At the Movies

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Mar 082010
 

The Academy Awards were last night. The competition was fierce, the dresses were stunning, the upsets were upsetting, the…alright, I admit, I tuned out after fifteen minutes. What I do know is that for the first time the Oscars removed the live musical performances from the show, killing the one enjoyable part about the whole thing. So instead we’ll bask in nostalgia with covers of ten classic movie themes.


Steve Tyrell w/ Dr. John – You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Randy Newman)
Randy Newman’s been nominated for an Oscar 19 times. That’s three more than Meryl Streep, who holds the acting record. The Academy always seems to figure they can give it to Randy next year though, since he’s only won once. Last night he lost. Again. Twice. Though it didn’t win in its day either, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story is surely Randy’s most enduring movie song, and the only one he ever touches in concert. [Buy]

Phish – Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Phish has done this one many times, its epic scope making it a good vehicle for extended jamming. This nine-minute version comes from Brooklyn’s Keyspan Park in 2004. Maybe someone who knows more about Phish than I do can tell us how it stacks up compared with other performances. [Buy]

Surf Champlers – “James Bond” Theme (Monty Norman)
Surf Champlers is a project by Kenji Yano, a Japanese musician who combines the traditional katcharsee style of music from his home of Okanawa with modern styles. Like surf. [Buy]

Kuricorder – The Imperial March (Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back)
This song make you wonder why they didn’t do the whole Star Wars soundtrack with a ukulele, tuba and recorder. Off the Ukulele Star Wars Aloha Force album, a comp I’m glad exists. [Buy]

Tito Rodriguez – Theme from “The Apartment” (Charles Williams)
Puerto Rican singer and bandleader Tito Rodriguez gives the theme from this 1960 Billy Wilder flick. Fun fact: Rodriguez has got to be the only non-rapping musician whose Wikipedia page includes a section titled “Feuds.” [Buy]

The Smithereens – Batman Theme (Neil Hefty)
I caught the Smithereens last week, but sadly it was a Who tribute show so no Batman (or Tommy, which is strange, since they dedicated their most recent album to Tommy covers). This Batman comes packing: with drum solo. [Buy]

Tenacious D – Flash’s Theme (Queen)
Posted this one back in our tribute to Queen, but the link’s down so no harm in another go. I still can’t believe they allowed such an absurdly theatrical song to soundtrack an action movie. The video’s even better. [Buy]

Van McCoy – Theme from “Shaft”/Lara’s Theme (Isaac Hayes/Maurice Jarre)
From 1962 through his death in ’79, Van McCoy penned hits for the Shirelles (“Stop the Music”), Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Giving Up”) and himself (“The Hustle”). An accomplished conducter, McCoy here leads some group billed as his “Magnificent Movie Machine” through disco-fied hits. [Buy]

Socci and Pency – Lux Aeterna (Requiem for the Dream)
No question, Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet’s soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream has to be on a shortlist for best film scores soundtracks of the past decade. It’s unsettling as hell, making you want to cry even as it sends shivers down your spine. This acoustic guitar duet does justice to several of the film’s motifs. [Buy]

Xentrix – Ghostbusters (Ray Parker, Jr.)
This thrash metal quartet’s take on the classic 1984 call and response is predictable loud. Who you gonna call? [Buy]

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  3 Responses to “At the Movies”

Comments (3)
  1. I was also disappointed that the live music performances are gone as I was looking forward to Randy Newman's seemingly annual attempt at winning a gong.
    Now, some nitpicking: These are not the first Oscars without live performances as they only begun at the 18th ceremony in 1946. And isn't the last name of the guy who wrote the Batman theme "Hefti"?

    You can check out twenty more covers of Best Original Song nominees at this post on my blog:

    http://pathfinderpat.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/covering-the-oscars/

  2. Hey, man, the Who DID cover 'Batman' – those 'Reens were shirking, obviously – and they might have done it if you yelled it out. The Kinks did the Hefti theme as well.

  3. Randy Newman just doesn't get enough credit from anyone. He's just a fabulous songwriter and performer.

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