Music in the movies: movie karaoke

News Glen Chapman
9 Feb 2010 - 06:11

Should movie casts be allowed to tackle popular songs, wonders Glen?

I was looking through my notes and found a number of these songs, but no heading. I can only assume that my intention was to do a piece on stars singing in the movies, as that was the only common link I could think of. You'll notice that biopics have been excluded from this, another topic for another time. Here are examples of where stars perform karaoke versions or impromptu sing-alongs to a particular song.

Personally, I've never been a fan of performing karaoke (or witnessing it, for that matter) - a combination of a shit voice and shyness, which is hardly a winning combination for karaoke. There have been occasions where, in a rather inebriated state, I've been convinced to do something like Turning Japanese or This Charming Man. The result tends to be me mumbling through what seems like an eternity and dying a little inside.

Despite my personal hatred of karaoke, I am quite partial to hearing actors try their hand at tackling songs in movies though.

Anyway, enough of that nonsense - on to my choices;

The Moldy Peaches, Anyone Else But You  performed by Michael Cera & Ellen Page - Juno

I really like this song. Taken from the anti-folksters' eponymous 2001 debut, it's twee and geeky and not ashamed of it. Ellen Page and Michael Cera's version of this is a great way to end Juno.

Stan Bush, The Touch performed by Mark Wahlberg - Boogie Nights

Marky Mark covering a song from the Transformers animated movie - what's not to like? Absolutely nothing! I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I first watched Boogie Nights In a good way, obviously. It's an amazing song.

The Pixies, Here Comes Your Man performed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt - (500) Days Of Summer

This is a movie I saw recently and thoroughly enjoyed. There's some great music choices throughout the film. Us by Regina Spektor was a great opener. I've opted for Tom's (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) excellent and spirited karaoke version of The Pixies' Here Comes Your Man. His version of The Clash's Train In Vain (Stand By Me) is excellent also, but for different reasons.

Dead or Alive, You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) performed by Adam Sandler - The Wedding Singer

I think this one was in my notes as it was a casualty from my greatest opening songs article. The Wedding Singer is one of the more charming and tolerable of Sandler's movies and it gets off to a great start with this cracking cover of Dead or Alive's 80s pop classic.

Inez and Charlie Foxx, Mocking Bird performed by Jim Carey Jeff Daniels - Dumb And Dumber

Irritating in a brilliant way, I remember being quite young when Dumb And Dumber came out and making my older siblings take me to see it a number of times at the cinema. I think they enjoyed my version of this song on the journey home about as much as Joe Mentalino's Mike Starr enjoyed Lloyd and Harry's version.

Pete Townshend, Let My Love Open The Door performed by Steve Carrell & Dane Cook - Dan In Real Life

I enjoyed Dan in Real Life and thought Steve Carell's performance here is one of his best to date. The scen, in which this song features finds Steve Carell's Dan begrudgingly performing this song with his brother Mitch played by Dane Cook. Dan is on guitar duties with Mitch on vocals, but when Mitch forgets the words, Dan takes over. A good song that I rediscovered as a result of this film.

Aimee Mann, Wise Up performed by various cast members - Magnolia

I really like Magnolia but my fear of frogs makes for an extremely uncomfortable viewing experience during a certain scene. Frog scene aside, though, I can pick no faults at all with the movie. The scene where numerous cast members sing along to Wise Up is excellent and helped no end by the fact that the lyrics fit so well for each of them.

Elton John, Tiny Dancer performed by various cast members - Almost Famous

I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I had no idea what this song was when I first saw Almost Famous. It sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. I'm sure I'd heard it at some point before seeing the movie, but it wasn't a song that was familiar to me. Still, it's a great song and the scene in which this features is perhaps the greatest impromptu sing-along in movie history.  Read more on almost famous here. /movies/401590/looking_back_at_cameron_crowes_almost_famous.html

Original recording by Dick Burnett, Man Of Constant Sorrow traditional song performed byGeorge Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson and Chris Thomas King - O' Brother, Where Art Thou?

I'm a huge fan of this film, the best of the Coen's comedies, in my opinion. This song is performed by George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson and Chris Thomas King twice in the film. It's difficult to pick my favorite of the two scenes, but if I had to go for one, it would be the one in which they make their first recording. The first time I saw the scene, I was blown away by how good it was whilst trying to figure out where I'd heard it before. It was, of course, from Bob Dylan's debut, although numerous versions of the song are in existence. This film was the first time I became aware of the genius of T-Bone Burnett.

Roxy Music, More Than This performed by Bill Murray - Lost In Translation

This could have easily been Murray's version of Elvis Costello's (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding, but I opted for his version of Roxy Music's More Than This. It's a brilliant but sad moment when he performs this in what is possibly the coolest imaginable environment to perform karaoke. Great stuff!

As always, I'm interested to hear your suggestions below.

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