The Five Most Hilarious Movie Tie-In Songs
Let us go now to the 1980s, 1990s and mid-aughtss at the latest, a time when every summer blockbuster had to be ushered in with a hopefully hit song performed by whichever member of the cast was best at rapping. “Ghostbusters,” “Men in Black,” “Batdance” — these songs are burned into your memory if you’re old enough or just skilled in playlist creation. Others have been memory-holed, deservedly or not, despite being absolutely hilarious.
‘Deepest Bluest (Shark’s Fin)’ by LL Cool J
“Deepest Bluest” sounds like the joke somebody would make before buckling down in the brainstorming session for naming the outro song for 1999’s Deep Blue Sea, but it was apparent as far as they got. Impressively, it’s not even the most ridiculous part of the refrain, which Mr. Cool J raps in full, “Deepest bluest, my hat is like a shark fin.”
Because, like, how? We’re looking at your hat, LL Cool J, which could more accurately be called a do-rag, and there’s nothing remotely fin-like about it. Does he wear a shark fin on his head in the movie? Can someone go find someone who’s seen Deep Blue Sea and check? The line apparently calls back to his 1987 song “I’m Bad,” which contains the lyrics, “MCs can’t win / I make ‘em rust like tin / They call me Jaws / My hat is like a shark’s fin,” so that clears up… Nope, that clears up nothing.
That’s not even the most troubling question raised about the plot of the movie. It becomes clear by the second verse that when LL claims to be “half man, half shark,” it’s no metaphor. “They switched my DNA,” he says, and now he “can’t fight the feeling, I’m born to kill prey.” Is that what Deep Blue Sea is about? A shark man played by LL Cool J? If not, never tell us. We want to believe. To be fair, the song does have some dope-ass lines. We want to get “I ate your ancestors, the ocean is haunted” tattooed on us somewhere.
‘Snakes on a Plane (Bring It!)’ by Cobra Starship
Remember Cobra Starship? They did that song with the Gossip Girl. That wasn’t their only inexplicable collaboration, because they also did the song that played over the closing credits of Snakes on a Plane that you missed because you saw several hiply dressed young people walking into an airport in slow motion to a replay of Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic line and made the wise decision to leave early.
Were it not for the alternate explanation presented in the video for how the snakes got on the plane, it would be unclear that these guys know what snakes are. They’re described as “lounging in their suits and ties” and “slithering with dollar signs in their eyes” because “we actually didn’t want to make it too literal about snakes on a plane, so we used a metaphor of snakes being like shady dudes,” explained singer Gabe Saporta. “That way it’s not completely just a joke,” guest vocalist William Beckett added, unaware of what movie he was in. Between the commentary on post-9/11 airport security, skinny jeans and Travis McCoy, the whole thing is so 2006 that Pete Wentz just spontaneously manifested.
That’s not a joke — that’s him on the pay phone.
‘Wise Guy’ by Joe Pesci
Okay, “Wise Guy” isn’t technically a tie-in song. For one thing, it was released six years after 1992’s My Cousin Vinny, on an album full of songs ostensibly from the perspective of Joe Pesci’s character in the movie, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You. But the album abandons its premise by the second song, which is clearly more inspired by Pesci’s Goodfellas character. Have you ever wanted to hear Joe Pesci rap about bitches and drive-bys? Of course you have. We all have. Here you go.
Yes, that’s Naomi Campbell. Yes, she was in the throes of cocaine addiction at the time. This is just the tip of the fascinating iceberg that is Pesci’s music career, which spans three albums evenly spaced out over the course of 50 years. When he recorded Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You, it had been 30 years since his first (and only, at that point) album of pop standards, having apparently been waiting for just the right idea. In 2019, he released his third album, Pesci… Still Singing, which included a duet with Adam Levine on “My Cherie Amour.” You’re welcome for not linking to it.
‘Buggin’’ by Bugs Bunny
We’ve gotta cut to this chase as fast as possible: Jay-Z wrote a song for Bugs Bunny. And Daffy Duck. You wouldn’t have heard it unless you decided the radio didn’t play “I Believe I Can Fly” enough in 1996 and bought the Space Jam soundtrack, but you would have been handsomely rewarded if you did. It was presumably voiced by Billy West and Dee Bradley Baker, who played the Looney Tunes in the film, so actually, Jay-Z wrote a song for Philip J. Fry and Olmec as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. And it whips.
Jay did not phone this in, even though it wasn’t “‘til later on” that he really got “the significance of what it mean(t)” to write a song for Bugs Bunny. “For me, it was just, ‘Write a song for Bugs Bunny,’” but the then-unknown rapper gave it his all, recalling that “I was in Sony studios, acting like a rabbit.” West holds his own with Jay’s rhymes, too, all while maintaining Bugs’ voice. This is the rare movie tie-in song that’s only funny in how hard it had no right to go.
‘City of Crime’ by Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd
Speaking of surprisingly good rappers, you probably didn’t expect those words to relate to the 1987 Dragnet reboot starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, mostly because nobody remembered that was a thing. But in “City of Crime,” in which the stars recap the plot in verse to a Gary Oldman-looking cult leader, Hanks shows off chops that would put him right at home with the Beastie Boys. Absolutely no one else, but definitely those guys.
Whether he holds up as well with the Paula Abdul-choreographed dance routine is a matter of opinion, but it’s probably no coincidence that there’s an extended focus on the LAPD’s miniskirt division. Although the song was forgotten as quickly as the movie, it was the first YouTube video Hanks ever saw because he told his kids about it one day, thinking they’d never manage to dig up a VHS copy, only for them to immediately find it online. So now we know Chet Hanks’s origin story.