The Soundtrack of Our Youth: 5 Lackluster Rap Songs From Children's Flicks
What's worse: A movie geared towards kids and teens or the soundtrack to a movie geared towards kids and teens?
It's a tough call because both can be pretty awful and uninspired. Sure, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is great and had an excellent soundtrack but let's not fool ourselves: We all sat through a ton of bad movies filled with bad songs growing up. (Perhaps some of these -- ed.)
At some point in the late '80s and early '90s, someone in a boardroom somewhere decided that the key to selling more soundtracks to America's youth was rap music. More than that, the key to album sales wasn't having rappers on the soundtrack; the key was having people rap about the movie the kids had just watched.
It's not difficult to imagine that there are thousands of kids out there who first discovered rap music via the end credits of whatever Saturday matinee their parents took them to. You might remember "Ninja Rap," but do you remember blasting classics in your cassette player?
5. Movie: The Addams Family (1991) Song: MC Hammer, "Addams Groove"
I had a lot of jokes about how Hammer isn't a stranger to youth-centric soundtracks (dude has a song on the Street Fighter soundtrack) but then I uncovered the following fact: "Addams Groove" charted higher than "U Can't Touch This" on the Billboard Hot 100. Seriously America?
On the other hand, "Addams Groove" was also Hammer's last hit single. I know that it's hard to believe that "Pumps and a Bump" didn't do as well as a song about Fester and Wednesday, but it's the truth. Did "Addams Groove" kill Hammer's career? I have no idea, but I do know it's still in his Top 5 most-played songs on Spotify.
4. Movie: Ghostbusters II (1989) Song: Bobby Brown, "On Our Own"
Now, you might be thinking that "Addams Groove" was the most popular song to be featured on this list but you would be wrong. That title belongs to "On Our Own" which peaked at No. 2 on the charts and also holds the title of "Best Song Ever Written About the Ghostbusters".
I have nothing against Ray Parker, Jr. mind you but the only thing "Ghostbusters" has on "On Our Own" is the part were Parker lets us know that bustin' does in fact make him feel good. Literally rapping about fighting Vigo the Carpathian versus a veiled sex joke tells you all you need to know about the target audiences for the two films.
3. Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) Song: Partners in Kryme, "Turtle Power"
The fact that a group with only two songs, one that compares a group of mutated turtles who know martial arts to the Lone Ranger, has a Wikipedia page tells you all you need to know about what's both great and awful about a crowd-sourced encyclopedia.
I had a whole bit here about the Lone Ranger and target audiences and pop-culture awareness but then I watched the video and saw the cheerleaders wearing "turtle power" underwear and the turtles getting medals from the mayor, and I just don't know what to think anymore. Props to Master Splinter for summing up my feelings for me with his quote at the end of the video.
2. Movie: The Monster Squad (1987) Song: The Monster Squad, "The Monster Squad"
I'm not saying that Michael Sembello is a bad songwriter, I'm just saying that maybe he should have accepted the fact he peaked with the happy accident that was "Maniac" and called it a night. This gem of an end credits song screams, "I was asked to write a rap song and I said 'yes,' which is weird, because I don't understand the genre at all."
It's a real shame too, because The Monster Squad is awesome and deserving of a much better movie rap than the one it got. I've always assumed the weak end-credit song is why it's not nearly as beloved as The Goonies, even though it's a much better movie.
1. Movie: Teen Witch (1989) Song: The Michael Terry Rappers, "Top That"
A lot of people out there have the mistaken belief that "Friday" is the worst song of all time, but I dare you to watch the above clip and tell me it's not infinitely worse.
I could write an entire blog about the amount of awful things that happen in that clip, but I'll focus on three main things:
- This is the worst "boys being boys listening to music" scene in a movie ever. Even worse than the one in Freddy's Revenge.
- "Look how funky he is," said the girl in the silly hat about the man who couldn't dance.
- Apparently the investors really wanted this song in the movie. Consider that: someone thought the missing piece to making Teen Witch a box-office smash was this awful, awful song.
In closing, maybe the decision to move toward butt-rock soundtracks wasn't so bad after all.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.