What makes a song that's "written for" or "inspired by" a film a real stinker? Sometimes it's the fault of the vomit-inducing movie itself, where artists thought they were getting in on a hot ticket. But often, bands who were asked to contribute to a soundtrack were just handing off leftover crap from a less than fruitful session when the blow ran out way too soon.
Here are 10 soundtrack songs that likely left the responsible artists seething once they had the full cinematic experience. (For the most part, we left songs off this list that were actually hit singles; as much as we wish that Hammer had never subjected us to "Addams Groove," we're sure he'd release it all over again if he could. Same deal with "Men in Black," "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," "Who's Johnny" and countless others.)
10. AC/DC - "Big Gun" (from "Last Action Hero")
This one makes the bottom of our list 'cuz it ain't that bad ... still, the Brothers Young & Co. must've thought they were in for a massive chart-topper in 1993. "Last Action Hero" was a heavily hyped flick, Arnold Schwarzenegger's first big role since "T2," and he agreed to appear in the "Big Gun" video. Sadly, a classic of "You Could Be Mine" proportions wasn't in the cards. AC/DC weren't even trying to make a halfway decent double entendre (why not just call the tune "Large Cock" and be done with it?), and watching Arnie fake-shred while wearing an Angus-esque schoolboy outfit was akin to seeing your dad try his hand at "Rock Band." To top it all off, the movie sucked ass.
9. Prince - "Batdance" (from "Batman," duh)
Hard to believe this track was a No. 1 hit for Prince and was all over the radio back in 1989. But how often do you think the Purple One dusts this one off in concert? And if you think he always looks grumpy these days, how would you like it if people had been screaming "Get the funk out!" or "Ooh, we got a live one here!" in your general direction for the last 20 years?
8. Steve Martin - "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" (from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band")
The year: 1978. Everyone thinks a theatrical rock opera based on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album is an awesome idea, including rising star Steve Martin, who signs on to play murdering goofball Dr. Maxwell Edison. After all, with hot acts like Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees in the lead roles, what could go wrong? So very many things, it turned out. For starters, Martin's character had to sing what is widely considered one of the Beatles' worst songs. A McCartney composition, it was even described by George Harrison as "kinda fruity" in 1979. (This coming from the guy who wrote "Blow Away," no less.) In the clip below, Martin manages to embarrass himself worse than he did in two "Cheaper by the Dozen" disasters.
7. Run-DMC - "Ghostbusters Rap" (from "Ghostbusters II")
Fearing another lawsuit of Huey Lewis proportions (the News-man famously sued Ray Parker, Jr. and Columbia Pictures over the copycat "Ghostbusters" theme, which sounded just like "I Want a New Drug"), the makers of "Ghostbusters II" went in a different direction in 1989 and enlisted Run-DMC, who were coming off their hit Tougher Than Leather album. But the movie was a drag, the rhymes were hokey, and hip-hop 'bustin' did not make us feel good. To add insult to injury, Bobby Brown actually nabbed a hit from the soundtrack with this just-as-irritating "On Our Own."
Click on the link below for terrible soundtrack tunes ... and their unfortunate videos.
6. Smashing Pumpkins - "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" (from "Batman & Robin")
Despite forgettable tunes from Seal and U2, "Batman Forever" was a surprise smash soundtrack in 1995; two years later, Smashing Pumpkins saw the dollar signs and happily on board the Joel Schumacher train, recording "End Is the Beginning" for the George Clooney-starring "Batman & Robin." While it's not a terrible song (it even won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance), its association with the worst Batman film of all time has sullied its legacy, and led to the beginning of the end of the band's popularity.
"End Is the Beginning" received a bit if a credibility boost earlier this year when it was used in trailers for "Watchmen," but that was more of a wink and nod to comic geeks than a testament to its staying power.
5. Rod Stewart - "Love Touch" (from "Legal Eagles")
Rod the Mod had made his transition from raspy-voiced rocker to trite pop star nearly a decade before this slice of crap pie hit the radio waves and theater screens in 1986. Venues showing "Legal Eagles" were rumored to have offered barf bags under the seats for when that godawful steel drum kicks in. The song's schmaltzy ick factor would go on to inspire Stewart to wear a tux permanently and record an endless array of standards albums.
4. LL Cool J - "Deepest Bluest" (from "Deep Blue Sea")
When LL signed on to co-star in 1999's "Deep Blue Sea," he must've just come off a weeklong "Shark Week" marathon, adding a clause to his contract that allowed him to record a song from the perspective of a shark. How else to explain the producers' agreement to include a banging track with such rhymes as "Manmade terror / Hungry jaws of death / Y'all don't cross my depths / I'll pause your breaths"? I won't even make an effort to make sense of the endlessly repeated "My hat is like a shark's fin." Jaws said knock you out, LL.
3. Brian Wilson - "Let's Go to Heaven in My Car" (from "Police Academy 4")
Imagine an 8-year-old autistic kid getting his hands on a Casio, and you'll have an idea what this solo offering from the former Beach Boys mastermind sounds like. By 1987, Brian Wilson was no longer affiliating himself with the group, and was still under the control of his Svengali-like therapist, Eugene Landy. Landy must've been the one who convinced Wilson to kick off his solo career by contributing this rotten egg of a track to the soundtrack of "Police Academy 4," a.k.a. "Citizens on Patrol," a.k.a. "Good lord, Steve Guttenberg's still here." It really stung when his old band went all the way to No. 1 without him for contributing "Kokomo" to the "Cocktail" soundtrack...a movie only marginally better than "Police Academy 4."
2. Cheap Trick - "Up the Creek" (from "Up the Creek")
Has there ever been a band that's sustained such a long career by recording so much questionable material? (And this is coming from a big fan.) The nadir of Cheap Trick's output - yes, even worse than "High Priest of Rhythmic Noise" - is this long-forgotten theme to a forgettable 1984 "Animal House" pseudo-reunion (Otter and Flounder played really old, and kinda creepy, college students). The song is so bad, Cheap Trick has so far refused to include it on any of their many compilation albums. The reason for that is simple, according to drummer Bun E. Carlos: "Because it sucks."
And the most regrettable soundtrack contribution of all time goes to...
1. Kenny Loggins - Mother of God, too many to list.
The man may have recorded three cheesy-but-beloved '80s soundtrack classics - "I'm Alright" from "Caddyshack," "Footloose" from some Kevin Bacon movie, and "Danger Zone" from "Top Gun" - but he should've known to quit when he was ahead. Below, our four-clip tribute to Kenny Loggins, his beard and his steadfast devotion to record any ol' piece-of-shit song for any ol' piece-of-shit movie that comes along.
"Mr. Night" (from "Caddyshack")
This must've been an pot brownie-powered after-hours jam that somehow morphed its way into a recorded track. It's fitting that its use in the film was in such close proximity to the turd in the pool.
"I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" (from "Footloose")
Also known as "that
song from 'Footloose' ... the one where Kenny Loggins tries to be a Springsteen meets 'Beat It' badass in the video."
"Playing With the Boys" (from "Top Gun")
Not nearly as cool as the track that went along with jets doing wicked aerial maneuvers, this selection was instead used with one of the greatest homoerotic scenes of all time. At least Anthony Edwards kept his shirt on. You da man, Goose!
"Meet Me Halfway" (from "Over the Top")
The ultimate power ballad for "single-father truckers who moonlight as championship arm wrestlers" movies.
"Nobody's Fool" (from "Caddyshack II")
Last and sweet Jesus certainly least is Loggins' quick cash grab from what's widely considered the worst sequel ever made. Only Chevy Chase and Loggins reprised their roles in 1988, and Loggins' theme is mom rock at its absolute worst. Kudos for the slick new hairstyle, though.