In many cases, a movie’s soundtrack is just another piece of its marketing campaign. But occasionally, a song from a film actually becomes more popular than the film itself. Here are eight you can probably sing from memory (whether you want to admit it or not), from movies you’ve probably never heard of. Consider this a spoiler alert – if you read the name of a film and don’t want the plot described, just skip to the next one.
(NOTE: For a song to qualify, it has to have originally been released as part of a soundtrack. And I decided to stick to movies from the 60’s onward. Otherwise, this list might be all Gershwin and Porter.)
Let’s count ’em down…
8. “Heaven” by Bryan Adams, from A Night in Heaven (1983)
And love is all that I need
And I found it there in your heart
It isn’t too hard to see
We’re in heaven.
Beautiful… unless it turns out that “Heaven” is the name of a male strip club. Kind of changes the song a little, right?
A Night in Heaven is about a buttoned-down college professor, Faye, who’s going through a rough patch with her husband. Her sister takes her to Heaven, and she’s shocked to learn that the star dancer is one of her students. AWKward. As “Ricky the Rocket” peels off his sci-fi spacesuit to give Faye a lapdance, the sister suggests, “Give him an A!” Later in the movie, Faye gives him a lot more than that, if you know what I mean. (They have sex.)
Interestingly, the Bryan Adams song “Heaven” isn’t used for any of the steamy moments. It’s first heard over the opening credits, as we watch Faye’s rocket scientist husband ride his silly-looking bike:
It comes back again during the film’s final scene, in which Faye apologizes for bedding Ricky the Rocket and the couple reconciles:
So I guess the meaning of the song is, “You may have gone to a strip club called ‘Heaven,’ but that’s not really heaven. Our simple domestic bliss is.”
I really hope no one actually believed that Didi sang it herself. Oddly enough, I remember her more for her role in “Shining Time Station” than “Grease,” even though she was only in two episodes (or so IMDB claims).
Great compilation and analysis!
first off, great blog. I found your page from a Film Experience link. This is one of the coolest posts I’ve read in a LONG time.
I love how many coincidences there are, like Frenchie’s dubbing, the AIDS song from the prostitute movie, and especially the Muppets version of a softcore porno song. Hilarious.
I’d love to read a “Great Movies with Terrible Songs” post.
Keep up the good work. I’m going to add you to my blogroll.
Great work! It’s a lot to take in — and it definitely yields to rereading! I didn’t know about the Dionne Warwick one. Pretty cool. Although the Heaven one made me laugh the most.
I’d definitely love to read a “Song based on the movie that describes the plot and gets it wrong” post. But I have weird tastes.
Great idea, and a fine list!
Some other worthy candidates:
Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from the Kim Cattrall-Andrew McCarthy vehicle “Manniquin”, which Mystery Science Theater fans will recognize.
Dan Hartman’s “I Can Dream About You” from “Streets Of Fire”, a here-and-gone Diane Lane-Michael Pare action film/rock musical.
Diana Ross & The Supremes “The Happening” is not one of their best remembered hits now, but it reached #1 on the Billboard Pop chart and was from a horrid youth-culture film starring Anthony Quinn and Faye Dunaway.
George Benson’s “The Greatest” from the Mohammad Ali biopic of the same name was not a hit, but like “New York, New York” it found a second life with Whitney Houston as “The Greatest Love Of All.”
I’m not sure if this qualifies or not, but “I Will Always Love You” was originally sung by Dolly Parton in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” long before Whitney Houston covered it fo “The Bodyguard”. However, it would be the Houston version that seems to have had the staying power.
Great list! Don’t forget “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Koamoze from Prêt-à-Porter (Ready to wear)! An all star cast flop.
The one I always think of is a song that was hugely popular when I was in high school, called “Here Comes the Hot Stepper,” or something like that. A hip-hoppy dance number that many of my classmates were obsessed by, which was from the soundtrack to a lesser (in my opinion, anyway) Robert Altman movie, Ready to Wear, or Pret-a-Porter. No one in my high school class knew what the hell the movie was, which just fed my pretentious teenaged film geek ego, or geego, if you will.
I’m not sure that this was a strict policy, but I think Matt may have been excluding musicals, so Best Little Whorehouse might not have made the cut.
My suggestion, when this post was being written, was “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail, but I guess the song wasn’t enough of a hit or the movie not obscure enough.
An American Tail is NOT obscure enough! Best Mouse as Jew movie evar!
One that just occurred to me the other day when I was listening to the new Girl Talk Album is that “Ghetto Superstar” by Pras, ODB, and Mya is originally from Bulworth. But I wonder if I love that song more than most people and if most other people associate it strongly with the film (Warren Beatty was in the video, at least a little bit, I think).
My suggestions were:
“Against All Odds” from _Against All Odds_ (the Phil Collins song that might as well be called “Take a Look At Me Now.”)
“X ‘Gon Give It To Ya” from _Cradle 2 Tha Grave_
“Blaze of Glory” from _Young Guns 2_
But Blinks only took the best of the best.
And the American Tail one isn’t even close, Matt — that movie is as well-known as the song, easily.
I’ll point out Honeymoon Suite’s “What Does It Take,” from the film One Crazy Summer.
Also, Celine Dion had a 1992 hit with “If You Asked Me To,” which was a cover of Patti LaBelle’s 1989 song used during the closing credits of “Licence To Kill,” the final James Bond movie before the prolonged dormant period prior to Pierce Brosnan taking over the role.
Here’s another one that is very, very obscure: Roy Orbison’s remake of “Crying” featuring k d lang. It was from a movie called “Hiding Out” in which Jon Cryer plays a guy who poses as a high school student to avoid hitmen from the Mob.
I’d throw in Madonna’s “Crazy for You” from Vision Quest (1985), her second #1 single (she appears briefly in the movie, as a nightclub singer).
Belinkie strikes again!!!
I was thinking “I Try” by Macy Gray huge hit in 98-99 but was originally released in 97 in the movie Picture Perfect, Jay Mohr is so versatile.
Also, “But not Tonight” Depeche Mode from Modern Girls. Clayton Rohner of Just One of the Guys, I loved those horrible 80’s movies.
mlawski, An American Tail might be the best mouse-as-Jew movie ever, but in the context of all media, that honor definitely goes to Maus. :)
Great post, Matthew! It reminded me of why movie blogs are frickin’ awesome.
I got 2….with you Im born again by billy preston and syreeta from the movie fast break….dunno what this song was doing in this movie about basketball…the other is driving my life away by eddie rabbit from the movie roadie
Here’s another one: The late-disco era hit “On The Radio” (performed by Donna Summer, written and produced by Giorgio Moroder I believe) was apparently written for the now almost forgotten 1980 movie “FOXES” directed by Adrian Lyne: Jodie Foster and Scott Baio star as troublemaking kids running around the late 70’s rat trap San Fernando Valley!?! You can’t miss that one! lol
A great list.
But, what about “Unchained Melody,” one of the most recognizable songs out there.
It was written for the obscure prison film “Unchained” in 1955, ten years before the Righteous Brothers’ version.
Donna Summer’s “Last Dance,” from the forgettable 70s flick “Thank God It’s Friday.”
So THAT’S why it’s called “Unchained Melody!” Great one, Binx! I did decide before I started I wouldn’t look before 1960. But had I known about the single most played song of the 20th century being from an obscure prison film, I might have put it at number one.
Great informative list. The NIGHT SHIFT tale was news to me. I too was thinking of the Dan Hartman song from STREETS IF FIRE but then again, I am always thinking about that movie!!!
Also: “Gangsta’s Paradise” from the mediocre movie “Dangerous Minds.”
I don’t agree with the analysis of The Woman In Red movie. I don’t think the song was trying to be sarcastic or ironic. I think the fact that Gene’s character was only 90 minutes away from Charlotte , yet he paused to call his wife showed he was having second thoughts. I thin that “I Just Called to Say I KLove You” song being played at that moment in the airport as he sat there is an indication that he is torn between his love for his wife vs. his desire to be with Charlotte (Kelly LeBrock’s character). The fact that his character doesn’t continue on to Los Angeles to meet up with her when he’s so close further shows he’s second guessing the whole thing and doesn’t know whats gonna happen next. Oh, and his wife wasn’t chehating with the daugther’s botfriend, she is talking on the phone and he is (in his immature, juvenile way) trying to seduce her and she is simply trying to fend him off, which she unsuccessfully does until her daugther calls him away. I guess I see the movie in a whole other way than the person who did the analysis above. anyhow thats my 2 cents. Its a great 80s movie though, cheesey but fun to watch.
Would anyone know where I can find the soundtrack/movie scores for the 1974 movie The Beast Must Die?