The lady had the day off from work, so she and I spent the morning watching the original Highlander, a wonderfully mediocre film that made us ask two questions:
1. What is up with Christopher Lambert's accent?
2. Why don't movies have badass original songs any more?
There was a time called the '80s when original songs were requisite, regardless of genre. Ghostbusters has not one, not two, but three original songs. (And please don't forget Run DMC's contribution to the sequel.) Kenny Loggins, as my pal Nate from PopDust points out, had chart-topping singles for Top Gun, Caddyshack, and Footloose. And then, of course, there's the song to which we all had the time of our lives.
I'm sure there are business reasons for the decline in ridiculous movie tie-in songs. A strong soundtrack isn't the moneymaker it once was, and record labels no longer have godlike control over their artists. Once the golden age of music videos fizzled out, and grunge became dominant, it stopped being possible for a mainstream film to feature mainstream music. And it's possible that once the cocaine haze of the 1980's wore off, someone realized that rapping about fictional characters isn't very cool.
There's no way that a single Number One hit was so excellent, it forever crippled the idea of movie-tie in music. Not when the practice continued for years after the film's release. Not when the idea of single events forever changing the course of mankind's destiny has been discredited by every freshman year history student. There's no way that a single video was so indulgent, so ridiculous, so—but wait. We forgot about Prince.
I knew that, as part of Prince's Warner Brothers captivity, he was forced to record the Batman soundtrack. I knew about the scene in the art museum. But I did not know about Batdance. It's a seven minute-long argument against the 1980's, a spectacle of dismal dancing, a neon orgy that doesn't just prefigure Batman & Robin —it nearly outdoes it. If the formula for the chart-topping original song was set by Ray Parker, Jr., Prince took it so far that it would never work again. He broke it forever. This, kiddies, is why we can't have nice things.
My friend Fallon, when she's not blogging about the horrors of the weather for Scars, has an excellent knowledge of the dark world of original music. She suggests the titular song from Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, by Dokken, and the unbelievably amazing "One of the Living," from Beyond Thunderdome.
Tina and Max, together at last. What a beautiful world.