There used to be a time when you could not turn on the radio and not hear a song from a popular movie. But, when was the last time you remember that happening? It may have been after we were inundated with 1997’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Do you remember that one from Titanic? If you don’t, you must not have been alive at the time because that song was played over and over and over on the radio. And over again!
Frankly, I got sick of that one, but I must admit there have been movie songs that I loved. “Evergreen” from A Star Is Born is still one of my favorites. In fact, if I remember correctly, that song was a much bigger hit than the movie. And who can forget (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. Every time I hear that song on the radio, I picture myself dirty dancing with Patrick Swayze.
Then there are the movie songs I disliked, mostly from their constant radio play. “Arthur’s Theme” – blech. And those that were alive in the 70s can’t forget “You Light Up My Life.” Talk about an overplayed song. That song was on the radio so much, I had dreams about it. And it while it was wildly successful, it seemed to almost single handedly kill Debbie Boone’s career. I mean, who wanted to hear anything from her after hearing that song so much?
The 70s, 80s, and 90s were a great time for movie songs to be big radio hits. But since then, the whole movie song phenomenon seems to have died down. Sure, many people have heard the 2002 Academy Award winning song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem from the movie 8 Mile, but you really didn’t hear it that much on the airwaves. 2005 saw “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” win Best Song. Now I like the song, but again, it isn’t played on the radio very much.
So why aren’t there any movie hits now? Some people, such as songwriter Jesse Harris, think that the filmmakers just don’t seek out original songs anymore. One of the problems may be that some filmmakers are starting to choose pre-existing songs to set the mood for the movie, rather than having a catchy original. This may make the overall soundtrack more popular, but leaves us without that one song that reminds us of the film every time we hear it.
Some people think that many original movie songs, such as Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” used in the movie Armageddon, was so catchy, it would have been a hit without the movie. But, if you want to have a song relate to a movie, it pretty much needs to be an original. I mean, how many movies have you heard that had the hit “Walking on Sunshine” in it? Although sometimes covered by different artists, I know of at least five films it has been featured in – American Psycho, Look Who’s Talking, The Secret of My Success, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Road Trip. So when I hear the song on the radio, what movie am I supposed to think about? For the record, I think of The Secret of My Success. It must just be a Michael J. Fox thing.
Others blame the lack of movie hits on the fact that radio is so diversified now. With so many music genres – rap, pop, hot, urban, R&R, country, etc. – it is hard to find just the right song.
I don’t know, maybe the era of movie hits really is dead. But sometimes, when you least expect it…