Imagine Batman and Robin being in the same sentence as Citizen Kane… Of course, there are times when we all collectively decide that this film or song is objectively bad. It’s oddly unifying, but for the most part, it’s just a matter of opinion. Sometimes the songs from movies are better than the films themselves.
When the world of film meets the world of music, the two can help produce an all-time classic.
A terrible soundtrack can’t necessarily save a terrible film, but a great soundtrack can bolster a good film into greatness. Oftentimes we’re met with a fantastic soundtrack that outweighs the film and our senses are put into conflict.
Great song, forgettable movie, here are 9 songs far better than the movies they appeared in.
1. Another Way to Die – Jack White and Alicia Keys
From Quantum of Solace (2008)
James Bond films are synonymous with their theme tracks and so many music icons have carried the mantle. And more than one of the songs has been better than their movies. Louis Armstrong, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, and a woefully misjudged A-Ha, have all taken up the reins for the esteemed Bond song.
The second film in the most recent Daniel Craig reboot of the much-loved franchise took the disparate duo of Jack White and Alicia Keys. And managed to flounder whatever goodwill they’d set up.
“Another Way to Die” had a mixed critical reception and some believed it didn’t feel like a Bond song, but that’s exactly the point! It wasn’t just another tedious, ouch-my-ears-are-bleeding Bond song.
Unfortunately, it was tacked on to a less than stellar Bond film, which indeed was just another Bond film. Hmm, I think I can see the correlation here…
2. Flash – Queen
From Flash Gordon (1980)
Flash Gordon falls into the territory of it’s so bad that it’s good. Yet asides from the terrible acting, the main thing we all took away from the film was the theme song. Flash! Ah-ah! Saviour of the universe.
Cheesy dialogue, laughable costume design and a typical good triumphs over evil plot, Flash Gordon is so ’80s that it hurts! That doesn’t mean that the film is unwatchable by any means, but it’s certainly good for all the wrong reasons.
With stadium-rock legends Queen at the helm of the soundtrack, the film had to do a lot to fail. It’s doubtful that Flash Gordon could’ve ever matched the star quality of Queen. Though nobody could have foreseen just how much of a commercial and critical flop Flash Gordon would be.
On paper, Queen was a perfect fit for the film, and indeed they were – when you think garish sci-fi opera, who else but Queen? Sadly, they couldn’t save the film, unlike Flash who, as we all know, saved every one of us so this ends up on our list of songs better than their movies.
3. Heart of Glass – Blondie
From Anger Management (2003)
When you use Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” to open your film you better damn well hope that it lives up to such a classic song – spoiler: it didn’t!
Obviously it would be difficult to match the success of an iconic 1979 number one single, “Heart of Glass”. But Anger Management was yet another throwaway Adam Sandler film. Oh, and they dragged Jack Nicholson into it too.
Granted Adam Sandler films have a love or hate quality to them, but the lukewarm reception to Anger Management speaks for itself. The film had its moments – it certainly wasn’t quite Jack and Jill, though comparatively, “Heart of Glass” is a ’70s gem that weirdly sounds like an ’80s gem.
4. Korn – Did My Time
From Lara Croft: Tomb Raider The Cradle of Life (2003)
Another one from back in 2003 when nu-metal was still a thing, Korn’s “Did My Time” was something of a positive to come out of the Razzie winning Tomb Raider film, The Cradle of Life.
Okay, so “Did My Time” is a little of its time, but it did earn them a Grammy nomination, whereas The Cradle of Life won awards but not ones to pop champagne to.
Funnily enough, punching sharks underwater and fending off shadow monster trees don’t make for a great film. Hence the aforementioned Razzie and Golden Schmoes award for worst movie of the year.
The Cradle of Life was yet another showcase of video games rarely translating well to the silver screen. “Did My Time” was a notable success for Korn, so at least there’s that.
5. In the City – Joe Walsh of The Eagles
From The Warriors (1979)
The Warriors is a cult classic, and for the record, I really like the film, but the sensible part of my brain knows that it’s more than a tad silly.
But, it did give us a favourite of classic-rock radio stations, “In the City” by ex-Eagles guitarist, Joe Walsh.
The entire film centres on a gang-member (Luther) killing a gang-leader (Cyrus) who was trying to broker peace between all the gangs of New York City. Yet in the chaos the matching sleeveless leather jacket wearing, the Warriors are blamed.
The Warriors have to make their way back to Coney Island with all the also matching uniform wearing gangs on their tale – it’s riveting stuff.
Luther’s justification for such a central plot point: he just likes doing stuff like that. If you were looking for deep forays into character psychology then you are in the wrong place.
“In the City” was later re-recorded by the Eagles for the album The Long Run, but the song was never released as a single.
6. No Shelter – Rage Against the Machine
From Godzilla (1998)
If you ever wanted proof that a good soundtrack cannot save a terrible film, then look no further. And no, the P Diddy and Jimmy Page collaboration is not included in that. Godzilla (the Matthew Broderick one) hosted more than a few reputed musicians. Who no doubt vehemently kicked themselves after watching the film. Foo Fighters, Green Day and Rage Against the Machine? Where did they go wrong?
“No Shelter” marked a strange contribution to the film’s soundtrack. Considering that the song was an attack on the world of Hollywood and films. Stranger still, “No Shelter” seemingly attacked the very film it featured in with the line, “Godzilla, pure motherf**king filler, to keep ya eyes of the real killer”. Either the irony was lost on them or this is pure genius I’m not sure. Nevertheless, the song was certainly something to take away from an otherwise abysmal film.
Godzilla was a resounding commercial failure and any pipe dreams of a sequel were quickly abandoned. Maybe Rage Against the Machine were happy about this? Again, I’m not sure, all this irony is overwhelming.
7. Wild Wild West – Will Smith
From Wild Wild West (1999)
Though it would be difficult to produce anything quite as terrible as the film Wild Wild West. Will Smith’s song of the same the name just oozes light-hearted ’90s fun. It’s slightly cringe-worthy granted, but maybe after a few drinks, it’s enough to get to you on your feet. Not convinced? Maybe it’s a generational thing…give me that at least.
“Wild Wild West” hearkens back to a time that Will Smith would rather forget with him being a serious actor now, but we remember the real Will Smith. Silly yet fun music, Fresh Prince, and some less than great films, Smith has certainly come a long way since then.
For the ’90s kids, “Wild Wild West” still pops, though as one of those songs better than their movies. For everyone and their dogs, the film was a car crash. Will Smith is genuinely embarrassed by the film, what’s more to say? Erm… more than a few Razzie awards… ouch!
8. Living in America – James Brown
From Rocky IV (1985)
Although grossly patriotic, James Brown’s “Living in America” is a feel-good song of the highest degree. Though sensationalist and a little gaudy. I’m not even from the US and yet somehow I feel like donning a star-spangled jumpsuit when I hear this classic hit. And what could be a better fit for a dire film that has a less than inconspicuous subtext of ‘America is the greatest!’?
If you like half-baked political discourse. Or borderline Russiaphobia and endless montages then Rocky IV might just be for you. Clearly Stallone had the mounting tensions between Russia and the US in mind when he penned the screenplay for Rocky IV in 1985. But it came across has somewhat tone-deaf. The infamous line, “I can change, and you can change, everybody can change…” as he looks over a mostly Russian crowd is vomit-inducing. Somehow I don’t think a film about boxing is enough to ease years of political strife. Perhaps don’t use “Living in America” in your film if you’re trying to broker good relations between these two countries? Maybe I’m reading into this too much.
Of course, the Rocky franchise was and is extremely successful having grossed over one-billion pounds. Despite peaking at number five “Living in America” was James Brown’s biggest single in the UK. You can always trust us self-loathing Brits to celebrate a song about living somewhere else, “Living in the UK” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. In the US “Living in America” did one better and peaked at number four.
9. Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
From Dazed and Confused (1993)
Put your pitchforks down, step back and re-watch Dazed and Confused… Is it really that great? Is it maybe just nostalgia that’s making you believe that it’s great? We get it! The ’70s is over…man.
Dazed and Confused had a monumental soundtrack with Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, and Bob Dylan all making a musical appearance. But, the opening “Sweet Emotion” was a particular high of songs better than their movies. And yes, high is italicised because unless you grew up in the ’70s. Or are/were incredibly high when watching Dazed and Confused the film had very little to offer. There’s a certain boyish charm to the film, but it really hasn’t aged well at all. Case in point: Matthew McConaughey’s character, Wooderson…ugh!
Upon its release, Dazed and Confused garnered moderate commercial success though it since went on to be a household teen movie. The opposite was true for “Sweet Emotion” which was the first of a string of hits for Aerosmith before they go a bit…you know, ballady…
Teen movies always come off as somewhat cheesy especially after a re-watching them as an adult, but nostalgia is a helluva drug. The soundtrack was undeniable, but the film is a little tired… and hungry!
Hey-ho, when all is said and done, as I mentioned, art is subjective. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s true that a good song can help nudge a film into something brilliant, but what that song is still down to opinion.
And that’s our list of 9 songs better than the movies they appeared in. Are we wrong? Are there any we missed out that you would like to have seen on the list? If so, leave us a comment below.
More from our music pages HERE.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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