You might be surprised to learn that in 1992 the No. 1 movie in theaters on Valentine's Day was not a romantic comedy. Twenty years ago this week, a film about a pair of rock-obsessed, public-access TV hosts from Aurora, Illinois was released, and would go on to make $121 million at the box office.
Along the way, Wayne's World would give us one of the great movie/music scenes of all time and breathe new life in to a Queen song that had seen better days
Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?
So sure, when it was released in 1975 "Bohemian Rhapsody" was a hit, reaching No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 9 here in the U.S. The early part of 1992 was a different story.
Although the song had received renewed interest in the wake of the passing of Freddie Mercury, it wasn't a fixture on most classic-rock stations. The six-minute epic was a classic, just not one that got a lot of airplay.
And then Wayne Campell and Garth Algar decided to take a drive that would change everything.
Wayne's World/"Bohemian Rhapsody": The soundtrack for Wayne's World would hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts and the re-release of "Bohemian Rhapsody" would go all the way to No. 2 on the magazine's Singles chart, 16 years after it peaked in its initial release. I'm not going to say that Mike Myers is directly responsible for the song's renewed interest over the last 20 years, but one can't deny the movie's place in its history either.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" wasn't the only song to benefit from choice placement in a film. Movies had been giving old songs renewed success for years before Wayne and Garth hopped in that baby blue AMC Pacer. Take a look at some of these classic movie moments that brought songs back to the charts.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off/"Twist And Shout": The Beatles recording featuring the great raucous vocals of John Lennon was a success in its initial release in 1964, going all the way to No. 2 on the U.S. singles chart (The No. 1 song? "Can't Buy Me Love.")
Its appearance in the classic parade scene of Ferris Bueller's Day Off brought the song back to the charts in 1986. Paul McCartney might not have been happy with the brass overdubs in the film version, but one imagines he wasn't too upset that the song spent 7 weeks on the charts that year, peaking at No. 23. When you combine that with the 16 weeks the song spent on the charts the first go-round you end up with The Beatles' longest-running Top 40 hit.
Stand By Me/"Stand By Me": While some movie/music combinations are carefully thought out from the first draft of the script, this one exists because it was the solution to a problem. The producers of the movie didn't like its original title, The Body, and were searching for something they thought would better suit the film. It was Rob Reiner who suggested they use the title of the 1961 Ben E. King classic for the film''s title. The inclusion of the song on the film's soundtrack helped "Stand By Me" hit No. 9 on the singles chart 25 years after its original release.
Say Anything.../"In Your Eyes": For many, the image of John Cusack with a ghetto blaster over his head remains simply the most romantic gesture in the world. The rest of us simply hate Cusack for creating unrealistic romantic desires in our partners.
Still, when I watch that scene, I can't think of another song that would fit quite as right as "In Your Eyes.". The song was only a moderate success upon its initial release in 1986, peaking at No. 26. The song just missed out on reentering the Top 40 in 1989. There are no charts for "ghetto blaster over the head" airplay, but one assumes it remains in the Top 5, at least.
Ghost/"Unchained Melody":The most sensual pottery-wheel scene in film history was so popular that it caused "Unchained Melody" to chart twice in 1990. The story goes like this: People see the movie, people want the song. The reissue of the Righteous Brothers' 1965 version of the track was released, but only as a 45 RPM single. People who can play it buy it, but others preferred it in a different format.
So, the song was re-recorded and released on cassette single. The 45 peaked at No. 13, the cassette single peaked at No. 19, and for eight weeks both were in the Hot 100. And you thought the shadowy demon things dragging people away were the craziest thing about Ghost.