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The theme song of a movie is supposed to instantly make you think of the name of the film it belongs to -- I can't be the only one who hears "Staaaaaar Waaaars, da da da DA da ..." and "Jaws, Jaws ... Jaws, Jaws ..." every time. Right? Theme songs have to be catchy and chills-inducing, but at the same time the composers can't lose sight of the fact that they are getting paid to make the director look good, not themselves.

Well, some composers said "Eh, fuck it" and did the exact opposite of that. I'm not saying these movies are necessarily terrible -- I'm saying their theme songs are so excessively and even unfairly good that they make the film look like shit in comparison. So if you're directing a movie, I'd seriously advise against hiring the musicians responsible for the theme songs to ...

Police Academy

Warner Bros.

Police Academy is a typical '80s sex comedy, only instead of starring horny college students, it stars horny police cadets. It has boobies, gay jokes, and a scene where the laid-back protagonist plays a hilarious prank on his stuck-up superior and then the stuck-up superior yells the protagonist's name real loud (probably, I don't know, it's been a while). Don't get me wrong: I liked the Police Academy movies as a kid (particularly the boobies part), but even back then I could tell that they were dumb and made me dumber every time I watched them. Which, unfortunately, was a lot (because, again, boobs).

The theme song, on the other hand, sounds like something you should play to babies in the womb to make them smarter (the slow part around 1:30 always gets me):

I think that's just a great piece of orchestral music, and apparently I'm not alone: There are literally hundreds of solemn covers of the Police Academy march on YouTube, some played by actual police officers. Please watch that clip I just linked to and picture this compilation of Zed's best scenes overlaid on top of the serious police orchestra. Or don't, because that's how you get an aneurysm.

Europe particularly seems to like this song, judging by all the weird consonant-filled words I'm seeing on YouTube, and I can see why: It is the birthplace of Bach, Beethoven, and other guys who almost came close to the majesty of this composition.

Warner Bros.

So profound is the disconnect between the film and its music that I have to wonder if composer Robert Folk even knew he was making the soundtrack for a movie about Steve Guttenberg's wacky shenanigans and not, like, some award-bait drama about heroism and sacrifice. In fact, looking at his Wikipedia page, it seems that Folk also scored a movie called Purple Hearts in the same year Police Academy came out, so maybe he got the two projects mixed up somehow (here's Purple Hearts' main theme).

A More Appropriate Theme Song for This Film:

The main song for the Police Academy franchise should be as unashamedly stupid as the movies themselves. Luckily, the centerpiece of the Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol soundtrack fits the bill pretty well:



Ben is a 1972 horror movie about a pack of telepathic killer rats, a sequel to Willard, the only other movie in the telepathic killer rat genre as of that moment. It ends with the rats getting flamethrowered to shit before they can overthrow human civilization and/or cause more sequels. One of the rats is named Ben and befriends a young kid, and then, during the last scene, this song plays as the two reunite:

It starts like Michael Jackson's classic ballad of the same name, and then ... what the fuck, that's what this is?! Is that one of those incongruous fan videos YouTube users like to make? Nope, and in fact, Cracked has talked about how the Ben album, which gave Jackson his first chart-topping solo single, almost had the killer rat army on the cover in front of the disturbingly calm-looking young M.J.:

They also almost named it Michael Jackson's All Must Pay, All Must Perish.

Obviously, only a raging schizophrenic would ever guess that the song was about a mind-reading rat just going by its lyrics about friendship and not judging people based on their appearance. This theme song would be more appropriate for the story of a man wrongfully committed to a mental institution who befriends a gentle giant convinced that he's a pop superstar. The man then takes the giant home to meet his son, and after the initial disappointment, the giant helps the kid compose a birthday song for his sister. I don't know, that's just the first story that comes to me off the top of my head.

A More Appropriate Theme Song for This Film:

Ironically, Michael Jackson would go on to score his highest-selling album (or anyone's highest-selling album) with a song that actually does sound like it belongs in a horror movie: You know, the one that goes "Thriller, Thriller, Thriller, Thriller ... No one wants to Thriller, Thriller ..." I won't put it here, though, because you've almost definitely heard it enough times in your life.

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Tron: Legacy

Walt Disney

This seems like a lazy choice, because Tron: Legacy is well known as a flashy but soulless movie, and its soundtrack was made by Daft Punk, who, inescapable summer hits aside, are generally regarded as good song makers. So of course the music is gonna be better than the movie. However, the reason I'm including this film here is that there's a track called "Adagio for Tron" that sounds like the last thing I'd expect to hear from both this franchise and this band (I'm counting it as a theme song because it has "Tron" in it; if you don't agree with that reasoning, I invite you to read a more detailed explanation on my blog):

OK, now what the fuck is this doing in a movie about Jeff Bridges and son playing first-person Pong inside a computer? This should be in some sensible period piece about two upper-class women whose burgeoning but ultimately unconsumed romance threatens to destroy the lives of those around them as a paradigm-changing war looms on the horizon. In fact, I'm convinced that when future people stumble upon this song centuries from now, they'll naturally assume it could only have come from such a film.

Walt Disney
"Ah yes, typical 19th century lady garb."

In the movie, the song plays as (SPOILERS: you don't give a shit) Tron apparently dies while sinking in a digital sea. I'll remind you now that Tron is literally a computer program -- meaning that "Adagio for Tron" is essentially used as a longer, more dramatic version of the "empty recycle bin" sound effect you hear every day on your computer. Someone please ask the Daft Punk guys to reinterpret the "shutting down Windows" jingle so we can all enjoy the resulting two-hour symphony.

A More Appropriate Theme Song for This Film:

The whole rationale behind getting Daft Punk to score this movie was probably "They like computers and stuff, right?" I think the producers could have found someone even more relevant to today's Internet users while embracing the film's video-game-related theme:


20th Century Fox

This is the part where I remind you that I never said that all the movies on this list suck, or that all these theme songs are perfect works of art (they're just way better than the movies). Are we clear on that? Good, because I'm saying it now: Speed sucks, and its theme song is a perfect work of art. Speed, in case you haven't rewatched it this century, is a bloated mess of a movie that somehow stretches a very simple concept ("This bus can't slow down or it'll explode! Also, Keanu Reeves!") for 116 goddamn minutes.

20th Century Fox

Watching Speed is like traveling on an airplane: It's fun and exciting the first time, but it fucking drags on forever every time after that. There just isn't a lot to like there once you remove the tension. On the other hand, Winamp tells me that I've listened to the movie's main theme by Mark Mancina dozens of times, and I think it's a masterpiece full of intrigue and emotion:

Despite being only three and a half minutes long, the Speed suite contains five different movements, one of which would make a kickass superhero theme song. I can say this with some authority, because back when I made my own animated films on Microsoft Kids Movie Maker 3D as a teen (obviously, I was very popular in school), I often used a MIDI of the Speed theme on the superhero ones, and it was always awesome, or at least my mom thought so. Even if you question her artistic taste (you fucker), I dare you to close your eyes and listen to this piano cover of the song and tell me you don't automatically picture Batman standing on top of a tall building, his cape waving heroically in the wind as he watches over his city below.

If instead you pictured Keanu Reeves running behind a bus while talking to Jeff Daniels on the phone, there's something wrong with you.

20th Century Fox

A More Appropriate Theme Song for This Film:

There's only one possibility:

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City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold


City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold is a wholly unnecessary "comedy" sequel starring the unholy trinity of Billy Crystal, Jon Lovitz, and the thief from Home Alone who isn't Joe Pesci. Oh, and Jack Palance's previously unrevealed twin brother/terrible plot contrivance. This movie played continuously on some cable station or another between the years 1995 and 2000, and as far as I was concerned, there was exactly one reason to watch it. This one:

That's some "Theme of Exodus" shit right there. For some reason, this song makes me think of gladiators fighting, and I assure you that few things ever do. This is seriously like the opening song for some epic Bible-themed Technicolor production of the 1950s, one that hopefully doesn't have Billy Crystal in it (Jack Palance can stay). The Curly's Gold soundtrack is inexplicably full of evocative gems like that. Here's a variation of the main theme with such a strong '60s Western flavor that they probably had to pay royalties to Sergio Leone's estate:

There's more tension and drama in that track alone than in the rest of the movie. We're talking about a "19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes" piece of crap film with a "four stars on AllMusic" soundtrack -- which is one more star than the soundtrack for City Slickers I, by the way. And that's the weirdest part for me: They could have simply used the soundtrack for the first movie and no one would have cared, just like they could have replaced not-Joe Pesci with a log with glasses and a wig and no one would have noticed.

I've digitally replaced him with a log in this shot to prove it.

But no, instead of reusing the soundtrack that was good enough for the original film, composer Marc Shaiman poured all his talent into making a much better one for the shameless cash-in of a sequel, as if no one told him that the rest of the team was half-assing it. Then again, this is the genius who arranged the music for South Park's "Uncle Fucka," so I'd expect nothing less of him.

A More Appropriate Theme Song for This Film:

Probably a three-minute remix of Jack Palance saying "Billy Crystal, I crap bigger than him" before doing one-armed pushups at the Oscars, but sadly no such thing exists yet. Make this happen, Internet.

Maxwell Yezpitelok has a new action/humor/sci-fi comic called ACK that you can read HERE, for free. So do that.

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