Listen along to the Playlist
Notes from Awesome Soundtracks for Questionable Films
1. My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars, Over The Edge (1979)
Over the Edge is an American coming of age crime drama directed by Jonathan Kaplan and released in May 1979. The film, based on actual events, had a limited theatrical release but has since achieved cult film status. It was Matt Dillon‘s film debut.
Although the film received critical acclaim , the soundtrack definitely contributes to that.
Director Richard Linklater said the film influenced his film Dazed and Confused. Over the Edge was an inspiration for the music videos for the songs “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and “Evil Eye” by Fu Manchu.
- “Surrender” – Cheap Trick
- “My Best Friend’s Girl” – The Cars
- “You Really Got Me” – Van Halen
- “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” – Cheap Trick
- “Come On (Part 1)” – Jimi Hendrix
- “Just What I Needed” – The Cars
- “Hello There” – Cheap Trick
- “Teenage Lobotomy” – Ramones
- “Downed” – Cheap Trick
- “All That You Dream” – Little Feat
- “Ooh Child” – Valerie Carter
2. On The Dark Side – John Cafferty, Eddie & The Cruisers (1983)
The film was a box office flop, receiving many negative to mixed reviews from critics. The film was released in theaters on September 23, 1983 and grossed $1.4 million on its opening weekend. It would go on to make a paltry $4.7 million in North America. The film was pulled from theaters after three weeks and all of the promotional ads pulled after one week.
When making the film Initially, Davidson said that the Cruisers sounded like Dion and the Belmonts, but when they meet Frank, they have elements of Jim Morrison and The Doors. However, Davidson did not want to lose sight of the fact that the Cruisers were essentially a Jersey bar band, and he thought of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The filmmaker told Vance to find him someone that could produce music that contained elements of these three bands. Davidson was getting close to rehearsals when Vance called him and said that he had found the band—John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band from Providence, Rhode Island.
Davidson met the band and realized that they closely resembled the band as described in the script, right down to a Cape Verdean saxophone player, whom he cast in the film. Initially, Cafferty was only hired to write a few songs for the film, but he did such a good job of capturing the feeling of the 1960s and 1980s that Davidson asked him to score the entire film.
The movie Eddie and the Cruisers didn’t do very well when it was first released, and neither did this song. Vance explains: “What happened was, the movie came out and that was the end of it. And about a year later, Cafferty and I were working on his second album. The big deal out of the whole thing was that Cafferty got a record deal. And so we were working on the second album and we got a phone call from Columbia that said, ‘You just sold 25,000 albums today.’ What are you talking about? They said, ‘Eddie and the Cruisers.’ When HBO first went on the air, they would play a movie for a month in rotation, like, you’d see it 7 times a day. And it became a f–king smash. And we were stunned. It just goes to show you, you show up, you do a great job to the best of your ability, and you never really know about the results. When the movie came out it bombed. We were very, very lucky with that, and wound up selling almost 4 million albums.” (Read more in the interview with Kenny Vance.)
3.King of Pain – Sting, Demolition Man (1993)
Demolition Man is a 1993 American science fiction action film directed by Marco Brambilla in his directorial debut. It stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. The film was released in the United States on October 8, 1993.
The film tells the story of two men: a crime lord and a risk-taking police office Cryogenically frozen in 1996, they are reanimated in 2032 to find mainstream society changed and all crime seemingly eliminated.
While the film did good at the box office, it is still questionable if it’s a good film. But by having Sting do the majority of the soundtrack, that is pretty much a guarantee the soundtrack was going to be good.
Soundtrack is mostly tracks by Sting
- “Demolition Man” (Sting) – 5:27
- “King of Pain” (live) (Sting) – 7:21
- “Shape of My Heart” (live) (Sting, Dominic Miller) – 4:32
- “Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)” (live) (Sting) – 7:29
- “It’s Probably Me” (live) (Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen, Sting) – 6:18
- “A Day in the Life” (live) (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 4:06
4. The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band, Urban Cowboy (1980)
The term “Urban Cowboy” was also used to describe the soft-core country music of the early 1980s epitomized by Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Johnny Lee, Mickey Gilley, Janie Frickie and other vocalists whose trademarks were mellow sounds of the sort heard in the movie. This sound became a trademark in country music from the early to mid 80’s in which record sales for the genre soared. However, by the mid to late 80’s this sound became increasingly controversial, considered bland and formulaic by music critics and an increasing number of country fans. By the mid to late 1980s, country record sales and country radio listenership were declining as a direct backlash to this style, chronicled by the late New York Times music critic Robert Palmer in a 1985 page one story. By 1986, a new, more elemental style, New Traditionalism, arrived, building on the past popularity of Ricky Skaggs, John Anderson and George Strait. This sound hearkened back to traditional country of the 1940s and 1950s, and introduced new voices like Randy Travis, Reba McEntire and Dwight Yoakam.
5. A Million Miles Away – Plimsouls, Valley Girl (1983)
The film originally was conceived as a teen exploitation film to capitalize on the valley girl fad inspired by the Frank and Moon Unit Zappa song “Valley Girl.” Zappa explored the possibility of making a “Valley Girl” film and received inquiries from several studios, though nothing materialized. Zappa later unsuccessfully sued to stop production of the film, claiming it infringed on his trademark.
Cage and Foreman found it difficult to do the breakup scene at Julie’s front door because it was shot late in the filming when Cage and Foreman were dating. It took several takes and some counseling by Martha Coolidge. She told Foreman to think of another guy she had broken up with.
Had generally positive reviews, but the fact the soundtrack puts this over the top.
Many of the songs used were minor chart hits in 1982–83. Josie Cotton’s “Johnny Are You Queer?” was a regional hit in Southern California in 1981, placing #5 on KROQ-FM‘s Top 106 songs of the year and “He Could Be the One” from her album Convertible Music had reached #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. The song heard over the opening credits is “Girls Like Me” from Bonnie Hayes‘ 1982 album Good Clean Fun, which “bubbled under” the Billboard 200 album chart at #206. The Plimsouls‘ “A Million Miles Away” and the Payolas’ “Eyes of a Stranger” were moderate hits in 1982, reaching #11 and #22, respectively, on Billboard‘s Top Tracks chart. “I Melt with You” by Modern English reached #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.
The song “I Melt with You” occurred twice in the movie: in the ending credits and in the love scene montage. Director Martha Coolidge heard it on the radio and decided it caught the spirit of the movie. She had to call the staff at the station and sing it to them to find out what it was called because they didn’t announce what songs were after they were played.
The end credits show songs by the Clash, Culture Club, Bananarama, and the Jam, but these songs are not heard in the film. After the film was completed, problems arose in acquiring the music rights and substitute songs had to be dubbed. Altogether the music rights cost $250,000 on top of the film’s original $350,000 budget
The planned release of a soundtrack album on Epic Records (catalog number FE 38673) was cancelled due to the clearance problems with some of the songs. Instead, a different six-song mini-album was manufactured by Roadshow Records, a one-off subsidiary of Atlantic Releasing. The album never was released commercially, but a few copies were leaked and became highly valued collector’s items. More common is a counterfeit copy which is distinguished by the misspelling of the title as “Valley Girls” on the spine of the album cover.
The Plimsouls actually are the band playing in the bar scene.
6. Slave to Love – Bryan Ferry, 9 ½ Weeks (1986)
Considered too explicit by its American distributor, the film was heavily edited for release in the U.S., where it was a box office bomb, grossing only $6.7 million on a $17 million budget. It also received mixed reviews at the time of its release. However, it became a huge success internationally in its unedited version, particularly in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, making $100 million worldwide. It has also acquired a large fanbase on video and DVD and has developed a cult following.
The main single released from the 9 1⁄2 Weeks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was “I Do What I Do”, performed by Duran Duran bass guitarist John Taylor, giving his first solo singing performance during a hiatus in Duran Duran’s career. The song reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #42 on the UK Singles Chart. Music for the score was composed by Taylor and Jonathan Elias. Original music for the movie was also written by Jack Nitzsche, but his compositions are not included on the soundtrack.
The soundtrack also included tracks from Luba, Bryan Ferry, Dalbello, Corey Hart, Joe Cocker (“You Can Leave Your Hat On“), Devo, Eurythmics and Stewart Copeland. Winston Grennan‘s reggae “Savior” as well as Jean Michel Jarre‘s “Arpegiator”, played during the sex scene on the stairs in the rain, were not included on the record.
7. Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes, Take Me Home Tonight (2011)
The title comes from the 1986 Eddie Money song of the same name, also played in the theatrical trailer and on the menu screen of the Blu-Ray and DVD releases. Despite having the same name, it never actually appears in the movie.
Principal photography was completed in 2007, but Universal Studios shelved the film until its 2011 theatrical release. Topher Grace posted that the release of the film was delayed when the studio did not know how to handle and promote a youth comedy film with portrayals of cocaine use, as the drug was prominent in the 1980s.
Its release remained delayed until Relativity Media subsidiary Rogue acquired the film from Universal Pictures for $10 million. The film was previously titled Young Americans and Kids in America, titles of popular songs by David Bowie and Kim Wilde.
1.Video Killed The Radio Star – The Buggles
2. The Fredricking – Matt & Tori
3. Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran
4. Situation – Yaz
5. That’s What I’m Talking About – Kyle
6. Kickstart My Heart – Mötley Crüe
7. Barry’s Advice – Matt & Barry
8. Straight Outta Compton [Explicit] – N.W.A.
9. Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes
10. Meeting Trish Anderson – Barry
11. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats
12. Rocket Surgeon – Wendy & Kyle
13. Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners
14. Oh Sherrie – That Loser That Always Shows Up At The Party With A Guitar
15. Everybody Have Fun Tonight – Wang Chung
16. Let My Love Open The Door – Pete Townshend
17. Can I Call You? – Matt & Tori
18. Live Is Life – Opus
19. Don’t You Want Me – Atomic Tom
8. What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, & Understanding – Elvis Costello
200 Cigarettes (1999)
1999 American comedy film directed by Risa Bramon Garcia and written by Shana Larsen. The film follows multiple characters in New York City on New Year’s Eve 1981. The film stars an ensemble cast consisting of Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Dave Chappelle, Guillermo Díaz, Angela Featherstone, Janeane Garofalo, Gaby Hoffmann, Kate Hudson, Courtney Love, Jay Mohr, Martha Plimpton, Christina Ricci and Paul Rudd. The film also features a cameo by Elvis Costello, as well as paintings by Sally Davies.
We had to pick an Elvis Costello o this mix since in the film Elvis Costello makes a cameo and shows up at the party in the end.
- Cruel To Be Kind – Nick Lowe
- In The Flesh – Blondie
- Just What I Needed – The Cars
- Save It For Later – Harvey Danger
- Our Lips Are Sealed – Go-Go’s
- I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
- I Don’t Care – The Ramones
- Boogie Wonderland – Girls Against Boys
- Ladies Night – Kool & The Gang
- It’s Different For Girls – Joe Jackson
- Nowhere Girl – B-Movie
- More Than This – Roxy Music
- Romeo & Juliet – Dire Straits
- (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding – Elvis Costello
- Blondie Medley: Rapture, Maria, No Exit
9. I Want You Around – The Ramones, Rock N Roll High School (1979)
The movie is set in 1980. Vince Lombardi High School keeps losing principals to nervous breakdowns because of the students’ love of rock ‘n’ roll and their disregard for education. The leader of the students, Riff Randell (P. J. Soles), is the biggest Ramones fan at school. She waits in line for three days to get tickets to see the band, hoping to meet Joey Ramone so she can give him a song she wrote for the band, “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”.
When the tyrannical Principal Togar (Mary Woronov) takes her ticket away, Riff and her best friend Kate Rambeau (Dey Young) have to find another way to meet their heroes—by winning a radio contest. When Miss Togar and a group of parents attempt to burn a pile of rock records, the students, joined by the Ramones (who are made honorary students) overthrow the teachers and hall monitors to take over the high school, with Miss Togar asking the musicians “Do your parents know you’re Ramones?” When the police are summoned and demand that the students evacuate the building, they do so, but then the students and the Ramones burn down the school as a final act of youthful rebellion.
The movie itself actually has decent reviews. But the film features so many amazing songs, not just by The Ramones. Other artists include Nick Lowe, Chuck Berry, Devo, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, The Velvet Underground and many more.
10. I Know What Boys Like- The Waitresses, Last American Virgin, 1982
The film is actually 1978 Israli film called Eskimo Limon (Lemon Popsicle).
After the success of the original film and its sequels in Israel, Davidson re-teamed with producers Golan-Globus to attempt to recreate the same success in the United States. Though the film’s plot and characters remained largely the same, the setting was updated from 1950s Israel to then-present day suburban Los Angeles. The soundtrack, a major facet of both films, was also updated from the original’s golden oldies to more contemporary new wave rock.
I personally feel it’s a terrible film and the only thing that makes it tolerable is the soundtrack. But it actually had decent reviews.
1.”Teen Angel Eyes” – Tommy Tutone
2. “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” – The Police
3. “The Girl U Want” – Devo
4. “Since You’re Gone” – The Cars
5. “Better Luck Next Time” – Oingo Boingo
6. “Are You Ready for the Sex Girls?” – Gleaming Spires
7. “I Know What Boys Like” – The Waitresses
8. “In the Flesh” – Blondie
9. “I Will Follow” – U2
10. “Oh No” – The Commodores
11. “Open Arms” – Journey
12. “That’s the Way (I Like It)” – KC and the Sunshine Band
13. “Love Action (I Believe in Love)” – The Human League
14. “Zero Hour” – The Plimsouls
15. “Shake It Up” – The Cars
16. “Whip It” – Devo
17. “Keep on Loving You” – REO Speedwagon
18. “Just Once” – James Ingram w/Quincy Jones
19. ‘When I Find You” – Phil Seymour
20. “It Ain’t Easy Coming Down” – Charlene
21. “Airwaves” – The Fortune Band
11. Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies, Repo Man (1984)
Repo Man is a 1984 American science fiction black comedy film written and directed by Alex Cox in his directorial debut. It stars Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez, with Tracey Walter, Olivia Barash, Sy Richardson, Vonetta McGee, Fox Harris and Dick Rude among the supporting cast. Set in Los Angeles, the plot concerns a young punk rock enthusiast (Estevez) who is recruited by a car repossession agency and gets caught up in the pursuit of a mysterious Chevrolet Malibu that might be connected to extraterrestrials.
Despite a troubled initial release due to Universal’s scepticism towards the film’s commercial viability, Repo Man received widespread acclaim, and was deemed by critics to be one of the best films of 1984. But really, a film about aliens & a repo man??? But it won a bunch of awards as well including the Saturn Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror films for best supporting actor & writing.
Iggy Pop volunteered to write the title song after his manager viewed a screening of the film.
- Repo Man – Iggy Pop
- TV Party – Black Flag
- Istitutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies
- Coup D’Etat – The Circle Jerks
- El Clavo Y La Cruz – The Plugz
- Pablo Picasso – Burning Sensations
- Let’s Have A War – Fear
- When The Shit Hits The Fan – The Circle Jerks
- Hombre Secreto (Secret Agent Man) – The Plugz
- Bad Man – Juicy Bananas
- Reel Ten – The Plugz
12. Lets Go Crazy – Purple Rain (1984)
Our first Oscar winning film on the list (we have one more)….for best song!
The film stars Prince in his acting debut playing The Kid, a character based in part on Prince himself. Purple Rain was developed to showcase Prince’s talents, and the film contains several concert sequences.
Eight months prior to his death, Prince purchased the house of “The Kid” in Minneapolis. Located on Snelling Avenue in the Longfellow community, it was used for exterior scenes in the movie. The house, owned by the Prince estate, is a popular tourist destination for fans of the movie.
This soundtrack is great not only for Prince but because the film also features Morris Day and The “mother fucking” Time.
13. If you Want me to stay – Sly & The Family Stone, Dead Presidents (1995)
Dead Presidents is based partly on the real-life experiences of Haywood T. Kirkland (aka Ari S. Merretazon), whose true story was detailed in the book Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans by Wallace Terry. Certain characters from the film are based on real acquaintances of Kirkland, who served time in prison after committing robbery in facepaint. The film also is loosely based on several incidents involving the Black Liberation Army, notably the Brink’s armored truck robbery.
The film depicts the struggle of returning war veterans of color who are neglected by the US government. Many Black and Latino veterans of the Vietnam War were denied benefits, compensation, and recognition for their efforts in serving their country.
Overall the film had mixed reviews, but only 44% of the reviews are positive. The soundtrack definitely overshadows the film (certified Gold)
- “If You Want Me To Stay”, by Sly & The Family Stone
- “Walk On By”, by Isaac Hayes
- “The Payback”, by James Brown
- “I’ll Be Around”, by The Spinners
- “Never Gonna Give You Up”, by Jerry Butler
- “I Miss You”, by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
- “Get Up & Get Down”, by The Dramatics
- “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go”, by Curtis Mayfield
- “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”, by Aretha Franklin
- “Where Is The Love”, by Jesse Campbell (singer)& Trina
- “Tired Of Being Alone”, by Al Green
- “Love Train” by The O’Jays
- “The Look Of Love”, by Isaac Hayes
- “Dead Presidents Theme” composed and conducted by Danny Elfman
14. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me – U2 , Batman Forever (1995)
Probably the worst film on this list…even though it probably made the most money, it was the highest grossing film of 1995. And what surprises me the most is it actually overall received positive reviews; maybe I’m missing something.
Many scenes were filmed but deleted from the film; other scenes had footage removed
Including a scene involving the escape of Two-Face from Arkham Asylum. René Auberjonois had another scene filmed here in the role of Doctor Burton, but his role was reduced in the final film. He discovers Two-Face’s escape, encountering his psychologist hanged in Two-Face’s cell with “The Bat Must Die” written in blood on the wall. This was supposed to be the film’s opening scene, but producers decided this was far too dark for a family audience. This scene appears in the comic adaptation and the novelization. Segments of the scene also appears on the U2 music video of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me.”
This film was also nominated for Oscars, although it did not win. It was nominated for best Cinematography, Best Sound Effects Editing,
- “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2
- “One Time Too Many” by PJ Harvey
- “Where Are You Now?” by Brandy
- “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal
- “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” by Massive Attackand Tracey Thorn (The Marvelettes cover)
- “Nobody Lives Without Love” by Eddi Reader
- “Tell Me Now” by Mazzy Star
- “Smash It Up” by the Offspring(The Damned cover)
- “There Is a Light” by Nick Cave
- “The Riddler” by Method Man
- “The Passenger” by Michael Hutchence(Iggy Popcover)
- “Crossing the River” by the Devlins
- “8” by Sunny Day Real Estate
- “Bad Days” by the Flaming Lips
15. Plainsong, The Cure – Marie Antionette (2006)
Our 2nd & last Oscar winning film on the list…but this time for best costume design! The production was given unprecedented access to the Palace of Versailles. The movie takes the same sympathetic view of Marie Antoinette’s life as was presented in Fraser’s biography.
In several 2006 interviews, Coppola suggests that her highly stylized interpretation was intentionally very modern in order to humanize the historical figures involved. She admitted taking great artistic liberties with the source material, and said that the film does not focus simply on historical facts – “It is not a lesson of history. It is an interpretation documented, but carried by my desire for covering the subject differently.”
The film received both applause and some boos during early Cannes Film Festival press screenings, which one reviewer supposes was because some of the French journalists may have been offended that the film was not sufficiently critical of the régime’s decadence.
However, film critic Roger Ebert clarified that, in actuality, only a couple of journalists had been booing during the press screening, and that the media had sensationalized the event. He stated that booing is more common in Europe, and sometimes done when someone feels that a film is “politically incorrect.”
Overall the film has low ratings, although Roger Ebert American film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four. He stated that, “every criticism I have read of this film would alter its fragile magic and reduce its romantic and tragic poignancy to the level of an instructional film. This is Sofia Coppola’s third film centering on the loneliness of being female and surrounded by a world that knows how to use you but not how to value and understand you.”
Personally I like Sophia Coppola films, including. But her choice of soundtracks is really amazing.
Soundtrack includes Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bow Wow Wow, The Strokes, New Order, Gang of Four, Adam & The Ants, The Cure and many more.