Once upon a time, no successful franchise was considered complete without a tie-in album or two. And no, we don't mean an official soundtrack -- we mean original songs, often sung by the cast, in character. Video game characters, wrestlers, superheroes, you name it -- they would all take time to release novelty singles as if part of some elaborate experiment to see if there's anything fans won't spend money on.
And yes, these tracks were often even more insane than you'd expect ...
#6. "Wise Guy," by Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini
We'll give you a moment to read that headline and try to puzzle through it. Trust us -- knowing the details isn't going to clear things up for you.
Joe Pesci has had a pretty interesting movie career, seamlessly switching between two types of roles: violent sociopaths (Goodfellas, Casino, etc.) and lovable losers like in My Cousin Vinny, where he plays the wise-cracking attorney Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, who has to defend his cousin from a false murder charge. Somehow, some way, through a chain of decisions that no human logic could ever follow, they had Pesci make an album where he sings as that guy.
20th Century Fox
"Joe Pesci may never play an angry New Jersey stereotype again; better monetize this while we can."
Thus into the annals of history was born the 1998 Pesci rap song "Wise Guy," from the album Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You.
Strangely, Pesci reinvents the character for the purpose of the song, quickly getting confused about which film he was making the album for. So he winds up talking about how his lawyer character is a violent murderer, describing him more like Tommy from Goodfellas:
If there's a witness on tape that they play,
Probably a broad that I used to lay,
The last one to talk was never ever found.
So we wind with a song about life as a gangster, rapped over a Blondie track, sung by a fictional incompetent lawyer who once showed up to a trial in an usher's suit.
20th Century Fox
"The bow tie: yes or no?"
After sitting through rap boasts straight out of a Simpsons parody, we get to what can sort of be described as the main "story" of "Wise Guy": Vinny talks about being ratted out by a girl he used to bang. In retribution, he runs over her brother, buries her father alive, and bangs her sister:
Her brother didn't like me, I hit him with a truck.
Her sister was a rip, everybody got a ride.
Her father was a rat, so I buried him alive.
And this is just one of 14 tracks! Three of which give Pesci a writing credit! And did we mention the album came out six years after the movie?
20th Century Fox
The world needed some time for "yoots" to become funny again.
#5. "Ignorance Is Bliss," by Bowser from Mario Bros.
In 1991, after years of convincing kids that reading is for losers who can't afford game consoles, Nintendo finally decided to give back to society and combat the problem of illiteracy ... with a song. That song was "Ignorance Is Bliss," an upbeat piece sung appropriately by Bowser, the Super Mario villain who's never figured out why repeated false imprisonment hasn't made Princess Peach fall in love with him yet.
Appearing on the official Nintendo album White Knuckle Scorin' (where it was performed by the band Jellyfish), "Ignorance Is Bliss" starts off innocently enough with Bowser kidnapping Peach to lure Mario and Luigi to his lair. Then, suddenly, the entire thing goes all There Will Be Blood after Bowser claims that he wants to use a magical book to turn Yoshi and his dinosaur family into oil.
With my magic book, I'll shower
Those clumsy lizards with my power
Until Dinosaur Land is nothing but fossil fuel.
But that's not really a problem because, get this: Bowser can't read.
My only problem with these spells
Is that I know not what they tell
So every hex leaves me perplexed ...
So that's why he keeps ignoring Peach's restraining orders.
More importantly, though, we also learn that the title of "Ignorance Is Bliss" might actually be referring to Peach being better off not knowing what Bowser is planning for her, what with lyrics like:
Princess Toadstool, I know you're frightened!
Mmm ... 'Cause if you knew just why you're here
Your fear would just be heightened.
By now you're probably wondering how "Ignorance Is Bliss" is supposed to fight illiteracy, seeing as here that's the only thing stopping a species-wide genocide. That's actually all covered in the official comic book included with the CD, which also provides all sorts of additional information about this story, like how Bowser needs all that oil to join OPEC:
There's a surprising crossover audience between children's games and international energy policy wonks.
... or how every time Mario defeats an enemy, he in fact gets a massive erection:
In the next panel he snorts ground-up invincibility star off Luigi's bare thigh.
It's like they immediately decided the already-bizarre world of Mario didn't provide enough material for a song by the main villain, so they go off the reservation and just start making up random shit that has never, ever been referenced in any of the games. After all, it's not like they had the option of, say, just not making the album at all.
#4. "The Man in Black," by The Undertaker
Mark "The Undertaker" Calaway needs no introduction if you're a pro wrestling fan, or even vaguely familiar with the WWE. For those who don't know, Calaway has been playing various incarnations of his magical Undertaker wrestling persona for more than 20 years, including stints as an unstoppable zombie and a mystical priest. Part of his performance includes entering the arena to gongs, church bells, organs, and other "dark" sounds, building up an ominous tone that is the polar opposite of The Undertaker's 1993 rap/spoken word single "The Man in Black."
The song, which is a part of WWF Superstars -- Wrestlemania: The Album, promisingly kicks off with nice guitar riffs and acceptably cheesy lyrics like:
The man in black has got a tombstone just for you!
But around 30 seconds in, playful keyboards and drum machines start pumping like the dead man of the WWE has suddenly been replaced by MC Hammer. Next, rapping with the same energy and dedication you'd expect from a narcoleptic math teacher (to the point that it appears to just be random lines he recorded without music), The Undertaker informs you that he's:
The most powerful entity in the World Wrestling Federation, slam jam death!
For some reason, it sounds eerily familiar.
The first part sort of makes sense, but what does "slam jam death" mean? Our best guess is that Calaway genuinely ran out of things to say and just shouted the first random thing that popped into his head. And considering that the majority of the song already consists of him repeating the phrase "the man in black" like a broken record, we're going to say that that is exactly what happened here.
We just can't figure out why ...
Actually, listen to the end of the song -- the last several seconds are the sound of his footsteps and finally a door opening, like they just kept rolling as Calaway got bored and decided to go grab some lunch.