Thursday, 31 May 2018

My Top Ten Film Clip Songs

Ten top songs featuring clips stolen from famous movies...

10. Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Selfish

Opens with a very brief quote from one of my favourite movies: Die Hard.

"Why don't you wake up and smell what you're shovelling?"

9. George Michael - Too Funky

"Would you like me to seduce you?"

Yes, please, Mrs. Robinson.

From The Graduate... in case you were born this century.

8. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love

"It's in the trees - it's coming!"

The clip that opens Kate's 1985 hit is pretty obscure... from a séance scene in the 1957 British horror movie Night of the Demon. Great song though.

7. Queen - Flash

Probably the most famous example of using movie clips in a hit song... but if you strip them out, there's little else in Flash beyond John Deacon's bassline, Brian's typically OTT guitar solo... and, of course, Freddie belting out the chorus like he's strapped to a rocket hurtling into the sun. But it's the quotes that make this track... not least, Brian Blessed giving uncharacteristic understatement to the most famous line of his career: "GORDON'S ALIVE!"

6. Fun Lovin' Criminals - Scooby Snacks

If you're gonna sample movie dialogue, then at least steal from the best... in this case, Quentin Tarantino. Huey & co.'s breakthrough hit sampled numerous clips from two Tarantino classics: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. The fact that both the movie dialogue - and Huey's lyrics - contained a variety of very bad language somehow wasn't a barrier to airplay... though the edited version did leave very little to the imagination.

5.  Prince - Batdance
Oh, I gotta live one here...

Less a song, more a cobbling together of various tracks from the Batman soundtrack, this always divides both Prince and Batman fans (especially the latter who were expecting Tim Burton's 1989 movie to use Neil Hefti's famous 60s Batman theme tune). Being that I was a huge fan of both back in the day, I devoured Batdance on first hearing: bought the single, the album, the T-shirt... even went to the 6th Form fancy dress disco as the Joker with full face paint (not a good idea - my teenage acne went wild).

Listening back to it now, this track sounds utterly, utterly mental. Only Prince could have got away with it and made such a crazy concoction work in the way it does. The video is insane as well, featuring the kind of language and behaviour that again ONLY PRINCE WOULD GET AWAY WITH. There's even a bit where he appears to repeatedly shout "Get the fuck out!" but I'm reliably informed he says "funk", so that's OK. Incredibly, he took this infernal mishmash to #2 in the UK singles chart - and #1 in the States.

Partyman, from same album, is a much better song (though the video omits the Jack Nicholson quote that opened the original) but it wasn't anywhere near as big a hit.

4. Big Audio Dynamite - E = mc2

The most famous BAD song features their most famous use of movie sampling - with a variety of quotes taken from Nic Roeg's movie Performance starring James Fox and Mick Jagger. Like many people, I used to believe the samples were Michael Caine dialogue... which made more sense of Einstein's equation, if you think about it.

This wasn't the only time BAD using movie sampling though - their entire debut album was peppered with film quotes, including The Good, The Bad & The Ugly; A Fistful of Dollars; and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

3. Guns n Roses - Civil War

I'm prepared to argue that Civil War is GnR's finest moment, and the opening speech, delivered by Strother Martin from the Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke, cements that for me.

What we've got here is failure to communicate.
Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it.
Well, he gets it.
I don't like it any more than you men.

Then again, I used to think that that Axl's closing question, "What's so civil about war, anyway?" was evidence of what a deep thinker he really is... so what do I know? Or Bono or Sting delivered that line, I'd be pissing myself...

2. Chumbawamba - Tubthumpin'

The album version of Chumbawamba's biggest / only hit begins with a rousing clip from the movie Brassed Off, featuring the late, great Pete Postlethwaite giving it everything he's got.

The truth is, I thought it mattered. I thought that MUSIC mattered.
But does it bollocks! Not compared to how PEOPLE matter.

Sadly, the record company edited that off the single version and went straight into the whiskey drinks and lager drinks, making the song sound like an anthem for pissheads, which went down very nicely in the late 90s... but wasn't the band's intention at all.

1. Primal Scream - Loaded

With Loaded, producer Andrew Weatherall took an early (typically Stonesy) Primal Scream single (I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have) and remixed it to the point where it was virtually unrecognisable from the original, using this clip from the Peter Fonda movie The Wild Angels as the hook...
Just what is it that you want to do?
We wanna be free - we wanna be free to do what we wanna do
And we wanna get loaded
And we wanna have a good time

Normally, this is the sort of thing that gets my back up, not being the biggest fan of either dance music or remixes. Credit where it's due though, Weatherall created a far more interesting record... one that virtually defined an era. More about that here, if you're interested.

Primal Scream & Andrew Weatherall pulled the same trick a few years later with Kowalski, sampling the movie Vanishing Point. Another great example of this sort of thing done right.

This post took longer than expected, but I'm pretty positive I missed out some other famous tracks featuring dialogue culled from movies. If you can think of any, do let me know in the comments.



  1. Also, Damaged on Screamadelica (again) finishes with a snippet from Paris, Texas 'Yep, I know that feeling'

    1. I suspect this sort of thing is quite common in dance music: you have probably come across a lot more than I have.

  2. This might be your most inspired idea. Deserves at least one sequel. I’ll put in a vote for Last Time Forever from Squeeze which uses Jack Nicholson in the Shining saying “a momentary loss of muscular coordination.” This might surprise you, but Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti is my favorite Squeeze album.

    1. Thanks, Brian. I thought it'd be a lot easier than it was, to be honest. I'll need a lot more help to compile a second volume!

  3. Carter USMs cover of Panic opens with the line "Death by Stereo" from The Lost Boys

    1. I can't recall Carter doing Panic. I'll have to check my collection tomorrow to see if it's hidden away on the hard drive somewhere.

  4. This post got me thinking and I finally remembered - it's very obscure but a band called Golden Palominos had the Dennis Hopper line - "a little older, a little more confused" on one of their albums. The line comes from the Wim Wenders film "The American Friend"

    Golden Palominos featured changing line-ups by musicians such as Sid Straw, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, and T-Bone Burnett, Richard Thompson Michael Stipe, Lowell George, John Lydon and Jack Bruce.

    You can find out more in this nifty little article..................(it states that the Hopper film quote came from "Blast Of Silence", but I'm sure it was on one called "Visions Of Excess" at the start of a song called "Boy (Go)" which had Michael Stipe on vocal).

    1. Thanks, Lynchie. I will investigate that further.

  5. This particularly enjoyable top ten has really got me thinking. There are a couple of suggestions on the tip of my tongue, but I can't bring them to mind. As you say, there must be a further half a dozen examples on the first BAD LP for a start.

    1. When I started putting this together, I was certain there would be loads more. But then I ran dry after the obvious ones. I can think of some dance examples - the PF Project did a track based around Ewan McGregor's Trainspotting monologue, for example - but I'm sure there must be loads more.


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