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LOOKBACK AT A SOUNDTRACK:  The Blues Brothers (photo)

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Just with its hall-of-fame talent alone, The Blues Brothers is arguably one of the best music movies ever made. It also helps that Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, and Aretha Franklin’s cameos never feel forced–they’re perfectly interwoven throughout the storyline and their performances are allowed to breathe without any interruption.

(left: “Who here at this table can honestly say that they played any finer or felt any better than they did when they were with the Blues Brothers?”)

As expected, a film using music as its backbone boasts one hell of a music soundtrack, one that has been passed down from father to son–from vinyl to cassette to CD to MP3–ever since its release in 1980. The Blues Brothers soundtrack has become so popular over the years, there are many people who can sing it song-for-song, word-for-word without ever having seen the film it represents. Few soundtracks can make that claim.

In 2009, the concept of both The Blues Brothers film and soundtrack sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen (or better yet, a high-speed car chase through a crowded mall); let’s get two white comedians, have ’em sing black soul music, and pair ’em up side-by-side with some of the biggest names in the genre. Though their shtick didn’t go without criticism, if John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd couldn’t carry a tune (or exude a little bit of soul), we wouldn’t be talking about The Blues Brothers soundtrack almost 30 years later. For a bunch of kids growing up in the 80’s, myself included, The Blues Brothers–which has been played countless times over the years on basic cable–gave us our first introduction to the world of rhythm and blues music.

Like most albums compiled before the digital age, The Blues Brothers soundtrack only features 11 tracks, which means not every musical number in the film is represented. In an age where we market the life out of everything, it’s almost unthinkable that John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” did not make the cut.

That being said, every track on The Blues Brothers soundtrack is not only an exceptional song, but will immediately take you back to a moment in the film. If I say “Minnie The Moocher” what do you picture in your head? How ’bout the theme song to Rawhide? I can’t tell you how many touring bands can relate to that scene at Bob’s Country Bunker. “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love“? Say what you will about Dan Aykroyd today, but his intro on this song still gets me pumped up.

We also can’t forget about another one of the soundtrack’s stapels, the cover of “Peter Gunn Theme,” a song that many associate solely with The Blues Brothers, more so than the television series it represented years earlier.

Including big names on a movie soundtrack doesn’t make it special, considering any film with deep pockets can pretty much pluck any song from any artist they like. What makes it work on The Blues Brothers soundtrack is that every big name on the album can be put in context with a scene in the film, making Aretha Franklin’s “Think,” Ray Charles’ “Shake A Tail Feather,” and James Brown’s gospel-drenched “The Old Landmark” that much more meaningful.

If The Blues Brothers is arguably one of the most memorable films about music ever made, what does that say about its soundtrack?

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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