Tag Archives: Iconic

Musical Memory for 11/14 – 11/20

In other reviews and editorials, I think I have made it pretty clear about how important I feel music is to a movie.  There are some directors that even agree with me, going so far as to treat the soundtrack as another character to be woven into the story.  Today’s memory has to do with one such director: Quentin Tarantino.

Just the mention of his name evokes strong reactions regarding his movies.  When being interviewed after the release of Pulp Fiction, he talked about how he wanted a certain sound to go with what was on-screen.  He had done this previously with Resevoir Dogs, the subject of this memory.  In the movie regarding a heist gone sour, Tarantino used 70s music to create links to movies like Dog Day Afternoon.  In arguably the most famous scene of Resevoir Dogs, Michael Madsen is in the process of torturing a cop.  Steven Wright, our “radio” narrator, introduces another classic from the 70s, “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheels.   As the song plays, Madsen starts dancing around and ends up chopping off the ear of the cop.

Just to give you an idea of how powerul this imagery is, I was watching Morning Glory the other day and heard Michael Buble’s version.  As soon as it started playing, I flashed for a second on Resevoir Dogs before returning focus to the movie.

So, whenever I hear “Stuck In The Middle With You,” I think of Resevoir Dogs…

Musical Memory for 9/12 – 9/18

This week’s musical memory takes us into the realm of disco and sci-fi….

Whenever you go to certain events, those tasked with “keeping the party going” know that there are a handful of songs that get people up and full of energy.  To most people’s embarrassment, that includes a number of songs from the age of Disco.

“Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry has been used a number of times on TV and in movies to underscore parties and other events.  My first memory of the song was actually hearing it on the radio as I was doing small chores growing up.  But any memories I may have had of hearing the song were wiped away by the one made watching Evolution.  For those not wanting to click the link to read my review, Evolution was a sci-fi comedy about Earth being overrun by a rapidly developing alien race.  In one part of the movie, David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, and Sean William Scott have just brought down an alien creature in a shopping mall.  As the scene switches to a desert highway, the familiar opening guitar riffs of “Play That Funky Music” blast the audience as we see the Jeep with our heroes and their dead trophy head towards the army base.  Everyone is happy and celebrating.  Nice scene with a great choice of music to keep the energy up.

So, whenever I hear “Play That Funky Music,” I think of Evolution…

Musical Memory for 9/5 – 9/11

Over the years, I have made mention of how important I feel music is to movies.  Play the wrong song at the wrong time and you could end up with some of cinema’s greatest scenes never existing.  Since I have tied those together so much, I find myself flashing instantly on certain scenes from movies whenever I hear certain songs.

As a new feature, I will periodically post a new entry in this category.  Now, I am ruling out traditional musicals, such as Chicago, Grease, and The Sound of Music; non-traditional musicals, such as Footloose and Empire Records, are allowed.  Take a look at my entry and feel free to share yours….

My first selection comes from Grosse Pointe Blank.  For those that have not seen the movie, it involves a hitman going to his 10-year high school reunion.  At one point during the reunion, John Cusack is holding a baby and Queen’s “Under Pressure” begins playing.  At the height of the song, Cusack comes to terms with certain things.  Great moment visually.

So, whenever I hear “Under Pressure,” I think of Grosse Pointe Blank….

Shhhh! The Audience is Listening…

Gotta love slogans that become part of American culture. Who knew that this simple line would mean so much?

In other posts, I promised that I would look at doing some editorials. My original idea of the site was to simply offer reviews, but in my reviews I editorialize. Then the writers’ strike happened, forcing me to think about my opinions on movies and TV.

So what has sparked me to write now?

CNN.com ran an article on Tuesday, November 13, bemoaning the death of the movie theme song . The author of the article presented the idea that, with rare exception, there had been no readily identifiable movie theme songs over the past 5-7 years. In fact, the only two offerings that the writer presents are Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow”; but even then, the writer complains about the lack of radio-friendliness each song had.

What is interesting are the songs that the writer uses to contrast the decades of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The ones mentioned are:

  • “My Heart Will Go On”
  • “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”
  • “Evergreen”
  • “Arthur’s Theme”
  • “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”

All of these are definietly recognizable theme songs (except for maybe “Evergreen”). However, that does not mean that we have been missing original theme songs from movies, particularly on the radio. Think back to a year ago — every time you turned on a Top 40 station, you could not escape the voice of Jennifer Hudson singing “No No No!” from the movie “Dreamgirls”. A quick review of the list of Oscar nominations from last year showed 3 songs from that movie nominated. A couple of years before that, you had The Counting Crows get nominated for “Accidentally In Love” from the movie “Shrek 2″.

Then the article gets confusing — it jumps from lamenting the lack of songs to talking about what it takes to create that iconic song, using “Say Anything…” as the movie example. After time with that, the article then makes remarks about how someone like Burt Bacharach would not be famous if he had started today.

Overall, the article has that high-school journalism feel mixed with a certain bias from the writer.

The general public would have been better served had the writer focused on how music in the movies has evolved. As in sports, you can not compare theme songs from yesteryear to present-day. Each song must stand the test of time based on its peers. Just because a song is not an Oscar-winner/nominee does not mean it can not evoke thoughts of the movie it is from.

So what was the article writer trying to prove?

Radio play does not make a hit out of a movie theme song. If that were the only criteria, then explain how John Williams being able to find work, Disney being able to churn out hit musical after hit musical, and even creators like Matt Stone and Trey Parker being able to have recognition for songs from South Park and Team America:World Police. What is really interesting is that radio is being used as the judge, when digitally stored music counts for as many, if not more, listens to a song…

As long as we have movies, there will always be ones with those “iconic” theme songs. You just have to listen over the sounds of munching popcorn…