Poptastic Day: Chess, “One Night In Bangkok”

Chess

A few weeks ago I posted a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”. Listening to the original “Let’s Dance” put me in mind of another song from around the same time. If you remember “One Night In Bangkok” from the glitzy and gauche mid-80s, then you’re showing your age. I remember it. I loved it then and I love it now.

Written by Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson (yes, both from ABBA), and Tim Rice (of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita fame), “One Night In Bangkok” was a hands down global hit, reaching the Top 5 in a number of countries, #1 on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, #12 on the U.K. Singles Chart, and #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. This is special considering it was a track from the concept album for an upcoming musical.

Never heard it before? Have a listen. Remember it? Get reacquainted. Beware, the opening lasts until 1:47 before Murray Head bursts into the song proper. (Cut it some slack. It’s from a musical.)

Murray Head – One Night In Bangkok (Single Version)

“Siam’s gonna be the witness to the ultimate test of cerebral fitness.”

Yeah, baby!

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Poptastic Day: “Singin’ In The Rain” (Not the horrible nonsense version)

I have to make this relatively quick today, so it’s a good thing that this travesty pretty much speaks for itself. From the BBC:

A remix of Singin’ in the Rain that was used by Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson has shot to number one in the UK singles chart. The song, best known as the title track in Gene Kelly’s 1952 film, was reworked by Manchester dance act Mint Royale.

Oh. Dear. God.

No, I will not give them anymore attention by posting that nonsense here. Is this a sign that Poptasticism is going over to the dark side? I’m sure you can find the Mint Royale version if you want to offend your ears badly enough. But come back here when you’re done and listen to the original. You’ll need it to cleanse your soul.

   Gene Kelly – Singin’ In The Rain

Those Zany Charts …

Over The Rainbow

I was actually looking for the songs that are most frequently used in movies, but so far I haven’t come across an accurate list yet. I always wonder who picks the songs for some of these movies, because if “Respect” comes on during another female empowerment scene, in yet another chick flick, I swear I’m gonna switch genders. I might come back to the most overused songs later, but it needs some digging around. Instead, let’s have a look at the songs that topped the American Film Institute’s list of best songs featured in movies.

1. “Over the Rainbow”, The Wizard of Oz (1939)
2. “As Time Goes by”, Casablanca (1942)
3. “Singin’ in the Rain”, Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
4. “Moon River”, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
5. “White Christmas”, Holiday Inn (1942)
6. “Mrs. Robinson”, The Graduate (1967)
7. “When You Wish Upon a Star”, Pinocchio(1940)
8. “The Way We Were”, The Way We Were (1973)
9. “Stayin’ Alive”, Saturday Night Fever (1977)
10. “The Sound of Music”, The Sound Of Music (1965)

Mmm, dusty. The majority of songs on the AFI’s list of a hundred are from long before Tom Hanks was known as more than just ‘the curly haired one from Bosom Buddies’. It seems, the more we get to the top of the chart the older the tunes get, but I guess it has to have the weight of many years of success and reverence by the general public to truly earn the title of classic, at least according to the AFI. Most of these songs set a mood of sad reflection or hope for the future. So if you want to write a hit movie song be sure it will sound good over a close up of a pondering Barbara Streisand, a jubilant Julie Andrews, or a sullen Humphrey Bogart.

Here are two bands that proof that a truly great songs will always be celebrated:

   Happy Mondays – Stayin’ Alive
   The Flaming Lips – Over The Rainbow

Soundtrack Day: It’s Great To Stay Up Late!

Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, & Donal O'Connor

I’ve been watching a lot of old movies this week and my favorites are always 50s musicals, especially ones that star Gene Kelly. He is most definitely the greatest of those classic movie stars. He’s classy, smooth, and ever so dreamy. Plus, he’s from Pittsburgh, my old hometown, and that makes him even cooler, obviously.

Singin’ In The Rain has my very favorite old musical song, “Good Morning”. Remember how Ally McBeal had a theme song to get herself in the right frame of mind? I use “Good Morning” in a similar way. You know those mornings where you wake up and actually consider breaking your own arm just so you could get out of whatever you have to do that day? It might be that class you hate, or some appointment you can’t put off any longer but you just know will be torture, or maybe just the thought of yet another day at the damn office. On those kind of days, I stick on “Good Morning” and let it force me into a good mood. I’ve done it for years and it never fails. It’s so cheerful, kind of like Care Bears on ecstasy, how could you possibly stay grumpy?

   Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor – Good Morning