On Thursday, I posted a Cinematical Seven list featuring seven songs that had gotten a new lease on life after appearing in a movie (even if several of them made me stabby ... and our own Jessica Barnes agrees with me). I then opened up the floor to readers to weigh in with some of their own choices, but one commenter, @nixskits, took things in the opposite direction: he listed songs that are totally overused in movies. That was such a great topic that I wanted to do something with it -- and that something turned into this article.
I don't want to get too crazy here, but I do want to point out a few of the songs that send me grabbing for the remote so I can press the mute button, or groaning when they start to play (usually over a montage ... ) in a movie theater. The film industry is filled with creative people -- so why can't they come up with some better tracks to convey the mood of their scenes?
Nixskits nailed some great choices -- including "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood and The Destroyers, "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, and the Godfather of Soul's "I Got You (I Feel Good)." I concur on all those selections (although it pains me on the James Brown -- great song, but it's way overused). Those aren't the only songs we're sick of hearing though. I've come up with a few more that should be banned from movie soundtracks for at least a decade. You can find them after the jump. I hope you'll take a minute and share some of your own selections in the comments section once you've finished.
"Oh Yeah" by Yello
I'll be honest, before writing this article I had no idea who did the song "Oh Yeah." In fact, if you'd mentioned it to me by the title, I'd not even be sure what song you were talking about. However, if I say "the song that plays over the end credits of Ferris Bueller's Day Off," you know exactly what I'm talking about. Perusing the track's Wikipedia page reveals that it's been used in at least 13 mainstream films (which is 12 too many) -- as well as on TV and in numerous commercials. It worked pretty well in Hughes' film, but in the years since it's been run into the ground. "Oh Yeah?" More like "Oh No!" at this point.
"All Star" by Smash Mouth
If I somehow wind up in Hell when I die, I have little doubt that the rest of my eternity will be spent suffering while this damn song plays in the background. "All Star," a 1999 track from the minimally talented group Smash Mouth proves that you don't have to be good to sell a lot of records -- you just have to make a song that's so simple that anyone who hears it winds up with it stuck in their head for three weeks even if they hate it. Why, just mentioning it here has the stupid chorus running through my brain already. If you need a generic up-tempo song for a montage featuring a loveable loser overcoming terrific odds then here's your track. The song was the main theme for Mystery Men but also turned up in Shrek, Rat Race, Inspector Gadget and about 8 billion commercials. If I never hear "All Star" or Smash Mouth again, it will be too soon.
"Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf
I'm sure that back in the day, Born to be Wild was a pretty great song. Then something terrible happened -- Hollywood got a hold of it. Now this track about being a badass out on your bike on the open road is instead a generic montage soundtrack for every ironic scene where some yuppie gets on a motorcycle. Clearly this a perfect use for it, because nothing screams "heavy metal thunder" quite like Dr. Doolittle 2. My question is, how did this not wind up in Wild Hogs?
Steppenwolf has the dubious distinction of having two songs that belong on this list -- "Born to be Wild" and the even more annoying "Magic Carpet Ride." Remix it, scratch it, update it however you want, but for the love of some deity please stop putting it in movies.
"Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves
If I had a dollar for every time I saw a movie with this song in it I could ... buy myself the CD. This bouncing groove from Katrina and the Waves is really popular with the guys who license songs for movies because whenever you need a track to go over an upbeat moment in your film, what could possibly be better than hearing Katrina belt out how good she's feeling because she's walking on sunshine? The funny thing about this track is that it's been overused -- but in a lot of good movies. American Psycho, High Fidelity, and Moon have all featured the song -- which was never good in the first place, but someone in Hollywood thinks it's the bee's knees. Of course, it's also been in films like Daddy Day Care, Bean, and Look Who's Talking. Quality films or not, there's no denying that this song makes me wish I were deaf every time it plays in a movie.