Like me, you probably associate certain albums or songs with memorable periods, milestones, or events in your life. For example, my roommate in college had a thing for Michael Bolton, so whenever I hear one of his “Greatest Hits,” I’m immediately transported back to my freshman year dorm room. If I hear song from Norah Jones’ critically acclaimed “Come Away With Me,” I’m whisked off to a bed & breakfast my husband and I stayed during our honeymoon where that album played nonstop in the common room. I connect most songs with positive memories—but there are unfortunately a few tunes that I once liked… only to have them ruined by films. Here are my top three:
1) Singin’ in the Rain
I really wish this song made my mind recall Gene Kelly dancing around joyfully amidst puddles in the 1952 musical of the same name. Alas, once I saw Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, this little ditty (ranked #3 on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 songs in American cinema—and linked to Kelly’s film, of course) only served to conjure up disturbing flashbacks of Malcolm McDowell’s Alex DeLarge and his gang of Droogs enjoying a night of “ultra-violence,” which consists of breaking into a writer’s home, beating him, and raping his wife… all while belting out “Singin’ in the Rain.” [Shudder.]
During my senior year of high school, my friends and I went through a phase of listening to a lot of ’70s songs. We were big fans of The Eagles and The Steve Miller Band (even saw them in concert at the time), and we also took a liking to a 1972 Stealers Wheel song called “Stuck in the Middle with You.” Now, I’m really glad that none of us were hip enough at that point to see Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs when it came out in 1992—the year of our graduation—because otherwise we would’ve all been scarred for life. When I finally rented the film years later, I was horrified that “Stuck in the Middle with You” ended up being the soundtrack to which Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) dances around like a maniac before torturing an LA police office and slicing off his freakin’ ear. Those few minutes destroyed “Stuck” for me. I always turn it off now when it comes on the radio—it makes me nauseous now. Sadness.
Time for a disclaimer of sorts: I wasn’t actually a fan of this 1984 Night Ranger power-ballad before seeing how it was used in 1997′s Boogie Nights, but I have to admit that it was a fun one to bust out if, say, it came on the radio while you were on a long road trip and you had the windows down and just wanted to be goofy and rock out. But after I heard it playing in the background during the first half of the “drug deal gone incredibly awry” scene in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Golden Age of Porn” drama, I’ve never been able to listen to it again without seeing the mustachioed gun-loving dude to the right (Alfred Molina). The weird thing is that Rick Springfield’s hit song “Jessie’s Girl” played during the last and most tense part of this same scene, but for whatever reason it’s only “Sister Christian” that I associate with the drugged-up, bare-chested, speedo-wearing kingpin.
I know I can’t be the only one who’s had a song ruined, or at least severely tainted, by its use in a film. What songs would be on your Tarnished by the Movies list?