LINER NOTES: Sound & Vision
Sound & Vision playlist
It's Oscars night, so we tailored today's session as a "pre-Oscars jump-off" and focused on soundtrack music—albeit to un-awarded films. Not to be confused with shitty films! Fritz the Cat is a bit of a mess, but the movie is pretty mandatory watching at a certain point in your life and the soundtrack is pretty solid. Foxes is perhaps best known as the only time Scott Baio was allowed to act in the same frame as Jodie Foster, as well as Donna Summer's magnificent "On the Radio," but I chose Giorgio Moroder's chase theme for its energy to kick off the session. From there, I wanted to cover a few musical bases while keeping the energy up for the 2-minute poses, so loads of disco and funk courtesy of Jermaine Jackson's noteworthy contribution to the Mahogany soundtrack and M.I.A.'s sample fodder "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy" from the fantastically over-the-top (as if it could be anything else) Bollywood film Disco Dancer. By the way, glad at least one person found Ice-T's "Dick Tracy" joint mildly amusing.
As usual, there were sub-themes aplenty:
- A nod to the likelihood that Adele won for "Skyfall" by playing some spy/Bond joints: Many Bond themes are pretty well-known, but the Bond franchise's soundtracks have actually never received an award (three nods, but no statues). That said, I went with a lesser known track from one of those Pierce Brosnan Bond films, Garbage's "The World Is Not Enough," because I have always had a soft spot for Shirley Manson's voice and breakbeats. And, man, how have I not played Ennio Morricone's "Deep Down" from Danger: Diabolik yet? It's a pretty entertaining film of its period and genre, but the soundtrack is so ace. And so different from what he is normally known for. Il maestro!
- Soundtrack music to unawarded films that appeared in other films: Would have been better if it were "soundtrack music to unawarded films that appeared in other unawarded films," but the great reuse of the Olive Oyl ballad "He Needs Me" in Punch Drunk Love and Tarantino's subtle use of the haunting All About Lily Chou-Chou music in the first Kill Bill made it impossible for me to not highlight these songs. But, a prime example of what this sub-theme should have been is the recent reuse of Queen's "Flash" in the uber-meta-party scene in Ted. Or, as David noted, the great reuse of the A Summer Place theme in Animal House. Amazing!
- Fake bands: I know, it's an idea asking to be cherry-picked. In my defense, I avoided Wyld Stallyns and Stillwater (then again, Almost Famous was pretty well-received, which would have disqualified it from our criteria). I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, so any opportunity to share some Sex Bob-Omb works for me. This is embarrassing to admit, but I didn't know K.K. Rockwell and Rodney C formed Double Trouble for Wild Style until I read Ed Piskor's fantastic recent Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree entry. Does that make them a fake band? Not entirely sure, but there is enough artifice to "debuting" on the big screen that allows them to make comfortable bedfellows with Adrian Younge's band in Black Dynamite and André 3000's Percival in Idlewild.
- Actors moonlighting as singers: pocket that knee-jerk reaction to dismiss a person for not staying in their lane. I mean, really, how could you possibly hate Bill Murray crooning "The Best Thing" in John Waters' Polyester? Sure, not everyone wants to hear Jason Segal do a labored Dracula schtick, but you kinda need to hear Doogie Howser get all musical 'n' shit in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. There's a reason why geeks love them some Joss Whedon...
- Blaxploitation-ish: Between shitty-films-with-awesome-hip-hop-soundtracks, like High School High and Who's The Man?, and blaxploitation soundtracks, there was more than enough material to fill out several sessions. To keep things different, I tried to pull music from films that have nods to either the genre or era of blaxploitation. Hence, Black Dynamite (a deep well of inspiration, up there with Bob Dylan, for LINER NOTES) makes an appearance. "Roc Boys" from American Gangster is also in the mix. I admittedly ran out of steam on this idea and just threw in some blaxploitation joints like "Shaft in Africa" and "Hung Up On My Baby" from Tough Guys. I'll have to revisit this some other time.