Ten Cringeworthy Music Videos From Film Soundtracks

In the Golden Age of Music Video, Hollywood often came knocking, sometimes to embarrassing effect. For every “Danger Zone” or “Footloose” from Kenny Loggins that we embraced, there’s a “Meet Me Half Way” (from Stallone’s arm-wrestling aria “Over The Top”) we had to endure. Join us as we witness the walk of shame that resulted from some truly wince-inducing hookups between film soundtrack songs and their music video partners.

1. John Parr “St Elmo’s Fire” from “St. Elmo’s Fire”
Sitting pretty as the Dances With Wolves of Cringeworthy Crossovers, the questions abound: Why is he singing to them? Why are they hanging out in an alley? How did Mare Winningham become the only Oscar nominee of that crew? Does Ashton Kutcher play this on a loop at the house to tease the Missus? Absolutely none of the Brat Packers in this one can fake any enthusiasm about Parr’s singing, much less his greying mullet. Watch Rob Lowe try to keep a straight face. He’s probably thinking that Billy Hixx and the New Breed should have recorded it. That’s out of hand!


2. Paul McCartney “Spies Like Us” from “Spies Like Us”.
Where does one even start with the war-crimes level atrocities perpetrated in McCartney’s unfunny clip? If you must record a song for a Dan Ackroyd/Chevy Chase film, don’t let them appear in the music video, and certainly don’t allow them to walk across Abbey Road and take a steaming dump on your legacy. Yes, I know, Sir Paul is taking the piss out of his “Live and Let Die” Bond attachment (sort of), but to steal a term from the great NY Post film critic Rod Dreher, this is a flaming ball of maximum crapulosity. Another Beatle doing something this horrible is hard to “Imagine”….see what I did there?


3. BB King “Into the Night” from “Into the Night”
4. BB King “Lucille” from “Into the Night
I can’t help but think that John Landis’ experience directing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” must have hooked him on the genre, because we got not ONE but TWO tie-ins to his film “Into The Night”. I can hear the meeting now, “….hey, we can get Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer to do it, and I’ll call Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin! Dan Ackroyd? Uh, sure. Yeah, I don’t know what they’ll do, we’ll figure that out later.” I’m STILL trying to figure it out. I can’t help but think that listening to Jeff Goldblum’s account of the shoot would be far more entertaining, especially over a plate of Jeff Goldblum wafers.


5. Billy Ocean “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” from “The Jewel of the Nile”
The “Caribbean Queen” crooner scored a hit with an unnecessarily long title from the “Jewel of the Nile” soundtrack, but again with the backup singers in tuxes thing? Is the Pips all anyone could think of? Ah, Kathleen Turner, back when she was still smoking hot. Nothing against Michael Douglas, but I think his throat cancer was caused by….okay, sorry, not cool. Danny Devito is doing shots of Limoncello somewhere trying to forget that he once air-banded a saxophone solo in this embarrassing mess.

Billy Ocean’s “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” (no embedded allowed, so you gotta click to see!)

6. Andy Taylor “Take It Easy” from “American Anthem”
Directed by Marcelo Anciano, who told me, “I have stories about that shoot, and I’m not sure they can be published!” Poor Andy Taylor, Duran Duran’s unsung gunslinger and American rock wannabe whose six-string legacy consists of the sticky riff from “Hungry Like The Wolf” and trying to rework the chords of “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” into everything he can (If you like “Take It Easy”, you’ll love “She Can Rock It” ). Sporting a mullet that evokes Joan Cusack in “Working Girl”, Taylor and his band play the largest bandstand ever set in an art deco bar. Wayne Gretzky’s future wife Janet Jones flirts and slinks around, and at least Anciano had the good sense to put gymnast-cum-thespian Mitch Gaylord up on the parallel bars where he belongs. Gaylord can’t dance, but hell, at least it’s not “Gymkata”.

7. Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks “City of Crime” from “Dragnet”
Sometimes, late at night, a chill must go up the spine of two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks when he ponders “City of Crime,” his ill-advised hip-hop duet with Dan Ackroyd. Hanks is at his “Bachelor Party” goofiest and Ackroyd pops an Elwood move here and there, but if The White Man’s War to Kill Rap had a weapon of mass destruction, this was it. Besides, why try to outdo the soundtrack’s gem – The Art of Noise’s remake of the classic Dragnet theme? Marty Callner, who would later rule the metal world with Whitesnake & Aerosmith clips, directed this mountain-leveling earthquake of humiliation.

8. Cyndi Lauper “The Goonies R Good Enough” from “The Goonies”
Truffle shuffle, anyone? This dumb-as-dirt two-part serial is wrestling-era Cyndi, evidenced by the presence of Rowdy Roddy Piper et al. Richard Donner actually helmed this video (as you can see by the behind the scenes clip included below) possibly reminiscing about when he was directing the Danger Island segments on The Banana Splits Show. The Goonies cast members help Cyndi retrieve some lost treasure, with Josh Brolin getting a peck on the cheek from The Unusual One herself as Short Round and Rudy and the not-dead Corey run around. Oh, and the Bangles show up dressed as pirates, which sounds like the greatest Penthouse Forum letter ever.

9. AC/DC “Big Gun” from “Last Action Hero”
The Governator’s lowest grossing movie also boasts an AC/DC song and video (though in Angus & Company film crossover-land, I prefer the Maximum Overdrive soundtrack “Who Made Who”). Director David Mallet told me Ahnold was up for fun: “I said to him ‘I want you to make an idiot of yourself’ and he said ‘I’ll do it.’” And there he is, doing his best Angus shuffle in full schoolboy outfit, with a “Thunderstruck” up-the-shorts shot of their dance moves. “The Big Gun is a big dick,” Mallet also said. Indeed.

10. Aretha Franklin “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
Aretha recorded a plodding and forgettable cover of the Stones’ classic for this film, with an in-studio video featuring Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and American Idol’s Randy Jackson sporting a hi-top fade and a pink bass. Whoopi’s sneaks in as a backup singer, and when Aretha summons her to the front to accompany her, the Whoopster struts her stuff Jagger-style. Keith smokes a lot of cigarettes in this one. And Aretha’s Gremlins-like new wave ponytail trumps the Obama inauguration hat in the list of memorable “Aretha’s head” moments.

BONUS VIDEO: El Debarge “Who’s Johnny” from “Short Circuit”
El Debarge — is that Spanish for “The Debarge”? Why are we in a courtroom with Ally Sheedy on the stand? When you have to have a cardboard cutout of Steve Guttenberg as a stand-in, isn’t that the universe telling you something? And is it just me, or does this song rip-off Madonna’s “Open Your Heart”? Don’t miss the key change!

Honorable Mentions:
Los Lobos “La Bamba”
Oingo Boingo “Weird Science”
Thompson Twins “Nothing In Common”
Ray Parker Jr. “Ghostbusters”
Little Richard & Philip Bailey “Twins”
Guns N’ Roses “You Could Be Mine” from “Terminator 2”


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