21 June 2018

21 June 2018 - Public Enemy - Fight The Power

From the 1989 Spike Lee joint Do The Right Thing, this song transcends the movie, which itself ends in a race riot.

This version of the video (which, yes, Spike Lee was involved with) isn't a real riot or even a rally, but it looks like one.  It IS a pretty clear demonstration of the group's political stances in the day.  Flavor Flav has moved on to a less political stance where he doesn't say "motherf*** him" about Elvis or John Wayne.  The video also featured Tawana Brawley in a cameo appearance - I won't go into her story here except to say that it was a very polarizing one in this community.

It's a great, powerful song - I'd almost say manifesto - that just happens to have been featured in a movie.

20 June 2018

20 June 2018 - Aimee Mann - Save Me

Few movie songs come with a better story than this one.

This song, along with the rest of the mostly-Aimee-Mann performed soundtrack, is from the P.T. Anderson movie Magnolia. I recommend this odd but delightful movie, just for the frog scene.  Trust me.  Right before she was approached by Anderson to do this movie, Mann had been dropped from her record label, and didn't have an easy future ahead of her in the music industry - and this is despite the huge "Voices Carry" in her past.

This song ended up being nominated for an Oscar (losing, somehow, to perhaps the worst ever Oscar-winning song, "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins, to whom she now dedicates this song when performing it live) and a Grammy (which she lost to a deserving Macy Gray).  She went on to found her own music imprint and remains a successful artist to this day.

The video - featuring Mann inserted into scenes from the movie - is even more interesting.  Perhaps the most star-studded music video of all time, this effect didn't happen by digital manipulation.  That's really Tom Cruise sitting in the same scene with Aimee Mann.  P.T. Anderson directed the video and asked the actors to stay in place at the end of shooting days while they shot this.

The song itself is a work of art.  Nearly two decades old, it sounds like it could have been written yesterday.


19 June 2018

19 June 2018 - Kasey Cisyk - You Light Up My Life

If you read this blog yesterday, you probably saw this coming a mile away. This is the song that denied "Nobody Does It Better" an Academy Award and a #1 spot on the Billboard charts.

If you didn't read this blog yesterday, you're probably wondering who Kasey Cisyk looks like Didi Conn (she doesn't - Cisyk sang, Conn lipsynced in a brilliant movie performance) and, more importantly, why this isn't Debbie Boone (her immense hit was a cover).

Either way, yesterday's blog got me to listening to this song, and I remembered how well-constructed it was.  Give it a listen and a chance.

18 June 2018

18 June 2018 - Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better

James Bond movie themes are a different animal than most other movie songs.

Before this one, they all shared the name of the movie. In this case, although the Marvin Hamlisch-penned song referenced the movie's title, it wasn't called The Spy Who Loved Me.

This song, although fondly remembered today, only made it to #2 on the Billboard charts... because the biggest hit of all time pre-Whitney was Debbie Boone's version of "You Light Up My Life", which spent 13 weeks at #1, in front of this song for three of them. "Nobody Does It Better" went on to also lose the Academy Award to Kasey Cisyk's version of "You Light Up My Life". AAAARRRGGGGGHH!

But enough about THAT song.  This song is great.  We should enjoy it today.  Tomorrow is another day.

15 June 2018

15 June 2018 - Coolio feat. L.V. - Gangsta's Paradise

From the 1995 movie Dangerous Minds, this was Coolio's biggest hit by far, and one that he took very seriously.  I'm sure you've heard it, but I always want to give you a fact about these songs you didn't know.

This song doesn't have a clean version - because it doesn't need one.  There's no profanities in it, at all.  This is because the song leans heavily on a sample of the song "Pasttime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder, who wouldn't approve the sample unless there was no profanity used in the song (which, by the way, was loved by Stevie in its last version).

So, feel confident that Stevie Wonder is keeping your kids safe.

14 June 2018

14 June 2018 - Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive

It's a little hard to believe it's taken us THIS LONG to post The Bee Gees, arguably the most underrated group in history. Because of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that they put together, and largely because of this song, the group is remembered for their dated disco work. However, they were producers and hitmakers long BEFORE and long AFTER this song.

Unfortunately, they also did that ill-advised Sgt. Pepper movie, which probably hasn't helped with their reputation.

Back to this song, though.  It set the mood for the whole movie and, really, the entire disco era.  It's now remembered fondly, although Barry Gibb's extreme falsetto was frequently ridiculed in the years immediately following the death of disco.  Now, I wish I had his voice.


The song is so awesome, they did a 2nd video for it, in a pre-MTV era where a video wasn't a foregone conclusion.

13 June 2018

13 June 2018 - B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

If you've seen Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, you know this song comes as a jarring and unexpected but pleasant surprise in that movie.  If you haven't, you might be surprised to learn that this song was written for a movie, by the famed songwriting team Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It would be the first of many Number 1 hits for B.J. Thomas as well.

It's justifiably considered one of the greatest movie songs of all time, even winning the Academy Award for Best Song in 1970.