Wednesday, June 23, 2004
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Going medieval on AFI
The American Film Institute has cannily raised its public profile through a series of television tributes and the releases of myriad "top 100" lists. Their latest -- which suggests they're running out of ideas -- is "100 Years... 100 Songs.."
As a courtesy to readers of danieldrezner.com --- or burden, take your pick -- the following is a reprint of my interior monologue as I was perusing the list:
If you'll all excuse me, I have to go cut someone's ear off -- well, that or alert Roger L. Simon to the crimes committed on this list.
While I'm away, readers are hereby invited to submit other glaring omissions (or glaring inclusions) from AFI's list.posted by Dan on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM
Reminds me of when the Simpsons were menaced by the zombies of Frank and Jesse James, Billy the Kid, the Sundance Kid, and Kaiser Wilhelm:
Marge: These are horrible ghouls from the past!
"Hip Priest" by The Fall from the Jamie Gumm scene in Silence of the Lambs.
"Rock n Roll High School" by the Ramones from the eponymous movie
hell, that Yes song in Buffalo 66 is pretty awesome if you can dig through 2 hours of vincent gallo.
and surely "wake up" by Rage Against the Machine in The Matrix should be in the top ten--when i saw this movie in the theater people actually cheered this song when it started.
I guess "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" doesn't qualify because it's British...posted by: Independent George on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Being a big Bob Seger fan, I would list "Understanding" from Teachers or "Chances Are," a duet with Martina McBride, from Hope Floats. I would also list "Tiny Dancer" from Almost Famous.posted by: Zwicker on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Wait a minute... "Rainbow Connection", but not "It's Not Easy Being Green"? A travesty! When you think Muppets, what's the first song that comes into your head (besides Animal's "Wild Thing", that is).posted by: Independent George on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
I just want to point out that anyone willing to pay the AFI's $60 annual dues can vote in these farces...posted by: flaime on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
If songs without lyrics ("Ride of the Valkryes", frex) had been allowed, "The Godfather" main theme and the Imperial March from "Empire Strikes Back" both belong in the top 10, and "Axel F" belongs somewhere on the topside of the list. It looks like they are requiring lyrics, though.
I'd never consent to a list that contained "9 to 5", especially without "Back in Time" (Back to the Future), "Comedy Tonight" (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum),
And "Live and Let Die", attrocious grammar aside, was a better song than any of the bond themes that made the list.posted by: Jeff R. on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
The ear-cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs ruined that song for me. Kind of like whatever that song is that the transsexual serial killer is dancing to in Silence of the Lambs.posted by: Dimmy Karras on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
I'm surprised more recent Disney animation isn't represented. I mean, just Hakuna Matata, and way down at #99? What about "A Whole New World", "Friend Like Me" (Aladdin), "Under the Sea" (Little Mermaid), "You've Got a Friend in Me" (Toy Story), or one that I hate, but you'd think would make a list like this, "Colors of the Wind" (Pocahontas).posted by: Josh Heit on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Just caught Beauty and the Beast on the list...original point still stands.posted by: Josh on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Wrong list, folks. I think you're looking for "30 years - 300 songs".posted by: wishIwuz2 on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
West Side Story hardly makes sense without "Maria."
I also think "Something Good" was deeply moving in "The Naked Gun."posted by: Zathras on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Lou Reed in Trainspotting
The Blues Brothers
IMHO, the song ought to have something to do with the plot in some way or significantly underscore the action, not just be for soundtract sales/Oscar nominations. That rules out many of the Bond themes.
I think the reason the list seems "wrong" is that it only includes *original* songs. Songs specifically created for that movie.
That being said...
"Danger Zone" and "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun.
"Lunatic Fringe" from "Vision Quest".
"Living in America" by James Brown and "Eye of the Tiger" by Survior..from the Rocky movies.posted by: Jim on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Jim: the list is not restricted to *original* songs. Song #94 is "Ain't To Proud to Beg" from The Big Chill. That version of the song (by the Temptations) was originally released back in 1966 -- 17 years before the movie debuted.posted by: Dan Drezner on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Not to pick nits, Jim, but "Puttin' on the Ritz" wasn't created for either of the movies it was featured in last night, and "Singing in the Rain" was written years before the Gene Kelly movie was thought of. "I Got Rythym" wasn't written for "An American in Paris" . . . but you get the point.posted by: John on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Biggest omission: Nothing from the "Superfly" soundtrack, esp. "Supefly", "Freddy's Dead", or "Pusherman"posted by: Hank on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Did anyone look at the list of 400 nominated songs? I've skimmed it, and it looks like many of the suggestions in this comment thread didn't even make the list of nominations. But it did include "Bohemian Rhapsody" from Wayne's World, which should have made the final list.posted by: Xavier on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
I suppose they couldn't sit through the 10 or so minutes of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood and watch Kill Bill either to at least include it as perhaps the best duel music released in the past oh, how many years.posted by: OF Jay on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Moreover, Diane Keaton sang "It Had To Be You" in "Annie Hall," the film from which much of "When Harry..." is borrowed.posted by: Karl on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
OUT HERE IN HOLLYWOOD AFI LISTS ARE SEEN AS CRASS FUND RAISING VEHICLES, SOPS TO THE GREAT MASSES OF RUBES WHO LIVE BETWEEN HOBOKEN AND VERMONT AVENUE. THESE LISTS ARE NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY.
THAT SAID, MUSIC FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF BLAXPLOITATION, EXCEPT FOR SHAFT, IS MISSING ENTIRELY. NOTHING FROM SUPERFLY? WHERE'S BOBBY WOMACK'S ACCROSS 110TH STREET?
IT'S A PLOT BY THE MAN!
AND ANOTHER EXAMPLE WHY MANY IN HOLLYWOOD HAVE STOPPED TAKING THE AFI SERIOUSLY.
WHILE GOOD IN THE SHORT TERM FOR FUND RAISING, IN THE LONG RUN AFI RISKS ALIENATING YOUNGER FILMMAKERS BY PUTTING OUT SUCH BLANATLY PANDERING LISTS (CELINE DION AT 14? NOTHING FROM THE THREE MARX BROS MGM MOVIES? DISSING CURTIS MAYFIELD?). SOMEONE'S GONNA HAVE TO TAKE OVER WHEN SCORSESE IS DROOLING AT THE CALABASAS RETIREMENT HOME.
SO AN UNCOOL AFI COULD MEAN A DESICATED AFI AS YOUNGER FILMMAKERS AND PRODUCERS DIRECT THEIR ENGERIES INTO NUTURING NEWER, COOLER AND MORE RELEVANT FILM SOCIETIES.
PERSONAL PEEVE: DAVID BOWIE/PAT METHANY'S "THIS IS NOT AMERICA" FROM THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN SHOULD BE IN THE LIST AS WELL.posted by: MLH on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
It seems that some of the complaints about missing items basically relate to how great the song is as opposed to how it fit into the movie and resulting culture/sociology of the time. "Secret Garden" from Jerry Maguire? Come on, who even remembers it was in there, the movie owes little to it and it owes little to the movie. And the soundtrack of What's Love Got to Do With It, well of course it has great songs, but do they really make you forget ... you know, Tina Turner? Nah ...
But still, some fine points. Missing Superfly? Shout from Animal House? Gimme a break.
How about Time Warp from Rocky Horror? For that matter, how 'bout Back in the Saddle Again, which features cultural icon Gene Autry? In a classic Gene vehicle?
General conclusion is dead on, it's lame as hell.posted by: Bill Skeels on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Others have beaten me to the punch with respect to "It Had to Be You" appearing in Annie Hall before When Harry Met Sally and the inexplicable omission of "Superfly". But my specific beef is that while Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" earned a spot in the Top 100, Neil Young's "Philadelphia" didn't even get nominated. I've seen the film twice, and I know which song hit me harder each time....
While I'm kvetching, where's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid?posted by: Jeremy B. on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Note that the selection criteria restrict the candidates to American Films only. "The film must be in the English language with significant creative and/or financial production elements from the United States. "
That leaves out a large number of deserving songs (many mentioned above), but if that's their criteria, that's their criteria.
But if they're doing American Songs in American Films, how can the pass over "O Brother Where Art Thou"? That's a huge omission.posted by: uh_clem on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
"Unchained Melody" from Ghost? I don't remember that having lyrics, and its title certainly *suggests* that it doesn't have lyrics. It shouldn't be there, either way.
"Ghostbusters," on the other hand, certainly should be. It's not Great Music. But it was a great movie song. I suppose that "Don't You (Forget About Me)" [Breakfast Club] and "I'm Gonna Be" [Benny and Joon] don't quite feel like Best of the Century things, but I'd certainly defend them against "I Will Always Love You," "My Heart Will Go On," "Wind Beneath My Wings." I'd even defend either against "Flashdance," which is comparable in kind.
In general, I wonder how the "lyrics" thing got figured. I'm pretty sure that the lyrics to "Suicide is Painless" weren't sung at any point during M*A*S*H, but as long as they were out there somewhere to be had, it counts? John Williams ought to start scribbling down never-to-be-performed nonsense lyrics to his scores...posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
"Suicide is Painless" plays, with lyrics, over the opening credits of M*A*S*H (the movie. The lyrics were, of course, taken out of the TV version of the credits.)
Someting that we are forgetting for a lot of our pseudo-nominations, though, is the "100 years" bit: nothing made after 1996 should be eligible for any of these lists. At least that was the rule for the first couple of lists. So Chicago, Moulin Rouge, and 8 Mile should be taken off, immediately. Now, for Songs, you could certainly make a case for starting with the first non-silent picture, but that makes a 100-year list extremely premature.posted by: Jeff R. on 06.23.04 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
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