Yesterday, a coworker asked me if I’d seen the “Event Horizon” music video.
I had not. But it arrived in my inbox a dozen times over the next 24 hours from other friends who, too, found NYC-based band .357 LOVER’s ode to the 1997 sci-fi non-classic, complete with delightfully shoddily greenscreened video, irresistible.
Anyone can Will Smith their way into a plot song about the movie it appears in (usually running over the end credits). It’s a rarer and, often, cheesier tune that apropos of nothing in particular devotes itself to a film. Here are seven selection from the past three decades, from newest on back to the early ’80s.
.357 LOVER – “Event Horizon”
Inspired by: “Event Horizon” (1997)
Those visuals! That endless guitar solo! And those lyrics: “Then we’ll rescue our friends from the gates of hell / Wave back to the rest and wish them well.” Singer Jon Cunningham, better known as Corn Mo, devotes an improbable amount of heartfelt passion to the happenings of Paul WS Anderson’s haunted spaceship Blockbuster rental standard. (I’d be remiss to not mention the band also have a song devoted to “Time Cop.”)
Guyz Nite – “Die Hard”
Inspired by: “Die Hard” (1988), “Die Hard 2” (1990) and “Die Hard: With a Vengeance” (1995)
While this 2006 song already sounds oddly Fall Out Boy-era dated, the chorus is still fist-pump catchy: “We’re gonna die (DIE!) die (DIE!) die (DIE!) die hard!” Guyz Nite, who label themselves “Beer Metal” and have testosteroned-out stage names like Guy Manley and Bear Woods, sometimes cheat on their rhymes (“The good cop wouldn’t miss this / Even though it wasn’t Christmas”), but deserve extra points for covering the first three “Die Hard” films (“Live Free or Die Hard” hadn’t come out yet) and working John McClane’s signature profanity into a downright lovely bridge.
Greenskeepers – “Lotion”
Inspired by “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
The Chicago-based Greenskeepers had the ingenious revelation that Buffalo Bill’s famous “The Silence of the Lambs” line to Catherine Martin, imprisoned in his basement, scans perfectly, no edits or additions necessary: “It rubs the lotion on its skin / Or else it gets the hose again.” Combine that with a slinky bassline and you have something that could outlast its own serial killer song novelty potential.
Catatonia – “I Am The Mob”
Inspired by: “The Godfather” (1972)
The late Brit-pop band Catatonia never really made headway in the U.S. market, and if they were going to break through, it probably wouldn’t have been with “I Am The Mob,” an awful song that happens to be, quite unabashedly, about “The Godfather.” “I put horses’ heads in people’s beds / ’cause I am the mob,” sings Cerys Matthews, though you’d imagine Don Vito Corleone would put a more nuanced spin on it. The repeated closing line: “Luca Brasi, he sleeps with the fishes.”
Iron Maiden – “Man on the Edge”
Inspired by “Falling Down” (1993)
Remember “Falling Down,” the Joel Schumacher movie in which a disgruntled Michael Douglas lays waste to a Los Angeles convenience store, fast food restaurant, telephone booth and so on, all the while trying to get home to his daughter’s birthday party? So does Iron Maiden. There are quite a few movie-centric songs in the band’s body of work, from “The Wicker Man” to “Where Eagles Dare,” but “Man on the Edge” both makes its subject into a bellowed chorus (“Falling down! Falling down! Falling down!” sings Blaze Bayley) and manages the following bit of poetry: “Once he built missiles a nation’s defense / Now he can’t even give birthday presents.”
Pixies – “Debaser”
Inspired by: “Un chien andalou” (1929)
I have no idea what came out of my mouth when I would try to sing along to this song growing up, but it sure wasn’t a conscious Buñuel reference. Black Francis/Frank Black sings about “a movie” and “slicing up eyeballs,” but you’d be forgiven for not getting the gesture toward the surrealist classic — the chorus, in which he declares that “I am un chien andalusia,” as a fan page helpfully explains, “actually mixes English (‘I am’), Spanish (‘un’, which exists in French, but is actually pronounced as in Spanish), French (‘chien’), and something undetermined (‘andalusia’ as such is neither French nor Spanish).”
Neil Diamond – “Heartlight”
Inspired by “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)
Universal Studios claimed copyright infringement and got $25,000 from Diamond and his cowriters on this syrupy slice of adult contemporary heaven, Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach, even though it never mentions the adorable blockbuster alien that inspired it. Then again, lyrics like “Turn on your heartlight / In the middle of a young boy’s dream / Don’t wake me up too soon / Gonna take a ride across the moon / You and me” didn’t leave Diamond much room to argue he was actually crooning about “The Cannonball Run.”
And? What have I left off? Besides Falco’s “Amadeus.”