The Grammys are just a week away, and I feel that justifies an exploration of one of my favorite topics: wonderful music from god-awful movies. Here are my 10 favorite tunes specifically produced for the soundtracks of wretched movies.
10. Michelle Pfeiffer, “Cool Rider” from Grease 2
Grease 2 is a confounding mess from start to finish, but it’s a complete blast if you’re into campy singalong experiences. The movie’s best tune is undoubtedly the brassy, kicky “Cool Rider” where The Greatest Catwoman croons like Benatar over a rip-roaring pop hook. It’s damn replayable, which is something not often said about Grease 2.
9. Alanis Morissette, “Uninvited” from City of Angels
City of Angels is one of those infuriating movies that dares to take its ridiculous melodrama seriously. It’s a feature-length Creed video. Thankfully its soundtrack was a rightful blockbuster featuring original tracks by U2 and — perhaps most famously — the Goo Goo Dolls, who took over the world with their breakout hit “Iris.” For me, the sentiment of “Iris” is slightly too schlocky for inclusion here, but Alanis Morissette‘s wailing, Grammy-winning “Uninvited” is perfect: a booming, atmospheric opus with intriguing lyrics and cinematic grandeur. It was the perfect segue between the caustic, catharsis-needy Alanis of Jagged Little Pill and the contemplative, Far Eastern-tinged Alanis of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.
8. Madonna, “Causing a Commotion” from Who’s That Girl?
Madonna has had multiple great songs in terrible movies — “Beautiful Stranger” in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (HATE those movies), “Crazy for You” in Vision Quest, and the watery, wonderful “I’ll Remember” from the so-so film With Honors. But no movie was worse than Who’s That Girl?, which featured four great Madonna tracks including the zesty, effervescent “Causing a Commotion.” Among Madonna fans it’s generally hailed as the obscurest of her masterpiece singles, and it contains the definitive Madonna lyric: “Quit wasting time / Make up your mind / And get into the groove.”
7. Eric Clapton, “Tears in Heaven” from Rush
“Tears in Heaven” is a heavy, droopy ballad, but it’s a killer. Clapton’s painful elegy finds the guitar legend grappling with the death of his son Conor, and its lyrics and music make for an unbearably moving experience — as opposed to the movie Rush, which is just unbearable. The song would become the signature tune from Clapton’s MTV Unplugged disc, which would go on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.
6. Janet Jackson, “Doesn’t Really Matter” from The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps
Frankly, pop music rarely gets better than this: Janet Jackson‘s sprightly, blippy “Doesn’t Really Matter” is the only lovable thing related to The Nutty Professor 2. Jackson’s Watley-lite vocal is perfect for the trippy little gem, and it was the perfect antidote to the self-imposed heaviness of the Velvet Rope album.