The pop music industry and Hollywood have had a fruitful and synergistic relationship for decades, producing memorable songs to both enhance films and raise the profiles of the contributing artists. With the advent of MTV in 1981 and its omnipresence in pop culture throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, the tie-in song and accompanying video became a huge marketing tool for high-profile, spectacle-laden blockbusters. Tracks like Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme, Huey Lewis & The News’ “The Power Of Love,” from Back To The Future, Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger from Rocky III, and countless others helped sell millions of albums, concert tickets, and admissions to the cinemaplex.
But for every classic like “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses for T2: Judgment Day, or “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, there are are countless ear-destroying misfires that have stuck in the collective consciousness for all the wrong reasons. Let’s go ahead and count down the top ten worst in movie history:
10.) “Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid)” – Fall Out Boy ft. Missy Elliott
Coming in at number 10 with a bullet is this aural abomination by the world’s second most-hated band, Fall Out Boy. This wimpy, whiny remix of Ray Parker Jr.’s original (*cough* Huey Lewis might have something to say about that term *cough*) 1984 Ghostbusters theme, with a beyond dated rap at the end by Missy Elliott, isn’t helping to sway the vocal haters, sexists, and man-babies typing vitriolic comments on every social media post related to the all-lady reboot. Neither of these artists have been relevant in nearly a decade, but it doesn’t really matter who Sony drafted to take on this thankless task; it would have been eviscerated instantly, regardless.
9.) “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – Aerosmith
The ’90s gave rise to some horrible things, and among the worst were Diane Warren songs and Michael Bay’s directing career. Warren is the undisputed queen of shlocky, syrupy ballads that are so toothless and unchallenging, they make most Michael Bolton songs sound like Slayer. For Michael Bay’s 1998 explosion orgy Armageddon, Warren was enlisted to craft a love song to sell the lackluster romance between Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler’s characters, so she puked up this glop of auditory high fructose corn syrup for Aerosmith who, by that point in their career, had long been battling irrelevance. They would succumb to this struggle two years later, when they appeared on the Super Bowl halftime show with NSYNC and Britney Spears.
8.) “Take A Look Around” – Limp Bizkit
It sounds unimaginable now, but there was a time when tribal-tatted bros with wallet-chains, baggy JNCO jeans, backwards Yankee caps, and questionable facial hair ruled the radio airwaves, Billboard charts, and MTV video rotations. Rap-metal was all the rage from around 1999-2003, and the lords of lousy rhymes paired with chugging electric guitars and bad DJ scratching were undoubtedly Limp Bizkit. Fred Durst and his merry band of dirtbags unleashed “Take A Look Around” in 2000 for the release of the worst Mission: Impossible sequel (the John Woo one), which also featured a terrible Metallica song in “I Disappear.” These were dark times, indeed.
7.) “(Meet) The Flintstones” – The B-52’s
This reworking of the classic Flintstones cartoon theme song is so awful and humiliating, the blonde chick in the B-52’s didn’t even show up for the video shoot.
6.) “Gotham City” – R. Kelly
Batman movies have a solid track record when it comes to accompanying soundtracks and tie-in music. Prince scored big with fun tracks like “Party Man” and “Bat-Dance” for the 1989 Tim Burton original; there was a great Siouxie & The Banshees track called “Face To Face” in Batman Returns; and Batman Forever had a killer soundtrack that featured Seal’s mega-smash “Kiss From A Rose On The Grave,” and U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me.” However, all the luck ran out—both from a filmmaking and musical standpoint—in 1997 with the release of the worst Batman movie ever made: Batman & Robin. Case in point, the film’s featured single “Gotham City” by the notorious, pre “Trapped In The Closet” R. Kelly, which is just a boring, repetitious song about New York.
5.) “Deepest Bluest” – LL Cool J
If you listen very closely to this Deep Blue Sea tie-in track, you can hear the exact moment where LL Cool J’s rap career ended forever. Also: DEEPEST, BLUEST, MY HAT IS LIKE A SHARK’S FIN!!! Next.
4.) “Wild Wild West” – Will Smith
In 1999, Big Willy Style was at its Big Willy-est, as the Fresh Prince was coming off of two gargantuan hip-hop singles, “Men In Black” and “Gettin’ Jiggy With It.” At the same time, his acting career was nuclear hot after Bad Boys, Men In Black, and Independence Day — earning him the moniker of “The King Of The 4th of July.” Of course, all this popularity instantly went to Smith’s head, and his hubris and unchecked egotism led him to the belief that passing on the Neo role in The Matrix in order to carry a bloated adaptation of ’60s cult TV series Wild Wild West was a good career move.
The movie turned out to be catastrophically awful, getting buried by critics and crushed at the box office by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and the second Austin Powers film. Meanwhile, Will’s Wild Wild West rap anthem, which featured a sample of Steve Wonder’s 1976 hit “I Wish”, fared slightly better than the film, but is now laughably dated. If you want a good chuckle, check out the above performance of the tune at the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, complete with appearances by hip-hop stars lost to the mists of time, like Kool Moe Dee, Dru Hill, and Sisqo in cow-patterned chaps. Even poor Steve Wonder is forced to participate in this narcissistic dog and pony show.
3.) “Hero” – Chad Kroeger ft. Josey Scott
Yes, Chad Kroeger has been assaulting our ears with his brand of thuddingly mediocre, refrigerator hum, trailer-park rock since 2002’s Spider-Man (actually, Nickelback’s major label debut album was released all the way back in 2000!). Apparently Sony thought it would be a great idea to market their $150 million superhero blockbuster to dudes who wore work boots with jorts, proudly displayed Calvin pissing stickers on the back windows of their Ford 150s, watched Nascar, and drank Busch Light by the caseload. Hence the gunge-light anthem “Hero,” which was infused with a double-dose of suckage via the addition of greasy lead singer Josey Scott from the bro-metal band Saliva (you know, the “Click, Click, BOOM!” guys). I can’t tell if the backing band on this rooftop video are supposed to be the dudes from Nickelback, or just some guys from a Fuel cover band they paid to stand around in ball necklaces and flare-legged jeans, but I’m almost positive some grip contracted Hep-C from Josey’s mic stand.
2.) “Addams Family Whoomp” – Tag Team
Hip-hop group Tag Team struck gold in 1993 with their hit “Whoomp There It Is.” The song was so big in fact, that they proceeded to just re-record, remix, and just plain rehash it about 7,000 more times over the course of their career, which ended shortly after this 1994 Addam’s Family Values version. Back in 1991, when the first Addams Family movie hit, the studio shelled out big bucks to MC Hammer (who was the biggest pop star on the planet at the time) and even paid Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, and Anjelica Huston to appear in the music video. Three years later, only Christina Ricci and the kid who played Pugsley showed up in Tag Team’s lazy and embarrassing video, which looks like it was shot at the “haunted house” run by that creepy neighbor down the street who keeps couches on his front lawn and stares at you through the window. “Addams Family Whoomp” is so god-awful, authorities are still investigating whether or not listening to it more than once contributed to the death of Raul Julia.
1.) “Come With Me” – Puff Daddy ft. Jimmy Page
In researching this list, I’ve come to the conclusion that 1997-1999 was an enormous, gaping hellmouth; a confluence of audio diarrhea flowing out of equally execrable Hollywood tentpoles. 1998 was an especially egregious year, as it churned out the #1 worst movie tie-in track in the history of cinema: Puff Daddy’s lethargic, endless, sonically painful “Come With Me” off of the soundtrack for Roland Emmerich’s terrible Godzilla remake.
I can’t decide what’s worse, Puff Daddy’s absolutely criminal desecration of “Kashmir”—one of the greatest, most epic classic rock anthems of all time—or Jimmy Page’s willing participation in said blasphemy. The latter is utterly baffling, as the Led Zeppelin braintrust had been (and still is, to this day) notoriously stingy about allowing their music to appear in films or advertisements. 20th Century Fox must have paid in upwards of seven figures for the “Kashmir” sample, and another six to prop Jimmy Page in front of a green screen so he could pretend to strum his guitar along to someone he had never heard of pulling his pants down to drop a steamy deuce all over one of his greatest musical accomplishments.