Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends! Or at least, the show that feels like it never ends, because this is the second in a three-part series counting down the thirty worst songs ever featured in movies. And as always, all of these are from my own warped B-movie fan perspective, so there’s no “My Heart Will Go On” or “Wind Beneath My Wings” to be found here. So without any further ado, let’s pick things up right where we left off, with the twentieth worst musical movie moment ever!!
#20 – Frank Stallone – “Far from Over”, Staying Alive (1983)
Legend has it that Staying Alive, the sequel to the disco blockbuster Saturday Night Fever, actually started out with a decent script by Fever screenwriter Norman Wexler. But his script had the utter misfortune to end up in the hands of Sylvester Stallone, who at that time was eager to prove he wasn’t just Rocky or Rambo by directing a movie of his own. He all but threw out Wexler’s screenplay, turning the film into a dumbed-down soap opera full of garish musical numbers (the Satan’s Alley Broadway show-within-the-show is the benchmark by which all tacky musical numbers are judged; It most certainly inspired the stage shows seen in Showgirls). John Travolta, reprising the role of Tony Manero, soon found his part reduced to the type of monosyllabic character that’s central to every script Stallone has ever written. And in the worst Stallone-inspired development of them all, when it came time to record the soundtrack the Bee Gees were pushed aside so that Sly’s little brother Frank could record some songs instead. Staying Alive the album was awful, but against all odds one of Frank’s songs, “Far from Over”, became a huge hit. People probably had no idea Frank Stallone sings on it (he really doesn’t, at least in the strictest sense of the word), or that it even had lyrics. The song’s recognition factor rests solely on its opening blare of horns, an overwrought instrumental passage that would quickly become a favorite for sports programming editors everywhere. This particular use of the track was so pervasive that “Far from Over” was parodied in a mockumentary SNL clip featuring Martin Short and Harry Shearer as synchronized swimmers who wanted to compete in the Olympics. Frank Stallone’s (unintentionally) lame song perfectly complimented their (intentionally) lame routine, which pretty much says it all.
Sample lyric: “This is the end / You made your choice / And now my chance is over.” Frank Stallone, telling it like it is.
#19 – Little Richard – “Scuba Party”, Catalina Caper (1967)
Catalina Caper was another gem from Crown International Pictures, a cheap, plotless cash-in on AIP’s beach party movies (down to having some of the same jokes) in which bikini gals and scuba-diving fellas get all tangled up in a plot to steal an ancient scroll. In between gratuitous underwater fight scenes, the kids find time to do the peppermint twist on yachts, where for no reason Little Richard magically appears to sing this little number. Richard, wearing a horrible gold lamé jacket and more makeup than all four members of KISS combined, performs “Scuba Party”, a lifeless pop song about all the fun to be had while scuba diving. Poor Richard desperately throws in lots of “whoooooos!” in a futile effort to inject some excitement into this number, but I’m sure appearing in a shoddy movie like this one was when he knew he’d hit rock bottom. He’d spend most of the next thirty years claiming to have inspired Michael Jackson, Boy George, Prince, and any other male singer of ambiguous sexuality.
Sample lyric: “Now forget about your troubles, don’t worry about your woes / ‘Cause at the scuba party, man, everything goes!” If Little Richard is involved, I have no doubt about that.
#18 – Patty Foley – “Shine Your Love”, Angel’s Brigade (1979)
As you can tell from the title, Angel’s Brigade (occasionally known as Angel’s Revenge) was a shameless rip off of Charlie’s Angels, only instead of three women jiggling around and catching bad guys, this movie had a whopping seven girls fighting crime: A Vegas singer, a school teacher, a stunt woman, a martial arts instructor, a top model, a high school kid, and a renegade cop hatch their own vigilante scheme to blow up a drug lab. Hey, it could happen. Unfortunately, the director was Greydon Clark, the same hack behind Joy Sticks, Uninvited, and Lambada: The Forbidden Dance, so obviously this movie had no hope of being anything besides an embarrassing piece of junk. Most shameful of all are the big name cameos. I can’t figure out how they roped Jack Palance into appearing as a crime boss, and I say that knowing full well his biggest credit at the time was hosting Ripley’s Believe It… Or Not. I’m also not sure how they secured appearances by Gilligan’s Island vets Alan Hale and Jim Backus, but considering they had already appeared in The Giant Spider Invasion and Myra Breckinridge, respectively, this was no big comedown. If you’re wondering who Patty Foley is, she provides the voice that the Vegas disco singer lip-synchs to in a “performance” at the very start of the film. But given the quality of the vocal, maybe they would have been better off with the actress singing herself. Foley’s voice is atrociously shrill and off-key, and it really doesn’t help matters when she has to sing dumb lyrics like “Shine, shine, shine, shine, shine, shine, shine your love on me”. Yes, folks, it’s the song that dares to compare true love to a flashlight. This one line is repeated so many times, you’d think there were no other lyrics in this song besides “Shine your love on me”.
Sample lyric: Upon another listen, it appears there are no other lyrics in this song besides “Shine your love on me”.
#17 – The Scorpions – “Under the Same Sun”, On Deadly Ground (1994)
Just like Staying Alive, On Deadly Ground had a director anxious to prove he was more than a brainless action star. And just like Stallone, Steven Seagal thoroughly humiliated himself in On Deadly Ground, a harrowing journey into Seagal’s twisted, conspiracy-obsessed mindset. He plays an industrial troubleshooter who, with the help of an Inuit medicine man, has to stop evil oil tycoon Michael Caine from destroying the Alaskan wilderness. And how does he do it? By blowing up an oil drilling platform, of course! This lunacy ends with a lengthy crackpot speech delivered by Seagal that goes on for three minutes (rumor has it that it originally went on for more than ten) as he blathers on about plankton and natural wisdom and how “big business” doesn’t want us to know that cars can run on garbage. But the pain doesn’t end there! As soon as Seagal’s speech ends, the credits roll to “Under the Same Sun” by the formerly metal band The Scorpions. There aren’t many things in this world more excruciating than the sound of a hair metal band doing folksy pop, but that was happening with alarming regularity back in the 90’s and this was the Scorpions’ attempt to cash in. So much for rocking us like a hurricane, I guess. The Scorpions now wanted everyone to join hands and sing campfire songs, or at least that’s the impression I get from lines like “‘Cause we all live under the same sun / We all walk under the same moon / Then why, why can’t we live as one?” Is this really the same band that once had an album cover that lovingly showcased a guy with forks jammed in his eye sockets?
Sample lyric: “And does it really matter / If there’s a heaven up above? / We sure could use some love.” Guys, you’re a heavy metal band. You don’t have to write lyrics like this to get laid!
#16 – Elvis Presley – “Yoga Is As Yoga Does”, Easy Come Easy Go (1967)
Elvis Presley made dozens of films, but despite his status as one of the biggest acts in rock history (in more ways than one), he never scored a single hit from one of his movies (that is, until 2002, when “A Little Less Conversation” from Live a Little, Love a Little was remixed and somehow, some way became Elvis’ first movie hit.) If you need an explanation for why Elvis movie soundtracks bombed, look no further than “Yoga Is As Yoga Does” from Easy Come Easy Go, one of several attempts by Elvis to prove he was still “relevant” in the late 60’s. In this film, Elvis plays a Navy frogman who falls in with a group of hippies. Under their tutelage, he dabbles in beatnik art, happenings, body painting, free love, and of course, yoga. Sadly, the highlight of the film is a musical number about how gosh-durn confounded Elvis’ character is by this new-fangled yoga. Not only is this some of the worst music the King ever sang along to (I’ll take my Elvis without lush orchestration, thanks), but these could also be the dumbest lyrics ever sung by anyone. I’m sure Elvis was wishing he had left the building instead of performing lines like the ones below.
Sample lyric: “Come on, come on, untwist my legs / Pull my arms a lot / How did I get so tied up / In this yoga knot? / You tell me just how I can take this yoga serious / When all it ever gives to me is a pain in my posteriors?” Yes, he does say “posteriors”. Although, to be fair, Fat Elvis’ ass was probably three times as wide as a normal ass anyway.
#15 – Silver Shamrock jingle, Halloween III: The Season of the Witch (1982)
In this third installment of the Halloween franchise, Dan O’Herlihy of RoboCop fame plays the Satan-worshipping head of Silver Shamrock, a toy manufacturer with plans to use a pumpkin-shaped mask and subliminal messages in a Halloween jingle to murder millions of children. But the real crime against humanity was the total absence of Michael Myers in the film. After two Halloween installments, producer John Carpenter planned to transform the series into an anthology of horror tales taking place around Halloween. This idea was greeted about as warmly as a rock in a trick-or-treater’s sack, so the franchise has been all Michael Myers, all the time, ever since. Some Halloween fans refuse to even admit the existence of Halloween III, but for me the real reason to erase this film from memory was the Silver Shamrock jingle, an annoying ditty set to the tune of “London Bridge” and sung by what sounds like the Smurfs on methamphetamines. Worst of all, it gets played at least a dozen times over the course of the movie. At one point in the film, a kid puts on the Silver Shamrock pumpkin mask, hears the jingle, and crickets and snakes start pouring out of his head. It was hard not to sympathize.
Sample lyric: “Eight more days ’til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween / Seven more days ’til Halloween, Sil – ver Shamrock!” Repeat for numbers six through one, or until your brain dissolves, whichever comes first.
#14 – The Village People – “Milkshake”, Can’t Stop the Music (1980)
Disco was dying an ugly death in 1980, so what better time for Grease producer Allan Carr to release his magnum disco opus, Can’t Stop the Music? And what better time for a musical origin story detailing the efforts of Steve Guttenberg, Bruce Jenner, and Valerie Perrine to create the Village People? And most of all, what better time to stage a movie claiming that the Village People weren’t really that gay after all? In every musical number in this film, we find the Leatherman, the Motorcycle Cop, the Indian, and all the rest being conspicuously fawned over by female dancers. And the worst of these numbers is “Milkshake”, an ode to creamy beverages sung by the Villagers in all-white versions of their regular costumes, as they strut and gyrate around Perrine sitting in a giant cocktail glass filled with milk. On the surface, the lyrics appear to be an innocent tribute to the joys of milkshakes, but considering this is the same movie featuring loads of naked male asses on display, I think we can draw our own conclusions. And when it comes to gay men singing the praises of milky beverages, all I know is that this “Milkshake” is not better than yours, damn right, it’s not better than yours.
Sample lyric: “Just get a glass of milk / You see it’s not very hard to make / Add some ice cream and blend / You will have yourself a great milkshake.” And coming up in the next verse, a really rockin’ recipe for lentil soup!
#13 – Will Smith (featuring Dru Hill, Sisqo, Kool Moe Dee, and Stevie Wonder) – “Wild Wild West”, Wild Wild West (1999)
I have to wonder if Will Smith has ever had an original idea in his entire musical career. (Besides, of course, christening the next thousand years “the Willenium”). Nearly every hit he’s ever had has been a direct copy of another, much better song. (“Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It” was taken directly from Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer”, and the theme from Men in Black was simply Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots” with different lyrics.) And so it was with the title tune from Wild Wild West, a startlingly unfunny update of the 1965 spy western series, and of course, a major flop. The same can’t be said of the accompanying theme song, which topped the charts. That’s probably because this particular song had already been a #1 hit back in 1976 when it was called “I Wish” and performed by Stevie Wonder. Hard to begrudge Stevie the songwriting royalties, but did he really have to perform on the song? And why does every Will Smith single feature more guest stars than a Love Boat episode? (Kool Moe Dee gets tossed into this mess purely because he once had an old-school rap song of his own called “Wild Wild West”.) Even worse, the song features a then-unknown silver-haired performer singing the entire chorus through his nose. That singer was Sisqo, meaning this song is at least partially responsible for his brief and horrible “Thong Song” recording career. It’s a good thing Will never tried to be gangsta, because it’s impossible to keep a straight face when he attempts to sound tough on lines like “Swallow your pride, don’t let your lip react / You don’t wanna see my hand where my hip be at.”
Sample lyric: “Understand me son, I’m the slickest they is / I’m the quickest they is / Did I say I’m the slickest they is?” Even Will Smith zones out during Will Smith songs.
#12 – “Hooray for Santy Claus”, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
In this abysmal holiday film, the children of Mars are picking up “Earth programs” on their TVs and jonesing for a Christmas mascot like our own jolly St. Nick. The leader of the Martian people, a guy who looks like Michael McKean with a radiator hose sticking out of his head, kidnaps Santa and bring him to Mars. Santa is overjoyed at the prospect of being held against his will, and even makes toys for all the Martian boys and girls. I’m not too sure what’s up with the title, because there certainly wasn’t a lot of conquering going on, but there was a ten year old Pia Zadora getting her first (but certainly not last) taste of awful cinema. The film also features a relentlessly cheery, amateurishly produced theme song called “Hooray for Santy Claus”. The lyrics are unnecessarily cloying (why say “Santy Claus” when “Santa Claus” fits the meter just as well?), but what really makes it sheer hell to sit through is the singing, which features several kids delivering the lyrics in unison. Actually, “unison” is too strong of a word, because none of the kids are singing on the same beat, let alone in the same key. The song plays over the opening credits, is heard as a theme throughout the movie, and shows up again during the closing credits, where the lyrics are actually shown on screen so everyone can sing along. And I pity any parent whose child came home from the theater singing this.
Sample lyric: “Hooray for Santy Claus / Yay, yay for Santy Claus / He’s fat and round, but jumpin’ jiminy / He can climb down any chim-e-ney!” I don’t really have to explain why these lyrics are bad, do I?
#11 – Puff Daddy (featuring Jimmy Page) – “Come with Me”, Godzilla (1998)
Back in 2001, when Sean “Puffy” Combs was on trial for crimes related to a nightclub shooting, his inexplicable celebrity status was obviously an issue when selecting a jury. Early in the process, Puffy’s attorney Johnnie Cochran asked a prospective juror what he thought of the defendant’s music, and the juror actually replied, “I think of him as more of a businessman than an artist.” Evidently, Puff Daddy sucks so much as a musical act that he can’t even get through voir dire without getting criticized. If there was one Puff Daddy tune that influenced that juror’s opinion more than any other, it would have had to have been “Come with Me”, a song that Puffy “composed” for the closing credits of the 1998 Columbia TriStar remake of Godzilla. I say “composed” because the song is a note-for-note copy of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, the only difference being Robert Plant’s sublime vocals have been replaced by Puffy screaming non sequiters like “See my errors / Know my faults”, or “It’s trauma / Feel the trauma”, and the especially telling lyric, “Shit backfired.” The 1998 US Godzilla was heckled as a soulless, lifeless imitation of a legendary classic, so I suppose Diddy figured one blasphemous remake deserved another. But nothing, and I mean nothing can excuse Jimmy Page for actually playing on this song. Why, Jimmy? WHY???
Sample lyric: “Bullshit I’m destructive / Some women find that seductive.” Obviously, J-Lo is not one of them.
So did you survive this one? If so, can your heart also take musical performances from Arch Hall, Jr., Vanilla Ice, Mae West, or the worst bludgeoning of a Beatles song ever? If so, be here next month, when the absolute worst of the worst, the ten most painful musical movie moments ever will finally be revealed to the world!