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RAP PARTY: The Songs of Summer

With Labor Day behind us, the summer movie season has come to a close and the studios are either counting their coins or licking their wounds.

Tentpoles were planted and they had their chance to fly high, or become a cautionary tale for future endeavors.

Either way, many will go forgotten until DVD release, or if a nostalgic writer decides to unearth them for writing fodder.

Back in the ‘80s or ‘90s, a good big-budget action-packed comedy or slasher pic would live on well into the fall thanks to an accompanying hit song. Will Smith built much of his career on this phenomenon.

For a good, long stretch, it seemed almost impossible to release a high-adrenaline summertime romp without a rap song that shared its title. Or a single that featured a video was primarily made up of out-of-context clips from the movie.

How else were moviegoers going to know how fun Wild, Wild West was going to be?

In homage to the days of past, here is a look at a few of the forgotten songs-from-the-movies of summer.

An innocent time when artists like LL Cool J could sing with a straight face: “Getting the lap dance while I smash through your boat.”

“City of Crime” from Dragnet (1987)

One day, when Tom Hanks wins another Oscar, someone out there needs to play this song as he makes his way up to the podium.

Hanks and Dan Aykroyd rapping in character about preserving the peace in the single that was released to promote the big-screen version of Dragnet.
It was a dark time for American hip-hop, with both this and the “Rappin’” Rodney Dangerfield album dropping at the same time. Luckily, we were able to pull together as a nation and get through it…together.

“On Our Own” from Ghostbusters II (1989)

I’m just going to get this out of the way now: This is not a bad song.

In fact, it’s a pretty good song. Bobby Brown was huge at the time, so scoring the former New Edition-er was a pretty big coup for the sequel.

The video itself featured many, many clips of the movie that would randomly appear around New York, shocking locals.

The video also featured a ton of stars that had no association with the movie, such as Daryl Hannah, Victoria Jackson and The Ramones, who inexplicably play the tuba.

“Addams Groove” from The Addams Family (1991)
“Addams Family (Whoomp)” from Addams Family Values (1993)

Continuing the trend for pairing a summer movie with a hit single, the “Addams Family” set of singles are probably the most offensive and the worse of the lot as far as throwaway hip-hop tie-ins are concerned.

Clearly the movie would have benefited from a dark, more melodic tune, but alas, we’re stuck with terrible, terrible jams that do not match their far superior source material.

The real sin is that this happened twice! First with MC Hammer’s “Addams Groove,” a song he clearly wrote while on the drive over the studio.

Then again with Tag Team’s “Addam Family (Whoomp),” a sub-standard parody song that barely replaces the lyrics of their previous hit “Whoop (There It Is).”

“Ninja Rap” from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze

So, I’m cheating here. This technically isn’t a summer movie. It was released at the end of March, but how could I not talk about Vanilla Ice’s contribution to society with the awesomely bad “Ninja Rap?”

It’s important to mention that TMNT II was the terrible sequel to the fun-filled kids movie that had already sunk the hopes and dreams of Turtle fans everywhere. With its lack of cool fight scenes, cheap effects and terrible dialogue, it’s apparent that the pic was a rushed effort. And adding Vanilla Ice to the affair was just the cherry on top.

Many will forever be haunted by the five simple words: “Go ninja, go ninja, go!”

“The Riddler” from Batman Forever (1995)

It was in 1995 that the Wu Tang Clan’s Method Man decided one day that hell, why can’t he have a beach house too? And thus, “The Riddler” was born.

Produced by RZA, the song only as hit high as #56 on the Billboard Charts before it dissipated into pop culture, obscured by Method Man’s other, better, more relevant songs.

“Men In Black” from Men In Black (1997)
“Wild, Wild West” from Wild, Wild West (1999)
“Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” from Men In Black II (2002)

If summer tie-in hip-hop songs had a king, it would be Will Smith.

Sampling “Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushen, Smith’s “Men In Black” was his first solo single and a huge, huge hit. Not only did the tune rule the roost on the Billboard charts, but it went on to win a Grammy for Smith, turning him into a bonafide superstar.

“Wild, Wild West” was also a hit for Smith, hitting #1 on the Billboard charts, even though the movie itself left much to be desired.

By “Black Suits Comin’,” it seemed Smith began to falter, as the song peaked at #77 on the charts, but did find success overseas as it placed #3 on the Brit charts.

Come back next week when we take a gander at Rap Party: Songs to Slash Throats To…

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