In the UK we have two music channels that dedicate an hour or so a day to “non-stop Movie Classics” (or something similar.) I catch this occasionally when I’m channel hopping and the same selection of songs are being played. Bryan Adams – “Everything I do (I do it for you),” Celine Dion – “My Heart will Go On,” or Berlin – “Take my Breath away.”
It was while I was sitting through another rendition of Ronan Keaton singing “When you say nothing at all” that I wondered why there aren’t any decent movie songs anymore. I’m not talking about soundtracks, Hans Zimmer still has that wrapped up, but I mean a single released by a current artist which is designed as another marketing technique for a blockbuster movie.
When I was growing up, movie songs were a great addition to marketing of a movie and gave you a rare glimpse at more clips from the movies. There were some great selections when I was growing up, from Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose (Batman Forever) to the Dirty Dancing classic “Time of my Life” by Billy Medley and Jennifer Warnes. These are classics and in some cases are improved by being attached to a movie and used in the actual film itself.
Some are even more closely linked. The same channel-hopping experience I found Ray Parker Jr’s “Ghostbusters” and “Men in Black.” In fact, Will Smith was the king of producing movie songs, sometimes bettering the film he was actually in (Wild Wild West).
I’m not sure when this marketing tool began to fade away. Every summer you’d find at least one major movie song attached to a big summer release but that hasn’t been the case for a while. There are some exceptions; Bond songs are part of the film itself, rather than the marketing and more recently Ellie Goulding was tasked with bringing some credibility to the 50 Shades of Grey movie. These seem to be exceptions rather than a resurgence though.
It’s a shame too because there are plenty of films this year that would actually benefit. Mission Impossible 2 had the excellent Limp Bizkit song “Take a Look Around” and another band’s interpretation of the iconic theme could be interesting. Another spy movie that could benefit would be The Man from UNCLE; that sixties vibe lends itself to an iconic, old-school song.
I also think Marvel have missed a trick with their Cinematic Universe. From Iron Man onward they could have had a decent track added to the soundtrack as the movies “song.” The closest the franchise has come is AC/DC’s “Back in Black” for Iron Man or “Hooked on a Feeling” for Guardians of the Galaxy. These were used brilliantly but were older songs, not the newer, more iconic movie song they could have been.
Overall, think it’s time we bring back the classic movie song. We shouldn’t be looking back at Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs Robinson” or “Ben E King’s “Stand by Me” without beginning to add new songs to the collection. I also think it’s a marketing tool that studios are missing out on. Maybe I’ll just have to wait for whoever is doing the Spectre Bond song this year.