Yesterday, while working, I got a song in mind that I didn’t notice for awhile and then, when I did notice it, it wouldn’t leave. There’s no explaining why this song suddenly occupied my brain, but it did. The song was “Like a Cannonball,” a bad crossover attempt by the Spanish-language boy band Menudo.
“Like a Cannonball” is a piece of crap song that I knew because I was a fan of the 1984 piece of crap movie for which it was written, Cannonball Run 2 (starring Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise). Aaaaanyway…it got me to thinking about all the good songs that came from bad 80s movies, too.
So here we are! Five songs that I do like, that came from 80s movies that were, well, not so good.
5. “Kiss” (Prince, 1986)
I was 14 when Prince’s second movie, Under the Cherry Moon, was released. My sister and I saw it on opening day because, well, Prince! I’m sure I was too young to understand what Prince was trying to do. As an adult, I get it, but the film still doesn’t work. The accompanying soundtrack album (Parade) not only hits it, it hits it big! It has two of my favorite Prince songs of all-time, including this massive hit.
4. “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” (Deniece Williams, 1984)
I don’t want to say that Footloose was a bad movie. The 12-year-old me LOVED it. The grown up me loves it, still, for both the nostalgia aspect of it but also for the corniness and the simplicity and the intensity of it all. It is what it is, as they say. Part of “what it is” was a vehicle for a whole bunch of MTV hits, not the least of which is the poppy dance song by Deniece Williams, still a great one for the GenX dance floor.
3. “Rhythm of the Night” (DeBarge, 1985)
The tropical influence, popular in the 80s, is all over this pop hit. There’s a lineage of soul and R&B greatness here, too, in the DeBarge family. I can see why some hated this song but it never bothered me. I loved it, and I still think it makes people happy when they hear it today. What most probably don’t remember is that it was from the film called The Last Dragon (actually titled Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon), a Motown produced film that blended African American life with the Kung Fu and supernatural genre. I loved it! LOVED IT! But I also know it was a piece of crap.
2. “Live to Tell” (Madonna, 1986)
I didn’t see At Close Range until I was in my 20s. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just not overall that good. The acting is powerful, if not a little moody. Madonna’s song from the soundtrack (hubby Sean Penn was the star) was bigger than the movie, not only because the film bombed but also because the song was a massive hit. It’s one of my most favorite Madonna songs, a real change from what she sounded like before.
1. “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” (Tina Turner, 1985)
I have to admit that I liked the 1985 movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. As a kid, I was too scared to watch the original Mad Max or the hit sequel The Road Warrior because I was pretty scared about violence in films. By 13 I was starting to like cinematic violence, and so this (very sanitized) sequel to the previous films attracted me. Plus, it had Tina Turner, a huge budget, and lots of teens in revealing frocks. It was probably made for my demographic, and it worked. I like it a lot. Time and taste being what they are, none of it holds up to my present-day eyes except for the kitsch factor. This hit song, however, which many might dismiss, is a real gem to me. It’s super overproduced (very indicative of the time) but the sheer talent of Tina Turner brings it home in a way nobody else could do. She elevates pop.