Wednesday, June 23, 2004

THERE'S NO EARTHLY WAY OF KNOWING: Not only did I call the top song on the AFI list, but, on the flipisde not one of the other songs I referenced yesterday's post made it to the top 100.

(Not even "Hooray for Captain Spaulding". Among the other biases I cover below, it was an anti-comedy compilation.)

As you can see from the full list, there's a lot of Garland/Minnelli, a lot of Streisand, and much less Disney and Elvis than I would have expected. No "Circle of Life"? No "Be Our Guest", no "Under The Sea", no "Heigh Ho", no whiny immigrant mouse song?

It's an odd list in several ways. By including songs so many songs previously written for Broadway or popularized elsewhere ("It Had To Be You", "Moon River"), it was unclear what the real criteria was. (According to the press release, factors were to include cultural impact, legacy and "music and lyrics . . . that set a tone or mood, define character, advance plot and/or express the film's themes in a manner that elevates the moving image art form".)

Because if one were to focus on songs written for that movie and based on impact in that movie, then works like "I'm Easy" (Nashville) and "Suicide Is Painless" (M*A*S*H) would've been higher, "Eye of the Tiger" and "In Your Eyes" would've made the cut and Fame's "Is It Okay If I Call You Mine?" would've . . . naah, it still wouldn't have.

A few other notes for now:
--If there were an Internet in the 1930s, there would have been a whole host of Shirley Temple Turns Legal Countdown websites, no?

--Could they have found someone other than Michael Feinstein to comment on every song from the b&w era?

--Not surprisingly, the list was deeply anti-contemporary. No Prince. Nothing from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. Nothing from Top Gun. Nothing from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and nothing from a John Hughes or Cameron Crowe film.

--I got no quarrel with any of the songs in the top ten. I might've changed them around, but they're all worthy. (That said, Paul Robeson's "Ol Man River"? Chills. Top five.)

--And there were some great musical numbers that got ignored -- "Say A Little Prayer" from My Best Friend's Wedding, "I'm Through With Love" from Everyone Says I Love You and Beetlejuice's "Day-O" to name three. (Again, what were the real standards here?).

We're fortunate that there have been so many great movie songs that you could come up with a list of 100 different songs, and it'd still be three great hours of television.

But seriously, how can you have a list of 100 top movie songs and not include a single song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Who can take a sunrise . . .

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