hip hop. It’s dark, but has a groove and the lyrics do at least have substance to them – which is more than can be said about anything Kayne West released!
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.