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A Collection of Songs Made Awesome by Film, TV, and Humanity

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    Songs Made Awesome

    Consequence of Sound Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman began our feature A Collection of Songs Ruined by Film, TV, and Humanity with the following observation: “Influence is a bastard, a rugged dog, waiting on a street corner with gnarled teeth. Once that mutt clenches down, it leaves behind a hideous scar — a reminder.” The point being that while a song may remain the same, our notion of it can be changed by the different ways we experience it.

    In that instance, we talked about how film, TV, and anything else we could think of had forever ruined certain songs for us. But there are two sides to every Schwartz, Lone Starr. So, consider this our attempt to shelve our requisite Internet pessimism for just a bit. Here is a collection of songs made awesome by film, TV, and whatever else people may do. So, yeah, influence may still be a bastard and a rugged dog waiting on a street corner. But, you know, sometimes that dog waits with puppy kisses instead of gnarled teeth. Quick, now read before we become miserable jerks again.

    –Matt Melis
    Senior Editor

    “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3

    Made Awesome By: The Sopranos opening theme

    Since Tony Soprano first emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel in 1999, every red-blooded American male with an HBO subscription has fantasized about being the brutish, yet likable mob boss. (Hell, one therapist friend of mine suggested that the show actually spiked his business; either that or maybe our parents really did fuck us up that badly.) For my part, I drove around rural Pennsylvania in my parents’ SUV, blowing smoke rings into my rearview while pumping the show’s badass theme, “Woke Up This Morning” by UK collective Alabama 3. One problem, though. The track—off A3’s Exile on Coldharbour Lane—sounded nothing like the show’s opening. Sure, the song was there, but it was buried beneath a nearly two-minute spoken-word intro, a cowboy rap, and enough tedious lulls to make Tony call the band a bunch of cocksuckers (or bloodsuckers if we’re talking A&E reruns). Even the “Chosen One Mix”—the one used for the show—isn’t much better. Truth is, “Woke Up This Morning” isn’t worth getting out of bed for outside of that incredible 1:34 opening sequence. —Matt Melis

    “Making Time” by The Creation

    Made Awesome By: The yearbook montage in Rushmore

    It’s hard to pick just one song that sticks out in Wes Anderson’s arguably best soundtracked film, 1998’s Rushmore. But after 15 years and many viewings of the landmark film, it’s The Creation’s “Making Time” that always makes me tap my foot and wish I could’ve been a member of the Bombardment Society. The song from the 1960’s Brit-garage pop group has memorable guitar riffs, and the lyrics are in tune with the scene the song is used in: the montage of the numerous extracurricular activities that Max Fischer (played by Jason Schwartzman in his first acting role) is involved in to distract himself from his studies. A song about everyone “always singin’ the same old song” while Max is “seekin’ new advances” through his miscellaneous pursuits, ranging from the yearbook Editor-in-Chief to the President of the Rushmore Beekeepers, shows both Max’s disinterest in a normal education and Anderson’s keen ear and ability to perfectly soundtrack his films. —Pat Levy

    “Turn Me Loose” by Loverboy

    Made Awesome By: Wet Hot American Summer

    Whereas Chris Farley wrapped his sweaty body all over “Working for the Weekend” in our Ruined Songs, Ken Marino’s Victor Kulak turned Loverboy’s other hit single “Turn Me Loose” into a proper runner’s anthem — complete with short shorts, Jew fro, and a love for Abby Bernstein. It’s still cheesy — when isn’t Loverboy cheesy — but one viewing of Wet Hot American Summer turns the cheddar into sizzling sexy bacon. Not sure what that means but bottom line: I’ve run too many goddamn times to this song for it to be an ironic thing. The song rules and it’s all because of how dangerous Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song” can be too oblivious drivers. Turn me on and turn me loose — oh shit, a hay pile. —Michael Roffman

    “Cells” by The Servant

    Made Awesome By: The Sin City trailer

    Even if “Cells” didn’t score the noir-ish hyper-violence of the trailer for the long-awaited Sin City adaptation, it was already made awesome by someone omitting the vocals for the project. The instrumental track saves us from having to sit through the ham-fisted doom and gloom of lines like “my organs move like a squirm of eeels,” leaving only a dramatic guitar solo and appropriately moody synths. Robert Rodriguez’s comic book visuals make “Cells” more hard-hitting than the band’s bad poetry ever did. —Dan Caffrey

    “We Are the World” by USA for Africa

    Made Awesome By: The ultimate who’s who music video

    Good cause, shit song. We can all agree on that much, right? (That thud you’re hearing is the angry emails piling up in my inbox.) No doubt Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie penned “We Are the World” with the best of intentions—the charitable single sold over 20 million copies, raising tens of millions of dollars for African famine relief—but, in hindsight, wouldn’t you have rather given and skipped the actual song? Sure, you would’ve. (That time it was your inbox.) Still, even if “We Are the World” was a total dud of a song, it’s worth stomaching now and again just to watch everyone from Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder to Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper assembled in a studio together, sporting headphones, and rocking the mic as if lives depended on it. And, in this case, lives actually did. —Matt Melis

    “Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson

    Made Awesome By: Grey’s Anatomy

    Then channeling MySpace and New York piano bars, Staten Island songstress Ingrid Michaelson got her first big break (sic) when her song “Breakable” was aired in the very first episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Since then, the artist has maintained an intimate relationship with the show, contributing 14 songs over the nine seasons. Her previously unreleased song “Without You” was featured in the latest finale, but her pivotal moment was arguably when “Keep Breathing” closed Season Three. Grey’s fans will remember the double breakup of Cristina and Burke’s non-wedding day and Meredith and Derek calling time on their relationship. Michaelson’s mantra-like refrain (“All we can do is keep breathing”) resonates with the live action as well as referencing back to Meredith’s drowning and resuscitation. Lost? Invest in the box sets. —Tony Hardy

    “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones

    Made Awesome By: Carlton Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    Carlton Banks never failed to tickle funny bones throughout the six-year run of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, whether he was making the oddball comments of a young entrepreneur or strutting his contagious dance grooves to Tom Jones. His sensual hip sways and arm flair go down as one of the funniest dance moves to whip out on the dance floor, and one could never forget what song started such a jive: “It’s Not Unusual”. The song even captures one of most iconic scenes of the series, where Tom Jones unveils himself as Carlton’s guardian angel and ad-libs the song’s lyrics to detail Carlton’s life problems. In the scene, Jones reassures Carlton, “My friend, it happens all the time, and life will never do what you want it to,” and he even adds an extra spark of love with over-embellished “woahs”, making it hard to resist. Even though those woahs will always be hilarious additions to party mixes with songs like “What’s New Pussy Cat” or “She’s a Lady”, we can always wear a smile when we realize that life’s biggest road blocks aren’t unusual. —Sam Willett

    “Anyway You Want It” by Journey

    Made Awesome By: Rodney Dangerfield’s golf bag in Caddyshack

    Thirty-three years later, Caddyshack remains one of the funniest films ever made. (Personally, it’s my all-time favorite, and if it’s on television, well, that’s an hour and a half gone wayside.) That’s also 33 years that Journey’s hit single “Anyway You Want It” has been linked to Rodney Dangerfield, his cheap clothes, and bags of ice. There’s no denying the pleasure that’s derived from watching Dangerfield’s tomfoolery as Al Czervik, and similar to Chevy Chase’s own Ty Webb, there’s a grander philosophy at hand — almost Camus-like. When Tony D’Annunzio says, “So what!” to Czervik’s story of lugging bags of ice up stairs all summer as a kid, the rich entrepreneur responds simply: “So what? So let’s dance!” It’s a ludicrous response, but also part of a bigger picture. Life’s too short to fret over the harsh realities. It’s better to absorb the beauty of things and let things go. That’s what Journey’s equally perverse song says now following Caddyshack. Besides, don’t you want to dance like this? –Michael Roffman

    “I’m All Out of Love” by Air Supply

    Made Awesome By: Happiness

    Air Supply’s “All Out of Love” is the definition of lame. Whitewashed and overproduced, the song’s stale lyrics and daytime drama theatrics feel tailor-made for the pathetic, desperate, and out of touch–or, in other words, a character in a Todd Solandz film. Happiness, the filmmaker’s stunning sophomore effort, almost dares you to laugh when bumbling pervert Philip Seymour Hoffman and celibate recluse Camryn Manheim start slow dancing to the song. But in the hands of Solandz, a man whose well of empathy runs deeper than most, you won’t. Like many of the film’s denizens, Hoffman and Manheim are victims of their carnality, or, in Manheim’s case, her lack thereof. When set against their non-courtship, “All Out of Love” represents the sort of glossy, idyllic longing these two don’t, nay, can’t process. The song surfaces again when Hoffman knocks on Manheim’s door late at night. She answers in her nightgown and leads him to her bed, climbing under the covers as he curls on top of them. They don’t touch. The comfort they find in each other is similar to the comfort we find in a song like “All Out of Love”, the kind that doesn’t quite understand, but will still get us through the night. —Randall Colburn

    “Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta” by Geto Boys

    Made Awesome By: Office Space

    Hey, if you can’t be Tony Soprano, why not try for Scarface (the legendary Geto Boys MC). And if all else fails, you can always settle for Michael Bolton (or even Mike Bolton). As it turned out, the latter is about as close as I ever got to being a gangsta, but Office Space director Mike Judge’s inspired montage coupling this mellow Geto Boys classic with the world of soulless office drudgery almost made that seem like a viable alternative. So, yeah, I may file TPS reports, inhabit a cubicle, and prize a Swingline stapler above all other worldly possessions, but don’t be shocked if you see me cap an uppity LaserJet’s ass and exhale, “Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.” —Matt Melis

    “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly

    Made Awesome By: Scoring the climax of Manhunter

    To be fair, Iron Butterfly’s opus of psychedelic heavy metal was already pretty fantastic. But Michael Mann’s decision to include it in the climax of Manhunter (the granddaddy of Hannibal adaptations, for all you youngsters out there) made it an exercise in tension and psychological horror. Where as most directors would have picked something fast to score the biggest action sequence of the film, Mann went sludgy, which helped draw out the anxiety of watching an entire police squad surround the home of serial killer Francis Dollarhyde. Gunshots, cars crashing through walls, people crashing through windows, and of course, one long, nervous organ. Awesome. —Dan Caffrey

    “Sweet Dreams” by Roy Buchanan

    Made Awesome By: The Departed

    The first time I saw Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, I was struck by two fairly obvious, but still tongue-in-cheek and apt, metaphors used to end the film; the rat moving across the railing of Matt Damon’s apartment obscuring the image of the capital dome, and the use of Roy Buchanan’s “Sweet Dreams”. As the film draws to a close, many of the characters we’ve come to know as major players in the Boston mob scene as well as the law enforcement men chasing them have *SPOILER ALERT FOR A MOVIE THAT CAME OUT IN 2006* come to meet their untimely demise. The use of the emotional instrumental to wrap up the film was a fitting tribute not only to all those passed on in the film (haven’t shed a tear for Anthony Anderson like that since Kangaroo Jack) but also to one of the most underrated guitarists of all time. —Pat Levy

    “Your Song” by Kate Walsh

    Made Awesome By: Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

    If you were a teenage girl growing up in Britain in 2008, you probably saw this movie. For boys, it briefly turned British cinemas into a good place to meet your first girlfriend; rather like a Ben Howard gig but with a younger audience. As a boy, you’d be seriously outnumbered. The film also did quite a bit for the career of UK singer-songwriter Kate Walsh as her song “Your Song” provided the soundtrack for a pivotal scene, gaining her a legion of young girl fans who flocked to fledgling social media to find out just who’s that girl. To briefly explain the movie title, if you thought Angus Thongs was a character with a dodgy surname, remember the comma. Angus is the heroine’s pet cat, the thongs refer to her love rival’s underwear, and, well, there’s a whole lotta snogging going on. —Tony Hardy

    “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

    Made Awesome By: Miami Vice episode “Brother’s Keeper”

    One of my favorite transitions in film and television goes all the way back to the 1984 pilot for Miami Vice. Sonny Crockett has just discovered his friend and colleague Scottie Wheeler is an informant for one of the biggest drug cartels in the city, and he’s forced to arrest him, in front of the guy’s family, no less. The scene ends with this serene overhead shot of Wheeler being taken away in handcuffs and Crockett sulking in his convertible as another South Florida afternoon washes away. Like baby’s footsteps, mechanical drums bleed into the mix and that reverb-baked Dm guitar chord takes us to the dark streets of Miami. We float around Crockett’s Ferrari Daytona Spyder, as both he and Ricardo Tubbs make their way to the Final Confrontation.

    Phil Collins’ mournful tune grasps the pasteled tension that’s built up over the 90 minutes, ultimately peaking during a pit stop where Crockett and his estranged wife discuss their better days at a roadside phone booth. It’s a powerful scene that packs a punch to even those without the slightest context, which ultimately explains how it became an overnight game changer for television. Director Michael Mann paved the way for many more iconic scenes in today’s small screen critical darlings, but few marry sound and visuals as Collins and Mann did on “Brother’s Keeper”. It was real, wasn’t it? You bet it was. –Michael Roffman

    “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett

    Made Awesome By: Freaks and Geeks

    Freaks and Geeks has become a cult classic television show in recent years. Credit some of that to the show’s brilliant use of music throughout, notably the use of Joan Jett and the Blackheart’s “Bad Reputation” as its opening theme. The boisterous song plays as we see the main characters, sans Busy Philipps as Kim Kelly, stepping up to have their yearbook photos taken. The use of the song tells us a lot about the kids we were about to go through a year of high school with, in that most of them truly didn’t give a damn about their status. Just look at James Franco waving off the photographer’s comb to slick his greasy hair back himself or Seth Rogen’s stoic glare at the lens, and you know that these “freaks” are pretty content being themselves. —Pat Levy

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