There are classic ‘80s end credits songs, and then there are most of them. Some people like to sit in the theatre until the final studio logo, but the following – with the honourable exception of the Ramones – seem almost as if they were designed to clear a cinema as fast as possible (which seems particularly unkind to the staff who had to endure them as they cleared up the spilled popcorn). Songs of peace and love for violent action movies; dayglo anthems for forgotten musical farragos; attempted hit singles by cast members who should know better; terrible rhymes; and many strange things happening to people’s hearts: all are in store for those of you who can get beyond page one. Warning: severe danger of unwanted earworms.
Peace in Our Life by Frank Stallone
First Blood’s It’s a Long Road made sense in context and was at least tolerable. The sequel however, opts to let the credits roll with Frank Stallone and this sentimental, earnest, patriotic slice of ham. “Peace is the virtue / Never Forget,” emotes Frank, apparently oblivious to the fact that his older brother was burning Vietnam to the ground five minutes ago.
Dream Warriors by Dokken
Elm Street fans – mistaken ones – will tell you that Part 3 is one of the better entries in the series, but few will talk about its end credits anthem with anything other than horrorstruck wonder – which is sort of appropriate, we guess. There’s at least a kind of dream logic to “I’m standing in the night alone / Forever together.” Er, what? Unfortunately for Dokken, Chris Nolan opted not to reprise this for Inception.
We Fight For Love by Power Station
We imagine this isn’t intended to be slyly, satirically homoerotic. But what we nevertheless recommend is that you imagine Bennett and Matrix singing the lyrics to one another. “I am a mountain / Surrounded by your love / You are a mountain that dreams are made of,” sings Matrix. “Blow my world apart / Between the light and the endless night / You will always be in my heart,” replies Bennett. Telling ya, not a dry eye in the house.
City Of Crime by Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks
This film had a perfectly serviceable Art of Noise theme, but somewhere along the line somebody decided a good idea for the end credits would be Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks rapping. They were wrong about that, except in the sense that it’s a fascinating cultural peek at the 1980s.
Fight To Survive by Stan Bush
“My heart’s on fire / I’m gonna push it over the wire,” Stan Bush here informs us. This, presumably, is why he FIGHTS TO SURVIIIIIVE, but on this evidence it’s his own fault. Nowhere in the Oxford Textbook of Medicine’s 6000 pages does it mention any sort of wire-pushing as a treatment for pulmonary conflagrations. “Kumite” means “grappling hands”. “Wringing” is probably more apposite.
He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask) by Alice Cooper
We love Alice Cooper, we really do. Alice, with the band and solo, was untouchable for the first half of the ‘70s, and he’s been a pretty credible metal elder statesman since the mid ’90s. But there’s a rough period in the middle there. This song about Jason Voorhees tells us that, “He’s back… and he crawled out of his hole… and he’s out of control!” The killing machine’s obviously still pissed that he got beat by Cory Feldman two movies ago.
Lethal Weapon by The Honeymoon Suite
Christ, what can we say? It’s a sad truth that, awesome as the Lethal Weapon films are, they contain crimes against music. It starts early, but even if you can take the Riggs guitar and the Murtaugh sax, there’s still this to come. It’s all going so well as Riggs turns up at Murtaugh’s for Christmas and the film closes with Elvis on the soundtrack… but then fade to black and there’s this balls about how “even love can become a lethal weapon.” “Killing you / that’s the last thing love ever meant to do…” It’s what Riggs meant to do though; he killed five times as many people as Mr Joshua. We counted.
Spies Like Us by Paul McCartney
McCartney wrote a decent Bond theme in 1973, but the muse stubbornly refused to visit him again twelve years later for this Aykroyd/Chase road movie. “Ooh, ooh, whadda you do? / No one else can dance like you / So what’s all the fuss? / Ain’t nobody got spies like us.” The man wrote Eleanor Rigby. What the fuck was the matter with him?
Megaforce by 707
The hoary Michigan rockers throw themselves heart and soul into this, perfectly complementing the exuberant crapness of Hal Needham’s Mad Max knock-off. “I’m coming on like a megaforce,” is the amusing hook. It’s a hard heart that wouldn’t be slightly excited by that.
Restless Heart by John Parr
Parr’s anthemic St Elmo’s Fire was one thing, but this… “No more lonely nights with a restless heart,” is the first line of the chorus, leading to immediate questions about the relevance of Parr’s power ballad to an uber-violent Arnie film about a murderous gameshow. But wait! “I’m gonna lose this restless heart / Running away with you.” There it is.
Xanadu by Olivia Newton John and ELO
If Samuel Taylor Coleridge had had any inkling of this prog-pop horror in 1797, he’d have been on the doorstep insisting the man from Porlock come in for a chat. “It takes your breath and it’ll leave you blind,” is the unsavoury promise. Beware! Beware! Weave a circle round it thrice and close your eyes in holy dread.
Pet Sematary by The Ramones
We hesitate to include this, since it’s by no means a terrible song. It’s the bloody Ramones! But what’s bizarre is its inclusion at the end of one of the bleakest horror movies of the decade. We’ve seen small children killed, been witness to genuinely horrific flashback nightmares, and the film, shall we say, does not end in a happy place. Then we leave the theatre or switch off the video to this cheery slice of gabba-gabba-hey. On the up side though, it’s a bit of a relief.
Christmas Vacation by Mavis Staples
No disrespect to veteran soul singer Staples, but this is just a witless list of Christmas clichés backed by ‘80s synthesizers of the purest evil. And they play it bloody twice. “Hear that sleigh / Santa’s on his way / Hip hip hooray.” Pass the AK.
Murphy’s Law by Kathleen Wilhoitte
A movie about a post-Death Wish Charles Bronson killing people clearly needed a sleazy jazz theme about the law of sod buggering up your day. Its list of things that can go wrong inevitably doing so kind of anticipates Alanis Morissette’s Ironic, but this at least understands its own concept. “It could happen to you,” we’re informed. “You’d better know what to do,” we’re advised. Cheers for that.
Hearts On Fire by John Cafferty
We’ll finish as we started with Stallone, but this time Frank was still weeping in his graveyard so here we have John Cafferty, sadly minus his Beaver Brown Band. Rocky III was a hard act to follow – beauty truly is in the Eye of the Tiger – so the Sly vs. Dolph pummelfest that is Part IV ended up with… this. What is it with these ‘80s guys and their hearts? “The cave that holds you captive has no doors… Things that give deep passion are your sword…” John Cafferty: he’s like Plato crossed with Yoda.