Adam Ruins Everything
Jake and Amir
Ten Original Singles Way Better than the Movies they Came From
Jeff & Patrick
July 15, 2009
When good music meets good movies, it's a beautiful thing. When great music meets terrible movies, it's a hilarious thing. Here are 10 classic singles originally written for 10 not-so-classic films.
Stevie Wonder, "I Just Called to Say I Love You"
The Woman in Red
Stevie Wonder's 1984 single has become such a ubiquitous expression of everyday love, its impossible to imagine the song taking any other route than straight from Wonder's smiling head to our 10th-grade Valentine's Day mix CDs. But the uncomfortable reality is that the tune was first played as a 50-year-old Gene Wilder lusted after a 25-year-old Kelly Lebrock.
The Woman in Red
was supposed to be the
to Gene Wilder's Dudley Moore, and Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" was supposed to be the kind of lighthearted song that makes audiences forget the quarter-century age gap between their on-screen lovers.
The Beach Boys, "Kokomo"
Before Uncle Jesse helped make it famous on Full House, Kokomo was the lead single on the soundtrack to Tom Cruise's
. It had been 22 years since the Beach Boys had a #1 song and 21 years since, so when Kokomo went to #1 in the summer of 1988 it was a bit of a fluke. If you're worried about how Kokomo happened, you're clearly not in the right frame of mind to be listening. The song's surprise success led to a one-album deal for the resurgent Beach Boy. Despite featuring a collaboration with The Fat Boys, the album (depressingly titled
) failed to produce any additional hits.
Michael Jackson, "Ben" (from
In 1972 a teenage Michael Jackson performed a moving ballad about the love between a boy and his rat for the sequel to a 70's horror film about telepathic rats, and it became his first #1 single as a solo artist. It was the most normal thing he ever did.
Boys II Men, "End of the Road"
In the racially tumultuous early '90s, Boys II Men truly united America: black or white, everyone wanted to have sex with the band. From Nathan Morris's anguished tenor asking America's women how they could "love [him] and leave [him]?" to soprano Shawn's irresistible demand to remove all of their clothes, the R&B group convinced a generation of mediocre boyfriends to invest in scented candles and hanging linens. So when the band's 1992 hit single made its first appearance in the Eddie Murphy sex romp
, it only served to highlight how painfully hard the comedy tried and failed to be a suave, cinematic aphrodisiac. But with lines like, "Check it like
magazine: this is my mack daddie vibe I am giving you," it felt far closer to a cinematic asshole hitting on you at an Applebees bar.
Weezer, "Suzanne" (from
Say what you will about Kevin Smith, but he knows his audience. Without too much stereotyping let's just say Weezer and Kevin Smith fans both tend to wear glasses, so the charming b-side Susanne fit perfectly over the happy-ending epilogue of
. Like Weezer's then-unreleased second album, Mallrats was derided at the time only to slowly build a cult following over the years. The lesson here is clear make something fun that references superheroes and nerds will eventually find it.
Eric Clapton, "Tears in Heaven" (from
Tears in Heaven is an amazing song, but unfortunately it's very difficult to listen to without thinking of 1991 film
. Clapton scored almost all of Lili Fini Zanuck's tragic tale of undercover cops addicted to the very speed they are trying to clean up, and it's official soundtrack was the first appearance of the future Song of the Year.
Paul McCartney and Wings, "Live and Let Die"
Live and Let Die
James Bond struggled to stay cool as the 1970s traded in martini's and tuxedoes for long hair and a bitter distrust of all government agencies (including Her Majesty's secret service), and while
Live and Let Die
may not be the worst Bond film (see:
), its combination of ill-concieved blaxploitation themes and a handful of laughable getaways (see: jumping on alligators) put it at the lesser end of the Bond franchise. Luckily, the mid '70s also saw some the best music of the century, giving
Live and Let Die
the finest opening theme in Bond's 22-film history. Cleverly, the tune starts with Paul McCartney singing what sounds like the traditional, lazy lounge singles that opened "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds are Forever" before exploding into a terrifying mixture of rock and tribal funk that remind you who England's coolest export really is.
Starship, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"
Just how weird were the 1980s? Apparently one film about Andrew McCarthy's adventures with a lifeless body weren't enough for the time. Neither were two. So, in addition to the
Weekend at Bernie's
movies came a film in which McCarthy falls in love with an enchanted department store dummy. And just as a vapid film about magical consumerism fit the Reagan-era perfectly, Starship's techno-ballads, like "We Built this City," were a much more digestible compliment to the country's growing fascination with technology. Mannequin's producers, looking for a romantic song for McCarthy to fuck a plastic Kim Katrall to, commissioned Starship to write the movie's theme. And soon, coked-out yuppies were belting out their best Grace Slick impressions in Wall Street karaoke bars, and the single was nominated for a "Best Original Song" Oscar (shockingly, the film's only nod).
Tears for Fears, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World (extended edit)" (from
Tears for Fears' New Wave anthem reflected on some of the late 20th Century's most pressing topics: war, neoconservatism, the digital revolution.
asked questions almost as crucial: How hard can nerds party? How do you get revenge on snooty seniors? What are the applications of space lasers for pranking uptight college deans? Granted, Val Kilmer enthusiasts and cult film fanatics have in recent years embraced
as a forgotten gem of the time, but as far as we're concerned any film made in the 1980s and set in a college has no place invoking any music more highbrow than Kenny Loggins.
John Williams, "Duel of the Fates"
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
It's hard to imagine now but 10 years ago, right before the release of
The Phantom Menace
, everyone was legitimately excited about the Star Wars prequels. The hype extended beyond nerds. "Duel of the Fates," the symphonic theme of a Sith Lord, lasted 11 days on Total Request Live. Perhaps because it was used in
The Phantom Menace
's most popular scene, a 2-on-1 lightsaber battle, it has remained a favorite of Star Wars parodies and
random Internet videos
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