A few years ago, I put together a list of the cheesiest soundtrack singles of all time. The list was more fun to put together than I let on, mostly because in my mid-20s I was dedicated to kind of reflexively hating things without actually examining them. (I’m amazed Pitchfork never tried to hire me.) The truth is that I’ve got a soft spot for songs cut just for movies, in part because they remind me of the films of my childhood and in part because they don’t happen that much anymore. Movie marketing today is geared more toward in-theater upsells (3-D, IMAX, etc.) or home-video consumption (Blu-rays with free digital downloads). But for a few years, one of the best ways to raise your movie’s profile was to attach a corny ballad. It’s in the spirit of big-shouldered, hairsprayed nostalgia that I present a modest follow-up of more of the cheesiest soundtrack singles of all time. You’re welcome.
“It Must Have Been Love,” Roxette (Pretty Woman)
I was a weird kid. I remember borrowing this soundtrack from a friend’s parents in middle school. Put away that Metallica disc, man; I’m spinning some Go West. (I did not get a lot of girls.)
“Blaze of Glory (Theme From Young Guns II),” Bon Jovi (Young Guns II)
Bon Jovi’s faux-cowboy vibe was the perfect match for the slick 1980s Hollywood version of the Wild West. The song is basically a sequel to “Wanted Dead or Alive,” in the best way possible.
“I’ll Remember,” Madonna (With Honors)
This is a great example of early 1990s adult pop. Bonus: the music video is of the classic “Just show the singer watching clips from the movie” school.
“Let the River Run,” Carly Simon (Working Girl)
Working Girl is representative of so much of 1980s Hollywood: sexual hijinks, a Wall Street setting, general themes of empowerment. It’s the gender-reversed version of The Secret of My Success, in a way. Carly Simon’s upbeat ballad is the perfect fit.
“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (Dirty Dancing)
You know you know all the words.
“Glory of Love,” Peter Cetera (The Karate Kid, Part II)
This song also appeared on Cetera’s Solitude/Solitaire, which was released three days after the movie opened. The movie’s not as good as the first one, but the song’s legit.
“Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now),” Phil Collins (Against All Odds)
I’d put money down that most people have forgotten the 1984 film Against All Odds, or that Phil Collins’ ultimate break-up song was originally written for the movie. Interestingly, the soundtrack also featured Peter Gabriel, a reminder that you couldn’t do anything in the ’80s without bumping into someone from Genesis.
“Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” Christopher Cross (Arthur)
A prime example of the lighter-than-air 1980s pop, courtesy of the strangely compelling tenor of the very ordinary-looking Christopher Cross.
“I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly (Space Jam)
In the mid-1990s, you could make a movie about Michael Jordan and Bill Murray playing basketball with cartoons and offer the prime soundtrack slot to an unstable nut job who would later get caught peeing on ladies. It was a boom economy, kids.
“Vindicated,” Dashboard Confessional (Spider-Man 2)
Dashboard Confessional was popular with a lot of my peers when I was in college. I never got into them, mostly because I was too busy wondering why my goatee-and-muttonchops combination wasn’t working for me. Trivia: you can make your own Dashboard song by switching around the words “sidewalk,” “moonlight,” “contempt,” and “prom.”