Theme songs: they’re the ever-lasting effect of childhood summer nights spent gawking at the television. Synth riffs and digital beats that trigger grand memories of a simpler time when merely staying up late was an event in itself. Yet for every “Don’t You Forget About Me”, “Gangster’s Paradise” or “Kiss from a Rose”, there are another 10 theme songs that inspire self harm amongst moviegoers who struggle to find something - anything! - to inflict pain upon one’s ear canals before suffering through another chorus. But worse again are the big screen re-imaginings of some of film and television’s most beloved theme songs - as we found out recently with the Ghostbusters release. They’re often the result of a bright idea from a highly paid marketing exec: “I know, why don’t we get *insert most popular contemporary artist here* to do their take on the original!?” Why? Why!? This is why…
Ghostbusters (2016): Fall Out Boy ft. Missy Elliott - “I’m Not Afraid”
It’s been described by the New York Times as “so bad it’s scary”. And is arguably the worst crime against music since Fall Out Boy’s formation in 2001. Jokes aside, FOB have had plenty of hits over the years to justify their popularity and this is far from their worst effort. But by comparison to Ray Parker Junior’s original 1984 effort that won the hearts and minds of kids everywhere, “I’m Not Afraid” is more trite than tribute. And while Missy Elliott’s flow may be on 11, her rhymes are more inane than the idea to pair the two artists together in the first place. But, is it the worst thing to happen to the Ghostbusters franchise?
Ghostbusters II (1989): Run DMC - “Ghostbusters”
The worst thing to happen to the Ghostbusters franchise isn’t FOB or the 1989 sequel, but the theme song that accompanied it. In fact, the “Ghostbusters” rap makes FOB’s involvement look inspired by comparison. You can’t blame Run DMC for cashing in at the height of music video popularity and the beginning of cross-over content. And RPJ’s original wasn’t exactly the greatest building block for a rap. But for cringeworthiness, this actually trumps Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel from 1991.
Addams Family (1991)” MC Hammer - “Addams Groove”
It was a brutal few years for rap credibility, breaking out from the streets and into the mainstream world of film. And MC Hammer didn’t fare any better than his counterparts Run DMC and Vanilla Ice. Though in a career sense, Hammer went the way of the latter. The year 1991 was the beginning of the end for the preacher with the beats and his “Addams Groove” was proof that he couldn’t turn every sample into a hit. In fact, it almost negated the brilliance that was “Can’t Touch This”, which used sample from Rick James.
James Bond: Quantum of Solace (2008): Jack White & Alicia Keys - “Another Way To Die”
Alongside either of the Ghostbusters re-makes, this song is Grammy worthy. But compared to the original Bond - or any theme song for that matter - it’s left plenty to be desired to say the least. On paper, the coming together of two of the time’s biggest names looked a work of evil genius. But the execution fell short - uninspired, pitchy and probably the worst work of either artist to date. It was Lazenby compared to Connery. Dalton compared to Moore. Austin Powers compared to James Bond. Only no one’s laughing - at least, not with them.
Mission: Impossible II (2000): Limp Bizkit - “Take A Look Around”
Gotta admit, being the product of a time when cargo shorts, wallet chains and soul patches were rife on the streets, this one is a little closer to the heart than the others. And it’s a much tighter effort than the attempt from FOB, who never reached the dizzying heights and terrifying lows of Fred Durst and co. Nonetheless, it’s neither timeless nor awe-inspiring for a franchise so popular. Metallica’s song, I Disappear, from the same film though…