Classic films often feature a famous song that help to encapsulate the film, both in theme and mood. A good example is “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. Of course Rose’s heart went on, she got to lay on the dry wall panel, forcing Jack to freeze to death in the water. Couldn’t you have taken turns, Rose? Anyway, some films feature a song that we all know, but that was never released as a big single. That’s fine. It’s the unheralded songs that help to complete these masterpieces. The 80s were a grand time for movies. The storytelling was great, and there was an earnestness mixed in with a cheesiness that made these films special. The following is a list of the top 5 movie songs of the 80s that impacted us in a way a song like “Ghostbusters” never could: Click the song title for the link.
1) Long Road–This song concludes Stallone’s First Blood- his heart-wrenching introduction into the world of John Rambo. It begins slowly with lyrics, so subtle and lacking in heavy-handedness, that you find yourself in a trance: “It’s a real war, right outside your front door, I tell ya. Out where they’ll kill ya, you could use a friend…” (Were Vietnam vets really still encountering this much resistance when this film was made in 1981?) It then swells to a plea for acceptance: “Each step is only the beginning..oh man, is anybody listening?” Oh, man?
2) Win In the End–Marc Safan’s (!) haunting new wave vibe sells this tune that plays as Scott (not the wolf) leads the Beavers to victory in Teen Wolf. But for a song with a chorus as straightforward as, “Win in the end, I’m gonna win in the end,” the lyrics seem a bit incongruous. As Scotty is shown making the exact same lay-up three times in the final game, we hear “I was slowly losing hope, twisting frayed ends of the rope, in a suicidal fantasy.” When he leaps into the arms of his fat teammate Chub, on two identical occasions, another lyric: “I was blinded by the pain, running wild through the rain, in a parody of ecstasy.” Doesn’t this seem a little much? Even for a werewolf?
3) Young Hearts–When it comes from the music from the (real) Karate Kid, there are differing opinions. Purists love Karate Kid 2’s “Glory of Love” with Cetera’s haunting “..we did it all for love…” ending. (Hey guys, instead of having a love ceremony in the midst of a brewing tsunami, maybe get off your asses and help evacuate the village before the little girl gets stuck on the bell tower?) The trendy pick today is “You’re the Best Around,” the song playing when Daniel is kicking butt in the first tournament. (By the way, the name “Miyagi” is not difficult to pronounce, so how is it that karate people, who presumably have many connections to Asian names and culture, cannot get it right?) To me “Young Hearts” stands out, as the song playing during possibly the dorkiest date anyone has ever gone on. What’s more, it’s a tune clearly co-opted by the film, since it’s obviously a song about a “young heart” dying in a horrifying car accident. These are the lyrics to the chorus, “Young hearts beat fast, driving down the road. Rubber, plastic, metal, glass, why did you have to go? Young hearts die young…” This, while Daniel beats a girl in table hockey, while grimacing and pumping his fist in exhilaration.
4) Fight to Survive–When you think great songs from film, naturally your mind goes to to work of Jean Claude Van Damme. This song, from one of his only good films, Bloodsport, plays as we see a montage of fights in the secret underground fighting tournament (which is so secret it has a fully functioning scoreboard, and looks like it takes place in a back hallway of a shopping mall). The song is pretty standard fare except for the rhythmic “Kumite, kumite, kumite” chant that is heard before the beginning of each verse. I have to assume this was written for the movie, because how many songs just happen to use the Japanese word for “secret underground fighting tournament”?
5) Angel of the City–I just had to do another Stallone movie, as the songs in his films are priceless treasures. The song “Angel of the City” from Cobra was enticing, since it’s playing as we flash back and forth from Cobra penetrating the darkest alleys of the city looking for information, to Bridgette Nelson doing a modelling shoot with many robots. “Another hard day, in the city…” is the wistful opening line. And what city is this anyway? Where is this lawless metropolis? Doesn’t matter. There’s Cobra, fully blending in wearing a long trench coat, chewing a match, and flashing a gun with an actual Cobra emblazoned on it, in his waistband for all to see. Yeah, the guys at the tattoo parlor and hot dog stand (these are the places he goes-check the link) always know where the nearest axe-murdering cult is.