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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Really Reel"

When I come up with TITMT questions to ask, I try to save the more "ambitious" ones for the weeks I have more time to dedicate to them. That being said, expect me to throw out a few thinkers now since it's summer.

Anyway, last week when I asked what your favorite movie soundtrack songs of all time were, I figured I'd have a lot to say on the subject. Never did I anticipate just how much I'd have to say and how hard it would be knowing where to begin. Those few of you who tried to participate, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Although I asked for particular favorite songs, I realized that was a really hard list to make. So from there I took it to favorite soundtracks. Even that was a tall order to fill.

So for the first time ever, at least I think, I decided to tinker with the TITMT question after I asked it. By going in this direction I'm leaving out a lot of great movie music, but once you see the way the direction I went, I think you'll understand why so many great ones were not included. If this changes your answers too, feel free to consider this an addendum to the post you've already written or an attempt to narrow down the inspiration for the post you've yet to write.

The new and improved question I'm about to answer is...What are the best uses of music in movies and how were these songs used?

In no particular order...

1. "All I Want" By Stephen Bishop: This song was used in the little known movie, All I Want For Christmas. It's the story of two kids played by Ethan Embry and Thora Birch who want to reunite their estranged parents. In the one scene, a young Ethan is watching old home movies of his family, remembering the good ol' days he wanted to recapture. This song was never a well known movie theme. In fact, it came from a man who was probably best known for another great movie song, "It Might Be You" from Tootsie. It doesn't stop me from remembering it all this time and including it here.

2. "Wild Horses"- The Sundays: Though not written specifically for the film, Wild Horses is featured in the movie Fear starring Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon. At this point in the movie, Reese's character is taken by the mysterious "bad boy" that Wahlberg is playing, as are the viewers. It's their first date, and they go to the carnival. I always thought carnivals and boardwalks were some of the most romantic and idealistic settings, especially for young, first love. Of course the scene itself is rather risque given the use of the "climax" on the roller coaster, but it still manages to capture so much innocence and excitement, all in four minutes or less.

3. "All I Want Is You"- U2: If you want to see some of the best relationship angst footage out there, look no further than the Generation X classic, Reality Bites. In the movie, Winona Ryder's character is torn between two men, the man that represents her past, her best friend and slacker, played by Ethan Hawke, and the grown up future, played by Ben Stiller. It is Ethan's desperate portrayal of a man in love that totally makes this movie though. "All I Want Is You" is the perfect song to capture his feelings and the footage that is used in conjunction with this song is just brilliant.

4. "Everybody Knows"- Concrete Blonde: Once upon a time, Christian Slater was considered to be the epitome of cool. I know it's hard to believe now, but it's true. In Pump Up the Volume, Christian plays a quiet loner by day. Secretly though, he is a larger than life persona at night on a pirate radio station he broadcasts out of his own home. Through his words and philosophy, he single-handedly creates an uproar and a small town revolution. In the scene that "Everybody Knows" is featured, the radio station's broadcast has just been cut. All of the local high school students are gathered around, praying for its return. The station prevails with the crescendo of this song, perfect for the crescendo of the movie as well.

5. "In Your Eyes"- Peter Gabriel: If you were a girl growing up in the eighties, chances are you fell in love with John Cusack at one time or another. If you really did your homework, the role that made you swoon was Cusack's portrayal of the earnest, Llyod Dobbler. Llyod represents all the nice guys who have carried a torch for that unattainable girl. Only difference is, Llyod actually manages to get her, making him the hero for all those regular guys out there. "In Your Eyes" of course, if featured in the infamous boom box scene as Llyod stands out Diane's window, exhibiting his undying devotion. It's the kind of stuff that makes any girl weak in the knees.

6. "Eye of the Tiger"- Survivor: I have a confession to make. I'm not completely sure if I've ever seen the entire Rocky series, let alone the whole movie Rocky III in which this song is featured. Still, I included it here, not so much for its use in one particular scene, but instead as a representation for all the scenes like it. "Eye of the Tiger" is the end all be all of, "get your blood pumping, no one can beat us" type montages. It's about overcoming the odds and going on to win. It's been used in the same way many times over, and no other song does it better than this.

7. "Stagger Lee"- Llyod Price: Before Shag became known as Austin Powers tagline, it was a great underrated dance, then a great underrated movie. The movie Shag was made in the late eighties but was supposed to be a coming of age film about four friends in the 1960's. In the film, the girls are having one last girls weekend before Phoebe Cates character goes off and gets hitched. In one weekend, the girls all manage, of course, to find themselves in very different ways. "Stagger Lee" is the song two characters dance to in one of the all time movie cliches, the dance off. It might not be the most famous dance off of all time, but in my mind, it will always be one of the best.

8. "You're The One That I Want"- Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta: When I think of classic on screen duets, I think Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in Grease. This song is used in a scene that needs no explanation, but to not include it in a memorable movie list just seems wrong.

9. "Up Where We Belong"- Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes:
In my mind, the early eighties heralded in a great heyday of great love themes featured in sometimes equally great movies. An Officer and a Gentleman was one of the first big uses of the theme so well with the story itself. Everyone is wondering if Richard Gere's character is going to leave Debra Winger in the dust and then in walks Gere, in all his uniformed glory, ready to "rescue" the girl he loves.

10. "I've Had the Time of My Life"- Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes: While the entire soundtracks (yes I said soundtracks) Dirty Dancing was so memorable, the one song that emulates what movie soundtracks are all about was the big dance number at the end of Dirty Dancing. Just like Grease, it's a scene that really requires no explanation, however it did require heavy rotation when I was growing up.

11. "Try A Little Tenderness"- Otis Redding: In Pretty In Pink, young Molly Ringwald is worshiped by two very different guys, the pretty Blaine, played by Andrew McCarthy, and the lovable Duckie, played by Jon Cryer. If You Leave is the song that is used in THE prom scene, yes I wrote THE in capital letters. Who will Andie choose, Duckie or Blaine? It's a decision that some still say went the wrong way. Despite Andrew McCarthy's horrible wig in this scene, I still say it went the way it should have. Still the song I choose to feature here is the classic lip syncing scene, performed brilliantly by Jon Cryer's character in the record shop. If you haven't seen it, it is in your best interest to collect your 200 dollars, pass go and proceed straight to You Tube, stat.

12. "That Thing You Do"- The Wonders: Unlike many of the other songs on the list, That Thing You Do is one of those songs that isn't so much featured in one particular moment. After all, the movie itself bares the same title. But That Thing You Do was the story of a fictitious band's quick rise to fame that needed an original tune that sounded as if it would have been a big hit back then. That's what they got with the irritatingly catchy ditty, That Thing You Do. Although the song is used repeatedly throughout the film, my favorite moment is when the boys of the band, The Wonders, hear their song on the radio for the first time. The song itself, as well as their reactions, is pure glee.

13. "Through The Eyes of Love"- Melissa Manchester: Arguably the sappiest inclusion, this song was featured in the melodramatic soap style, seventies movie, Ice Castles. It's the story of a young and talented figure skater who almost loses her career and her dignity after a bad accident which causes her to become blind. Down by not out, she continues to skate and even makes it to the championship, hiding her blindness to all the onlookers. She skates her big comeback performance to "Through the Eyes of Love". Afterwards, the audience throws flowers onto the ice in a form of appreciation not knowing of course, that she is blind. Once she stumbles, the audience gasps in disbelief and shock. Her boyfriend, played by former teen dream Robby Benson, hobbles out on to the ice uttering the classic line, "We forgot about the flowers". The audience, realizing just how much this young woman has truly accomplished, gives her the much deserved standing O.

14. "Oh Yeah"- Yello: Speaking of Oh's, the inclusion of "Oh Yeah" was a given in my book. Not only did this song earn it's place in eighties movie history, it earned it over and over and over, being featured in a handful of great eighties movie slow motion montages. According to Wikipedia those movies include, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Secret of My Success, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, She's Out of Control and Soul Plane. And that's just its contribute to movies. It's also been featured on television, particularly as part of the classic Twix candy bars campaign. Some songs embody a particular movie in time. How many though can say they've contributed to so many different movies?

15. Terms Of Endearment Theme: The eighties were known for some great instrumental themes including but not limited to, Chariots of Fire, St. Elmo's Fire and I guess anything with fire in it. The one I decided to include on this list though is the instrumental theme to Terms of Endearment. That's because this instrumental piece completely scored an entire film brilliantly, not just one scene. Terms of Endearment itself is a movie that managed to span entire life times of the characters involved. When the theme would swell, so would the emotion. It was poignant and punchy in all the write parts and for that, its inclusion was necessary.

16. Anything by Kenny Loggins: Our list ends with the man, the myth, the legend Kenny Loggins. Choosing just one great Loggins soundtrack song to feature is like trying to choose which one of your children is your favorite, it simply isn't done. The movies he's penned songs for include, both Caddyshack 1 and 2, Footloose, Top Gun, Over the Top and even the children's film, The Tigger Movie. When I think of eighties films, I think of Loggins. Most importantly however, I remember his fondly. It's not like he's dead or anything, but it seems that when it comes to movie soundtracks, they simply don't write 'em like that anymore.



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