Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Five: Five Great Black Songs Hollywood Ruined

Those who create terrible Hollywood movies, especially bad romantic comedies and family comedies, are an unimaginative lot. Not only do they use the same actors and clichéd plots, they use the same songs in the films and in the trailers. Some of these songs are used ironically; some are used seriously. Some are usedfor montages; some just for trailers. Most of them are stopped by a "needle being dragged off the record" sound.

The songs below are undeniably great, but because I hear them so much in romantic comedy trailers, I associate them with Hollywood dreck and can no longer simply enjoy them the way I would like to. It's really kind of depressing.

1.) “I Feel Good (I Got You)”—James Brown:

2.) “Let’s Get It On”—Marvin Gaye:

3.) “I Want You Back”—Jackson 5:

4.) “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”—Stevie Wonder:

5.) “I Put a Spell on You”—Screamin Jay Hawkins:

Honorable mention:

“Superfreak”—Rick James

“Groove Me”—King Floyd

“Loving You”—Minnie Riperton

Does anyone else have this problem? What black songs has Hollywood ruined for you?


All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

i do - especially when they in a commercial - but that means they getting paid so iaint mad

Anonymous said...

Kind of surprised you did not mention how some black songs were butchered by being used in commercials. Anyway...

- "It's Been A Long Time Coming" (Sam Cooke): After it's effective usage in Spike Lee's Malcolm X, this song has become THE go to song to use when you need to make the audience shed a tear. I weep not for the badly written films or sub par documentaries that use this song, I weep because this masterpiece is just pimped out by EVERYONE. Blasphemy!

- "Hoochie Coochie Man" (Muddy Walters): If I have to see one more movie with a WASPy guy/kid becoming or doing something "cool" with this song playing in the background, I'll write Congress to have it banned from such usage.

- "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" (McFadden & Whitehead): It's just one of those overused songs in all areas of life. ANSUN shares this with "I Believe I Can Fly" & "You Are Not Alone".

- "Celebration" (Kool & The Gang): Don't white folks know there are other great black songs to get down to?

- "The Best Man" really ruined Stevie Wonder's "Always" for me.

- "Push It" (Salt & Pepa): Hated it then just hearing it and hate seeing it now married to an image (No diss S&P).

Al From Bay Shore said...

Okay, here is the problem: you guys, for some bizarre reason, continue to hold out hope for pop culture. I sense the frustration and conflict within you. You are frustrated because, once again, pop culture (Hollywood and popular black music) has once again disappointed you. You are conflicted because, deep down inside you know that pop culture is nothing but uncreative and contrived garbage yet you still "cruise" its seedy avenues and solicit upon its dark street corners hoping that the now commercialized John Legend quickie will give you same thrill as the first time you heard a Saul Williams poem. Its not happening (can you believe that you are being lectured on the failures of popular black artistic culture by an avowed black conservative.... hehehehehe!!).

Inside of you is that urge to be countercultural. Release it!!! Kill your television and stop listening to the radio. Hollywood and the black music you referenced is dead. Its time to move on, move out, and exile ourselves along with the cultural expatriates. Purge your IPod and reconstitute it with Dwele, Res, La India, and something remixed by Larry Levan - preferably "Work That Body" by Taana Gardner (yes, this song is better than "Heartbeat"). Flee now or die from a slow torture of Mary J. Blige, Housewives of Atlanta, and Jet Magazine.

For some odd reason, you believe that that 40 oz. possesses same measure of redemption and newness as a Heineken or a Lowenbrau (yes I said "Lowenbrau" - I'm maaaad old school). Its time to forsake Madea and become Denise Huxtable - she was the Eve AND the Jesus of the black counterculture, embrace her.

I don't want to see these kinds of posts again. I want to see you advance and become refined and hip. Undertake your own 12 step program and progress towards something deep, artistic, and profoundly cool.

I'm done. I was listening to this awsome disco mix on a blog about the love of deep house music. Right now the mix has just arrived at this "dope" cut entitled "Free Your Mind" by Record Player - how is that for a coincidence? Oh shiznit.... Loose Joints was just beatmatched in... gotta go!!!! Please take my advice.

gordon gartrelle said...

Good calls, Good Reverend Dr.

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...


is it all over my face?

whenever i hear that loose joints cut I have to make that joke.

chauncey devega

Anonymous said...

This, like a few others recently is a post that I couldn't help but to insert my $0.02 into as I'm definitely in full agreement with the ruination that mainstream America has wrought upon black cultural forms of all kinds, but especially black music over the last 75 yrs or so.

"Its Your Thing" by the Isley Brothers popped instantly into my head when I read this post as a prime example. Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" is another top contender exemplifying the sure ruination of good songs by by American pop culture. Also too "Brick House" by the Commodores (back when Lionel was really in a funky zone) is COMPLETELY shot to shit now. A good number of Stevie's best tunes are also unfortunately tainted in this manner, but since "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" is already mentioned above, I'll also suggest "For Once in My Life" as being another sure bet for the list. I have many others that I can think of if I gave it more time, but I'd also like to say too, that like Brother Al is astutely observing above, its almost useless for progressive black intellectuals (as I would surely consider the three of you) to romanticize black culture and engage in the idea that there can be a protective sort of "ownership" that black people can assert over it, or that it can be immune to the same kinds of commercializing impulses to which all other kinds of cultural pursuits unfolding in America since its beginnings have succumbed...

But all that bs about cultural commodification aside, another good post indeed!

gordon gartrelle said...


Al, that was impressive. It also couldn't be more wrong. I can only speak for myself, but I know Chauncey well enough to know that your description fits neither of us.

I don't look to pop culture for anything but occasional entertainment.

I'm fascinated, though, by your repeated references to Denise Huxtable as some symbol of black cool. I'd like to see you elaborate on it. I admit that I'm skeptical: you'll have to convince me that your aren't parroting a bougie faux sophistication akin to the Tyler Perry-isms you bemoan.

MilesEllison said...

This list should include any Motown song in a movie where white families are dancing, and any Jimi Hendrix song in a Vietnam War film.

Jeannette said...

Dance to the music by Sly and the Family Stone was killed dead for me by Black Knight..
I am still angry about that movie..