Sunday 31 July 2016

cinematic sunday #1: muriel's wedding, 13 going on 30, the wedding singer

for someone who doesn't want to get married (see: tegan and sara's latest video for BWU), i spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about what i'd wear to my own wedding, and more importantly, what the soundtrack would be, because my fictional wedding would most definitely have to live up to the cinematic standards of classics such as mamma mia. i also love nothing more than watching films about weddings, specifically those that were set in my favourite ever decade for music and aesthetics, the 80s. 

that brings us to today's post, the first in a series where i will discuss my favourite film soundtracks each sunday (read: when i can be bothered to write about them). 

i watched the wedding singer for the first time last week as i'd heard so much about it, and i'm ashamed at myself for not doing this earlier. it has all the components i look for in a film: a great soundtrack, excellent outfits/aesthetics, and of course, a ridiculously predictable story line, which usually involves two straight, white heterosexual lead characters who Fall In Love from the moment they first make eye contact at the start of the film; it's so predictable but i still find myself in tears by the end. 

this film has all the aforementioned qualities i look for; excellent outfits, the most amazing apartment owned by lead character julia (this screenshot really doesn't do it justice, but it's the best i could find) and the most important thing for any cinematic masterpiece; guest appearances from a young steve buscemi and billy idol. i love the excess, the spectacle, the grand gestures of 80s rom-coms; i won't spoil it, but this scene with billy idol is how i want all my romantic relationships to begin. also, if i could travel back in time to any specific place, it would be to an 80s nightclub like the one in this film. 

but of course, the main thing we are here to talk about is the soundtrack. below, i present some of the best songs featured in the wedding singer:

dead or alive - you spin me round (like a record)

the film opens with lead character robbie hart singing this song at a wedding, and it's the perfect kind of song for getting everyone up on the dancefloor. it's the epitome of a guilty pleasure, but i feel no shame when i blast this at full volume whilst Getting Ready To Go Out; an event in itself given how long my make-up routine takes.

the thompson twins - hold me now

this song has always been a favourite of my parents' and they played it to me hoping i'd love it too, but sadly i just didn't think much of it. so when i heard it playing in this film, i was surprised to find myself tapping my foot along to its ridiculously catchy chorus and it's now a firm favourite of mine. (i also think it would make a great karaoke song.)

kajagoogoo/lionel richie - too shy/all night long

despite the huge mistake julia would undoubtedly have made if she married the complete and total arse-wipe that was glenn guglia, she knew how to throw a great engagement party that took place in his huge, all-white-everything mansion and features classic 80s party tracks including all night long and too shy, two songs that are guaranteed to get me on my feet. (side note: the video for all night long is what (my) dreams are made of.)

new order/david bowie - blue monday/china girl

as i mentioned earlier, the club scene in this film is one of my favourite ever things, and though i can't go back in time and visit an 80s club myself, i can live through these songs. i have previously professed my love for david bowie and given my love of mancunian bands, new order are one of my favourites, so it's no surprise they chose one of their best songs for this soundtrack. also the scene where robbie and julia bond over their love of bowie is how any (great) relationship should begin.  

once the credits started to roll, i began thinking about some of my other favourite wedding-themed films. mamma mia was the most obvious one that came to mind (i saw it twice in the cinema and cried both times watching this scene). i have however decided to omit this film from my post, as it would just be me gushing excitedly over every single abba song featured. (side note: i am not even ashamed to admit that i prefer some of the mamma mia versions of abba's songs to the originals. exhibit a; their rendition of dancing queen. seriously, this video should be prescribed by doctors as a substitute for antidepressants. i honestly felt happier after watching this performance on repeat for six months than i did battling the terrible side-effects of citalopram. needless to say, i didn't pick up another prescription.)

the next film that came to mind was another 80s-themed classic, muriel's wedding, which despite the colourful aesthetic, crazy outfits and excellent soundtrack, is actually a rather sad story (tissues are definitely a must). again, i won't spoil it, but muriel finally gets her happy ending despite all the tragedies she has to deal with throughout the film. (all i'll say is that the closing track is dancing queen.) 

and now more importantly, here are my favourite songs from the soundtrack:

the wedding band - (bridal) dancing queen

the film opens with this hauntingly beautiful rendition of - in my opinion - abba's best track, dancing queen, that builds to a euphoric crescendo. if i ever do get married, this will totally be my walking-down-the-aisle song. 

abba - waterloo

one of my favourite parts of this film is when muriel and her friend rhonda perform their own rendition of waterloo at their hotel's talent contest, wigs and all. it also reminds me of this scene in mamma mia, which is everything i would want from a hen party, if i ever have one. in fact, super trouper deserves an honourable mention here (i did warn you that this post would very quickly descend into a complete rundown of all my favourite abba songs, which let's be honest, is all of them. seriously, do abba even have a bad song?).

the tide is high - blondie

for me, this song perfectly encapsulates the hazy, tropical holiday vibe of muriel's wedding, combining a catchy melody with lyrics that sum up muriel's resilience and dedication to finding a man and getting married - the tide is high but i'm holding on / i'm gonna be your number one. also, let us not forget that atomic kitten did an excellent cover of this song (but let's be honest, all their songs are excellent), as well as ladies' night by kool and the gang, which incidentally would make an excellent hen party track, and so deserves a mention in this very wedding-heavy post. 

another song that serves up a tropical vibe in spades is wham!'s 1983 classic, club tropicana. 

let's be real, the video for this could totally have been filmed at the same holiday resort muriel and rhonda stayed at; in my head i'm totally envisioning an alternate universe where they party at the poolside with george michael. come to think of it, why didn't he do a billy idol and make a guest appearance in the film itself? why cruel world? 

the final film, and arguably my favourite out of all the wedding-themed, 80s-set films i know of, is 13 going on 30, probably because the focus isn't solely on The Wedding. in fact, due to the completely ridiculous storyline, questionable (but also kind of amazing) sartorial choices and excellent soundtrack, i actually kind of forget that there even is a wedding in this film (spoiler alert).

it was this film that first introduced me to what would become my all-time favourite party song, detailed below. 

whitney houston - i wanna dance with somebody (who loves me) 

yes, i've written about my love of this song before, but as i said, it was this film which introduced me to it, in the form of what is arguably the most excellent movie montage, and the fact that it isn't included in this list is criminal. if only my getting ready routine was this easy! 

michael jackson - thriller

the scene that occurs next is just as excellent. in an attempt to get everyone up on the dancefloor at a deathly dull and boring party, jenna, and later her best friend/future husband matty, break out into a full performance of the routine to thriller, and it never fails to cheer me up. yes it's highly unlikely that all these people who have never met would just happen to know the full routine, but as it serves its purpose as a moment of cinematic brilliance, who cares? 

billy joel - vienna

when 30-year-old jenna realises her life didn't turn out as great as she'd initially hoped, she does what most of us do when things get too much to bear, and heads back to her childhood home in new jersey. i can't have been more than ten or eleven when i first watched this film, but there was something hauntingly beautiful about this track that stuck with me, and looking at the lyrics now, they seem to perfectly describe exactly how i'm feeling about life, particularly the line slow down, you're doing fine / you can't be everything you want to be before your time.

i seem to want everything to happen right now, while forgetting that i'm not even 21 yet and i have time. after all, beyoncĂ©  wasn't built in a day.

rick springfield - jessie's girl

this truly is the soundtrack that keeps on giving. in the rush to get to matty's house and stop him marrying someone that isn't her, jenna finds herself in a taxi being driven by her school's heartthrob, chris grandy, 17 years after they left school. needless to say, his life hasn't panned out too well, his boyish good looks long gone. rejecting his advances, she makes a quick getaway as rick springfield's infectiously catchy track jessie's girl begins to play, perfectly fitting the theme of wanting somebody you can't have (a feeling i know all too well).

pat benatar - love is a battlefield

the final song, and perhaps the one that best sums up all our complicated feelings towards Love And Marriage, can be heard when jenna invites her neighbour becky and her friends over for a sleepover, and recounts all the details of her relationship with matty, before they spontaneously break out into a rendition of this song, with feather boas and everything. honestly, i just want my whole entire life to be this scene, where me and my friends trash talk all the boys who have ever wronged us in the past (a bit like taylor's #squad (please appreciate the use of an Ironic Hashtag) but a lot less corporate). 

and that concludes this week's edition of cinematic sunday. if i had to sum up why me, a bitter, cynical individual who believes that love is dead (and thus was way more upset about the breakup of soko and kristen stewart than is probably healthy), loves films about weddings so much, it's because they allow me to escape into a fantasy world where the two main characters share a screen-filling final kiss and go on to live a perfect life, without all the complications of actually having to meet anyone in real life and risk rejection. 

also, the music is really fucking good, and i was even kind enough to put all of the songs mentioned above (and a few extras) into a playlist which can be found here

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