by Adam Riske and Patrick Bromley
F This Movie Fest 7 tailgate.
Adam: My first pick is the title song from Licence to Kill, performed by Gladys Knight.
I’ve always been a big fan of this easy listening tune and the video does that great thing movie music videos do where they show clips throughout and it makes you want to watch the film again immediately. I like that the video starts with Gladys Knight entering from what looks like the late ‘80s Cineplex Odeon logo while dressed like the manager of a Cineplex Odeon theater during its grand opening weekend. The “Hey babe…” at 1:46 is pretty sensational and the “bump, bump” at 3:26 is enough to bring you to your knees. Licence to Kill is a pretty underrated Bond song, in my opinion. Dated? Sure, but it goes down smooth. It’s perfect for a late summer night’s walk around Lake Geneva. P.S. Can you and Mike podcast this movie soon? It’s the first Bond movie I ever saw (at a dollar show in Morton Grove!) and I think we all need another Gentleman T-Dalts fix as soon as possible.
Patrick: Great pick! I don’t have quite the same affection for it as you, mostly because I think it’s so at odds with the tone of the actual movie it’s representing. They tried to do something really different with Licence to Kill and I don’t think it really works, which bums me out because it’s 50% of T-Dalts’ outings as 007. Don’t get me wrong; if this is his “Bad” Bond movie, it’s waaaay better than most of the other “Bad” Bond movies his fellow Bonds made. This song is super listenable and I actually really love those first two big chords, but then it turns into -- as you point out -- something I hear while getting my teeth cleaned.
I’ll go super obvious with my first pick and name “On Our Own” from Ghostbusters II. It might be the only thing I like about Ghostbusters II.
I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of Bobby Brown or his music, but this song slays. The rap section is pretty lame, but it was the late ‘80s and plenty of movie songs had raps that described the plot. Plus, it’s one of the few songs I can rap along with and not get side-eyed. I’m expected to be lame if I’m singing along to “On Our Own.”
I rewatched the video for this recently and noticed a couple of things: 1) Bobby Brown seems unnaturally intense given the song he’s singing, which makes me think that maybe PCP deserves a co-writing credit and 2) They do that thing they did in the first Ghostbusters video where a bunch of unrelated celebrities make appearances. It’s fun for a while, but then one of the people that shows up is Donald Trump and I can never watch that video again. I maybe can’t even listen to the song. Is it too late to swap in “Most of All You” from Major League?
Adam: I’m also a fan of “We’re Back” from the Ghostbusters II album. I used to dance to that soundtrack (you read that right) in my backyard with one of my friends who also lived in the neighborhood. It takes a special kind of understanding amongst buddies when you’re like “Hey Jeff, do you want to come over and breakdance to the Ghostbusters II soundtrack again?” And he was like “No, we’re 30 years old.” He’s a good guy. I remember, back in ‘89, his mom asked us if we wanted to see Batman or Honey I Shrunk and I was like “...the Kids,” because how lazy are you that you can’t say the rest of the title? Anyways, great pick with “On Our Own,” worst President aside.
My next pick is “It Had to be You” by Harry Connick Jr. from When Harry Met Sally...
The video is the most wonderfully embarrassing thing you could ask for. First off, what a voice! Second off, why isn’t he in more of Independence Day? Third off, this is the kind of music 1989 Meg Ryan deserves to be romanced too. She’s a classy lady. It’s not like you’re going to put on “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.” At the 0:45 mark, is HCJ imitating Luke Perry’s style or vice versa? Can you imagine the day Harry Connick Jr. realized his voice sounded like that? He probably skipped sixth period that day.
Patrick: I think half of Harry Connick Jr.’s middle school skipped a period or two when he was around.
Adam: This is great music to listen to while you wait for the rest of your party to arrive at Wildfire and/or Maggianos. The whole song is capped with just the most perfect shot ever at the 2:36 mark. I want it as my wallpaper and I don’t mean on my laptop.
Patrick: Real talk: I love the music in When Harry Met Sally…, and it’s one of the few instances where I don’t find the soundtrack too cutesy for a romantic comedy. That’s probably because the movie is one of my five favorite romantic comedies ever, so maybe it’s a chicken/egg situation.
I’m going to pick “Shocker” from Shocker, written and performed by a supergroup who willingly chose to call themselves “Dudes of Wrath” on purpose.
Among the Dudes’ members are Paul Stanley, Michael Anthony, Tommy Lee, Desmond Child and Rudy Sarzo. Holy shit! Oh, plus the song is amazing. It grabs you with a killer riff to begin, then sings the title of the movie a bunch of times, and then at 2:45 becomes a completely different and wholly inspiration anthem for the youth of 1989. Like, when did this stop becoming about Horace Pinker and start getting real? I’m not alone in thinking that the soundtrack to Shocker is the best thing about Shocker (Mike Pomaro has my back), just as I suspect I’m not alone in thinking this is the best song on the Shocker soundtrack.
Adam: I saw Shocker for the first time last Scary Movie Month and I definitely did not rewind the DVD during the Megadeath “No More Mr. Nice Guy” sequence. I thought the spinning camera set to that cover was absolute bliss.
I have to pick “Batdance” for my next selection because I have so much history with it and I admire how much of a journey it is; it’s like seeing an opera or reading an epic poem.
I don’t even know if the Batman soundtrack is objectively good or not. There are a lot of songs I like on that album (mostly the deep cuts like “The Arms of Orion,” “Vicki Waiting,” and “Scandalous”) but I mean, it’s so...weird. Everything about “Batdance” just screams final cut and I love that about it. Did I use to wait around hoping this music video would show up on MTV? You bet I did. I wish Kendrick Lamar had the confidence to do “Panthdance” but I guess he’s too cool for that.
Patrick: You have NO idea how many times I sat around watching MTV waiting for the “Batdance” video. In fact, my entire life can be divided into “Before Batman” and “After Batman.” No movie has been bigger for me. Ever. I had that soundtrack memorized. My mom bought it for me as a surprise gift after I had to get a bunch of teeth pulled so I could get braces. It meant so much to me and I listened to it again and again and again. My best friend and I would take our dual cassette recorders and make “Batdance” remixes and then play them from our bikes as we rode around our neighborhood. There’s no fucking way it’s actually a good song, but good luck ever convincing me of that.
I guess I’m going to have to lay myself bare at this point, because I’m go with Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” from Working Girl. I know that no one has ever mistaken me for being cool, but this should confirm how incredibly uncool I am. I love this song with zero irony. If anyone understands this, I know it’s you. Like, this song soars. If I ever have a single success in life, I hope this song is playing when it happens. I’m not getting my hopes up. Also, OMG Carly Simon.
Adam: High five! I like that song too. I’m imagining Dakota Johnson walking off set to it when she wrapped Fifty Shades Freed.
Since you went out on a limb, I’ll do so as well. I love the music in The Little Mermaid. I grew up in a household that was really big on that movie, so I saw it many times. As a kid, I liked “Under the Sea” the most, but as an adult I’m all about “Part of Your World.”
My favorite aspect of it is how it builds to a pretty moving and universal chorus. Have you ever sung a song so many times to yourself that you start riffing on it or doing different voices to it? Well, I have definitely not sung “You want thingamabobs? I got twenty” in Al Pacino’s voice. I don’t know why I did it, but my suspicion is that when you live by yourself you sometimes force yourself to say random things just to fill the noiseless space. It’s like you’re trying to make sure you can still speak because if you couldn’t you’d be just like land Ariel and no one wants that to happen to them. I also invented lyrics for “Under the Sea” and sang them to my friend Chris once after we saw Open Water: “Out on the shore, we laugh and play. Under the sea we pass a-way!” That would have made for a great tagline. All kidding aside, it’s not so much that I love “Part of Your World” as a song (I do really like it, though), but more that it’s something I share with my family and it makes me feel good when I think about it.
Patrick: “Part of Your World” is great. Pretty much all of the songs in Little Mermaid are. I love it even more these days because of how many times I’ve heard my daughter sing it and reenact the “Ariel on the rock” climax (she’ll just stand on something and belt out “Woooooorld!”). If anything has diminished the song at all, it’s that it became codified as one of the “beats” in every subsequent animated Disney film: the song in which the main character -- usually a princess -- dreams of a different life. That’s Disney’s fault way more than it is the fault of The Little Mermaid, but it does have the result of lumping the song into a category of sameness that didn’t exist when it came out in 1989.
I’m going to pick “Pet Sematary” by The Ramones. It’s another song that I’m not sure really matches the tone of the movie that precedes it, but it’s such a fun and kick ass song that I don’t care.
It’s super catchy and features those great, typically dopey but wonderful Ramones lyrics: “I don’t want to be buried/in a Pet Sematary.” Genius. And knowing what a huge rock and roll fan Stephen King is, it makes me happy that he got one of the greatest rock bands ever to record an original song for one of his movies.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine had the Brain Drain album on which the song appeared. I wasn’t crazy about most of that record, so we would just listen to “Pet Sematary” and their cover of “Palisades Park” on repeat. I feel like the recurring theme of this column is that the world used to be a lot simpler.
Adam: Yeah, I always thought the Ramones song from Pet Sematary was charming in its simplicity. I don’t mean this as a slight, but it reminds me of when I wrote a song for the movie Problem Child when I was 8 and it was called “He was a Problem Child.” You don’t need to bury the lead.
My last pick (before a few honorable mentions) is “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy from Do the Right Thing.
I picked it for a few reasons: 1) I like the beats and shouting; 2) It’s so married to the movie that both become enhanced by each other and 3) I would feel bad if we did a best songs from 1989 movies and didn’t include something so iconic. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of end credits tune called “Never Explain Love” by Al Jarreau, but that’s more because I prefer R&B to Rap usually. Rapping is hard. I tried it on Def Jam Rapstar for Xbox 360 and I was not good. On the other hand, I have sung Usher at karaoke before and even did a falsetto. I was told I was better than people expected but still not good.
What’s your last pick bud? Also, what are some honorable mentions of either songs or scores/themes from 1989 movies you enjoy?
Patrick: I don’t think there’s a better movie song in 1989 than “Fight the Power,” both for the song itself and for the movie it’s representing. I don’t think the world would be the same without Do the Right Thing, and Do the Right Thing wouldn’t be the same without “Fight the Power.”
I’m struggling a little with my last pick, which is a song from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. There are songs like “Break Away” and Extreme’s “Play With Me” and “In Time,” the song that plays in the Clarence Clemons future utopia, that are much more recognizable and iconic. But I have to go with “Walk Away” by Bricklin, which most readers might recognize from the opening riff that plays during Bill and Ted’s big final presentation.
This is, like, such and emotional rock song. It sounds like a big inspirational anthem, but it’s actually super sad. Naturally I love it. When the day comes that I finally take my last bath, I might have this song playing. You also have my permission to play it during the slide show that I assume you’ll put together for my funeral, provided you also bring Billy the Kid, Abraham Lincoln, and Joan of Arc.
As far as honorable mentions go, I’ll bring up “UHF” from UHF, Michael Damien’s cover of “Rock On” from Dream a Little Dream (Better than the original? Discuss.), "Time Runs Wild" by Danny Wylde, also from Dream a Little Dream, “After All” from Chances Are (which is pretty but reminds me of my parents divorce for some reason; I bought my mom the cassette single and I swear I can remember her crying listening to it, but I might be wrong about that. (Mom, discuss.) Also “Cause I’m a Blonde” from Earth Girls Are Easy, and, of course, “Doggone It (You’re the Dog Now, Man [The Ballad of Jerry Lee]) from K9.
Adam: Baths can also be fun. Have you tried them with bubbles? I just saw The Abyss for the first time last night and I can’t wait to take a bath! I’m going to put a jacket on a mop and do chest compressions to revive it like it’s Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
My honorable mentions include Survivor’s “Ever Since the World Began,” which plays over the end credits of Lock Up, Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” from Say Anything, which I think might pre-date the movie but I’m not sure, Jeff Healey’s “Roadhouse Blues” cover from Road House, George Harrison’s “Cheer Down” from Lethal Weapon 2 and a couple of novelty songs: “It’s Cookie Time” from Troop Beverly Hills and “Top That” from Teen Witch.
Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to a few film scores I love, too: James Horner’s work on Glory and Field of Dreams, John Williams’ scores for Born on the 4th of July and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and, of course, Danny Elfman’s Batman.
Did we miss anything? Leave a comment below.