Now that we’ve seen what Sony has planned for the sequel to their sometimes controversial portable, the second most important question unanswered remains what to call it? Similar to “Project Natal” and Nintendo’s “Revolution”, “NGP” is just a place holder for whatever the marketing team comes up with. Now, I was not a huge fan of Sony’s last attempt at naming a handheld, the “Go” so I hope those responsible for entitling the system are a little more creative. I believe they shouldn’t just tag it as the "PSP2" even though that has some market recognition, because this new system feels like a huge leap over that platform. And, since the thing will probably cost an arm and a leg, it deserves a name befitting such extravagance. (I kid, I kid)
Here are a few ideas I had:
The Sony Glee
~ I know, it immediately brings to mind FOX’s TV series, but I think it also imparts a feeling of fun. The name is short and memorable, too. “Glee” rhymes with “free” which recalls “freedom”; the freedom to game on the move. Yeah, the first PSP also had a problem with “free”, but that association could work to this new portable’s benefit as well. I’m sure some people will buy it hoping (waiting) for the platform to be jail-broken, so they can build a new library of ill-gotten games.
The Sony Omni
~ The prefix means “all” or “everything” and since Sony’s marketing slogan these days is “It Does Everything”, they could apply it to their latest project. This new system does have many more bells and whistles on it and with the potential to be that portable console experience, everything is an apt description. Also, Omni was once the name of a magazine about technology and science a few decades ago. For some of us, the prefix sounds futuristic.
The Sony Push
~ With multiple tactile sensors in addition to its healthy quota of buttons, the system’s extensive control options should be emphasized to the enthusiast demographic. The word also denotes ambition, advancement and even a bit of aggression. If Sony is going to make a better run at Nintendo as well as Apple, then they need a name with some strength behind it.
Anyway, I’m not sure what the actual name will be. Call me a cynic, but I’m pretty sure it will be something with less flair as anything I’ve mentioned. I’m expecting something disappointing, but perhaps I’ll be surprised. With things looking up, perhaps “Hope” is as good a title as any.
So what do you think? What would you name Sony's latest endeavor into handheld gaming?
ZanzibarBreeze's recent post My favorite 80s Pop songs (and tell us yours too) made me think about what my favorite songs were from that era. So, I decided to list as many as I could using some Billboard charts to jog my memory, songs I have on my Ipod and any other related article I could find on the internet. I had to think back quite a bit to high school, junior high, and even elementary school for the earliest stuff. Now, I didn't like everything on this list the year it was released. I wasn't listening to the Dead Kennedys when I was 10, and honestly, I spent a better part of the 80's complaining about how crappy the music of my generation was. However, I've mellowed with age and can now acknowledge my appreciation for the songs. These days, I associate a lot of them with events of my youth. That's how nostalgia twists our tastes. Anyway, the only rule I had with assembling this list was that no artist could be repeated (solo projects, duets and alternate bands do not count). Also, there might be some run over between 1979 and 1980 as well as 1989 and 1990. In other words some songs may be been released in '79 but still been on the charts in 1980 so I counted them. And, finally, I might add some more as I remember them.
"Games People Play" - Alan Parsons Project 1980
"Brass In Pocket" - Pretenders 1980
"Ride Like the Wind" - Christopher Cross 1980
"Video Killed the Radio Star" - The Buggles 1980
"Modern Girl" - Sheena Easton 1980
"Holiday in Cambodia" - Dead Kennedys 1980
"Girl U Want" - Devo 1980
"Let My Love Open the Door" - Pete Townshend 1980
"Cars" - Gary Numan 1980
"Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" - Rupert Holmes 1980
"Same Old Lang Syne" - Dan Fogelberg 1981
"TV Party" - Black Flag 1981
"Rapture" - Blondie 1981
"Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go" - Soft Cell 1981
"Tempted" - The Squeeze 1981
"While You See A Chance" - Steve Winwood 1981
"Sukiyaki" - Taste of Honey 1981
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" - The Police 1981
"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" - Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty/Heartbreakers 1981
"Eye of the Tiger" - Survivor 1982
"Who Can it Be Now" - Men at Work 1982
"Heat of the Moment" - Asia 1982
"Private Eyes" - Hall & Oates 1982
"Gypsy" - Fleetwood Mac 1982
"Caught Up in You - .38 Special 1982
"Wasted on the Way" - Crosby Stills and Nash 1982
"I Ran" Flock of Seagulls 1982
"Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey 1982
"Get Down On it" - Kool & the Gang 1982
"Empty Garden" - Elton John 1982
"Working for the Weekend" - Loverboy 1982
"Vacation" - The Go-Gos 1982
"I Love Rock & Roll" - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts 1982
"Billie Jean" Michael Jackson 1983
"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" - Eurythmics 1983
"Come on Eileen" - Dexy's Midnight Runners 1983
"Relax" - Frankie Goes to Hollywood 1983
"Hungry Like the Wolf" - Duran Duran 1983
"One Thing Leads to Another" - The Fixx 1983
"In a Big Country" - Big Country 1983
"Electric Avenue" - Eddy Grant 1983
"I Know There's Something Going On" - Frida 1983
"Blister in the Sun" - Violent Femmes 1983
"She Blinded Me with Science" - Thomas Dolby 1983
"Der Kommissar" - After the Fire 1983
"Cruel Summer" - Bananarama 1983
"(Keep Feeling) Fascination" - Human League 1983
"Time (Clock of the Heart)" - Culture Club 1983
"The Safety Dance" - Men Without Hats 1983
"Always Something There to Remind Me" - Naked Eyes 1983
"Goody Two Shoes" - Adam Ant 1983
"Rock the Casbah" - The Clash 1983
"Our House" - Madness 1983
"Steppin' Out" - Joe Jackson 1983
"Lawyers in Love" - Jackson Browne 1983
"Illegal Alien" - Genesis 1983
"Pass the Dutchie" - Musical Youth 1983
"When the Shit Hits the Fan" - Circle Jerks 1983
"Photograph" - Def Leppard 1983
"True" - Spandau Ballet 1983
"Modern Love" - David Bowie 1983
"Dancing in the Dark" - Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 1984
"Time After Time" - Cyndi Lauper 1984
"Break My Stride" - Matthew Wilder 1984
"Mr. Telephone Man" - New Edition 1984
"Beat Box" - Art of Noise 1984
"Bad" U2 - 1984
"Legs" - ZZ Top 1984
"99 Luftballons" - Nena 1984
"The Glamorous Life" - Sheila E. 1984
"Tenderness" - General Public 1984
"You Take Me Up" - Thompson Twins 1984
"Leave it" - Yes 1984
"Forever Young" - Alphaville 1984
"Let the Music Play" - Shannon 1984
"Love is a Battlefield" Pat Bennatar 1984
"If This is It" Huey Lewis and the News 1984
"Drive" - Cars 1984
"They Don't Know" Tracy Ullman 1984
"Don't Come Around Here No More"" - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers 1985
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" - Tears For Fears 1985
"Crazy for You" - Madonna 1985
"Dead Man's Party" - Oingo Boingo 1985
"Take On Me" - A-Ha 1985
"Easy Lover" - Phil Collins and Philip Bailey 1985
"We Built This City" - Starship 1985
"Oh Sheila" - Ready For The World 1985
"Don't You (Forget About Me)" - Simple Minds 1985
"Things Can Only Get Better" - Howard Jones 1985
"How Soon is Now" - The Smiths 1985
"Cannonball" - Supertramp 1985
"Obsession" - Animotion 1985
"Voices Carry" - 'Til Tuesday 1985
"Makes No Sense At All" - Hüsker Dü 1985
"Smooth Operator" - Sade 1985
"The Boys of Summer" - Don Henley 1985
"Summer of '69" - Bryan Adams 1985
"Walking On Sunshine" - Katrina and The Waves 1985
"Home Sweet Home" - Mötley Crüe 1985
"Freedom" - Wham! 1985
"Walk of Life" - Dire Straits 1986
"I Miss You" - Klymaxx 1986
"The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" - Timbuk3 1986
"Party All The Time" - Eddie Murphy 1986
"Glory of Love" - Peter Cetera 1986
"Dreams" - Van Halen 1986
"Go West" - Pet Shop Boys
"I Can't Wait" - Nu Shooz 1986
"When the Going Gets Tough" - Billy Ocean 1986
"Something About You" - Level 42 1986
"Let's Go All the Way" - Sly Fox 1986
"Manic Monday" - Bangles 1986
"If You Leave" - OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark) 1986
"We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" - Jermaine Stewart 1986
"Word Up" - Cameo 1986
"Life In A Northern Town" - Dream Academy 1986
"Take Me Home" - Phil Collins 1986
"Sweet Love" - Anita Baker 1986
"The Final Countdown" - Europe 1986
"Dreamtime" - Daryl Hall 1986
"C'est la vie" - Robbie Nevil 1987
"Don't Dream it's Over" Crowded House 1987
"True Faith" - New Order 1987
"Heart and Soul" T'pau 1987
"Dear God" - XTC 1987
"Mediate/Need You Tonight" INXS 1987
"Keep Your Hands to Yourself" - Georgia Satellites 1987
"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" - Aretha Franklin and George Michael 1987
"Little Fury Things" - Dinosaur Jr. 1987
"You Got it All" - The Jets 1987
"Lips Like Sugar" Echo & the Bunnymen 1987
"Luka" - Suzanne Vega 1987
"The Passenger" - Siouxsie and the Banshees 1987
"I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" - Prince & the Revolution 1987
"Come Go With Me" - Expose 1987
"Breakout" - Swing Out Sister 1987
"Tunnel of Love" - Bruce Springsteen 1987
"Sweet Child of Mine" - Guns N' Roses 1988
"Tell it to My Heart" - Taylor Dayne 1988
"Never Gonna Give You Up" Rick Astley 1988
"Fast Car" Tracy Chapman 1988
"Paid in Full" - Eric B. & Rakim 1988
"Don't Believe the Hype" Public Enemy 1988
"Straight Out of Compton" - NWA 1988
"Mountain Song" - Jane's Addiction 1988
"What I Am" Edie Brickell & New Bohemians 1988
"Orange Crush" - REM 1988
"Teenage Riot" - Sonic Youth 1988
"Englishman in New York" - Sting 1988
"Straight Up" - Paula Abdul 1989
"Just a Friend" - Biz Markie 1989
"Every Little Step" - Bobby Brown 1989
"Toy Soliders" - Martika 1989
"Miss You Much" - Janet Jackson 1989
"Buffalo Stance" - Nenah Cherry 1989
"Monkey Gone to Heaven" - Pixies 1989
"Higher Ground" - Red Hot Chili Peppers 1989
"Head Like a Hole" - Nine Inch Nails 1989
"Fascination Street" - The Cure 1989
"Edie (Ciao Baby)" - The Cult 1989
"Bust a Move" - Young M.C. 1989
"So Alive" Love & Rockets 1989
"Trouble Me" - 10,000 Maniacs 1989
"Deadbeat Club" - B-52's 1989
"Coast to Coast" Jesus and Mary Chain 1989
"Personal Jesus" - Depeche Mode 1989
I'm not going to bother posting this to any other forum, since there really isn't much to say than "here it is".
I think what interested me most from the 3 conferences during this year's E3 presented so far is the number of games that require actual physical activity to play them. These games go beyond the wrist-flicking and simple wave of a hand required by your average Wii game.
EA Sports Active 2 will be available on all three consoles for all of the current and forthcoming motion controls. Ubisoft is pushing their yoga game again and like EA's will be playable on the 360 and PS3 this fall. They followed the Your Shape yoga focused presentation with a demo for a new game called Innergy. It uses a peripheral described as an “energy sensor” which bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo's Wii-Vitality sensor. This bio-feedback game is about controlling your breathing and setting your mind into a calm state to direct a dot through a Technicolor psychedelic maze. The most bizarre game however appeared to be a mix of real world Laser Tag with console or PC recorded stats and leader boards called Battle-Tag. I guess the company hopes you'll buy this game then go outside and play a game of Laser Tag complete with fake guns and hit-sensor embedded chest pads. Finally, in this list of Jack Lalanne inspired products there was the motion controller, Kinect from Microsoft which had presenters running frantically in place, rolling around on the ground and dancing with the same frenzy of energy normally reserved for Britney Spears’ videos.
Today, Sony and Nintendo will show their line up and I firmly expect to see more games in this growing health and wellness genre propelled by the success of Wii-Fit. Since Sony will be introducing their Move motion controller and Nintendo will likely be showcasing last year's enigma, the Vitality sensor, I expect to see more exercise games, more yoga games and more Today Show friendly games for Meredith Vieira to stumble over on morning television.
In a study conducted by the University of Essex on professional video game athletes, they found that while their reflexes are on par with those of military fighter pilots, they also have bodies as comparably unhealthy as those of 60-year old chain smokers. Perhaps this expanding genre will address that finding. Certainly, across America, the amount of fitness and extracurricular activities offered by public school systems is less than what is was 20 years ago, but are video games really expected to bridge that gap? And, are game publisher's actions earnest about this trend or is their focus actually on winning over Moms and other non-gaming members of the household? Do any of these new wellness games appeal to gaming enthusiasts? Perhaps I have become jaded in my old age, but the more I see of these games, the stronger I believe they are (A) an insult to the overall gaming population, (B) a money-grab for the casual market place and (C) a sign of desperation by publishers to expand outside (and away) from the 'core game enthusiast.
I saw this on Collider.com and thought I'd share it here. It an impromptu (well, for the library visitors at least) scene from the first Ghostbusters movie. Ghostbusters Return to the New York Public Library is the article title in case you want to read the particulars. This qualifies as "YouTube spam", so I am keeping this off the main boards.
Jeff Gerstmann’s article Maybe We Should Start Issuing More Press Releases and Chris Scullion of Official Nintendo Magazine’s reply highlights a persistent concern within games journalism: objectivity and the perceived lack there of. Video games are part of the enthusiast press and like Cat Fancy or 4-Wheeler; coverage is marketed towards a specific group interested in the subject matter. In fact, the audience’s passion for the material is stronger than that of general public’s because the average person wouldn’t devote as much time or money following the news on a single activity. For them, the entertainment section of USA Today is enough. But, serious hobbyists need to know more and so the enthusiast press was born.
Established members of the games press often don’t like to refer to themselves as “journalists”. Sometimes they conclude that what they do is different than what someone who works for the Washington Post does in reporting the news from the war in Afghanistan or what the White House is proposing on any given piece of legislation. But, how different is it really? Games publications receive press notices every day from game makers, they are invited to game events by studios, and schedule interviews with game representatives who repeat the official mantra of their company. Writers for Newsweek or the New York Times read government authorized press releases, they attend Pentagon and White House press briefings, and schedule interviews with administrators who repeat the party’s official position on the story. Critics might call it lazy journalism, but it’s also how the majority of what we see and read reaches us. This is probably the reason why investigative journalism, as rare and unpredictable as it is, receives such merit when it breaks a story. Patrick Klepek’s Activision-Bungie story may have just been having a few friends in the right places, but it was enough to get the gaming community buzzing for a couple of days.
The issue with the game press and objectivity stems from the relationships between the writers, editors, publishers and the companies who make games. It comes down to two key elements: access and advertising. Sites like Giant Bomb and magazines like Official Nintendo Magazine require access granted by game publishers. If Square-Enix doesn’t want to talk to Brad, then Giant Bomb doesn’t get to cover whatever’s new about their latest game. Now, it is probably in their best interest to allow Brad access, because every article he writes about Final Fantasy XIII is less money they have to spend on advertising, but how much they say to him, how much actual “news” is provided, can vary based on the relationships between Giant Bomb and Square-Enix. There are always lingering questions regarding the care needed to maintain these positive relationships. We don’t usually see hard interviews challenging the corporate representative for decisions made in a game’s creation. Follow-up reports and counterpoints are rare even in the mainstream press, and so negligence in the enthusiast press goes unquestioned. When a site relies on having access to supply their viewers with news, upsetting those connections by being “too tough” endangers their future ability to do business. So readers are sometimes left with doubts.
The second element is advertising. Anyone who regularly visits Giant Bomb is probably aware of the incident at Gamespot which led to Jeff Gerstmann leaving the website. What it comes down to is “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Within the enthusiast press, the majority of the advertising revenue received by websites and magazines is related to the subject matter they cover. A quick perusal of Import Tuner Magazine will reveal not only coverage of the latest cars and after-market parts, but advertisements for those cars and parts. The same is true in the video games press. 1Up.com reviews Mass Effect 2 and GameVideos.com (a 1Up site) inserts ads for Mass Effect 2 before each video they upload to visitors. Logically, if 1Up wants to receive EA’s advertising dollars, it shouldn’t be overly critical of any of their games. If EA sells a lot of games thanks to good press from 1Up, then they will continue to advertise on their site. And, if EA feels that any of their products have suffered due to negativity present in 1Up’s reporting, then they will scale back the amount of money they direct though their advertising department. Of course, every big game company always has a new game on the horizon, so the balance of give and take can be delicate. And, most editors will tell readers that they receive no pressure from their sales divisions, but doubts sometimes remain.
There is a third element regarding objectivity which appears to be unique among the video game enthusiast press. That is occupational advancement and the friendships forged between journalists and game makers. I don’t know how many people go from writing about ’s Detroit's latest automobiles to designing the next year’s models, but it seems to happen a lot in the games industry. Alex Navarro went to Harmonix, Jeff Green went to EA, Luke Smith went to Bungie, Shane Bettenhausen went to Ignition, and David Ellis went to Microsoft’s 343 Industries, and so on and so forth… It wouldn’t be out of line to see games journalism as just a stepping stone to greater opportunities in video game creation, and, so an enterprising young reporter might due well to temper his passions and look to the future when writing difficult stories. Besides, do you really want your buddy who you used to eat lunch with reading a post on your website describing his latest project as lackluster and mediocre? That’s going to make future meetings awkward.
These are just a few of the problems that face game journalists and the audience’s perception of their trustworthiness. “It’s not personal, it’s business” is an adage that works in theory, but how difficult is it to maintain that separation when dealing with friends? And, what happens when it is all about the business of positive coverage equaling greater advertising revenue? I’m not convinced that any news agency that relies on their subject to supply them with access can be truly objective because of that dependency. If Capcom invites a writer to on their dime and the reporter accepts, how much influence has Capcom applied to shaping their impressions? If the journalist doesn’t accept, then they might not be able to go, and so someone else gets that story. Viewers visit the website with the story and greater traffic means more money in the end. How much is integrity worth if it ultimately jeopardizes your ability to work?
After commenting in Raven_Sword's Best Dancer? thread I started refreshing my memory of Eleanor Powell's performances on film. It's been a while since I've seen her stuff, but I remembered that I was completely blown away back when I was first discovering it. Ginger Rogers and Ruby Keeler were probably more famous, but Powell was the best. She was as good Astaire and Kelly maybe even better. Sadly, she had a pretty brief career in Hollywood. Only about 10 years of work equaling about 10 films although she had some appearances in later years. Anyway, I found this on YouTube and decided to share it. It starts off with Woody Herman's jazz orchestra and a chorus girl number that is remarkable (and painful if the dancers were men), but then at 3:35 in Powell enters and well... she dances with a horse. I missed this movie years ago but I'm going to have to keep an eye out for it now on TCM.
I'm not sending this to the public forums since it's basically YouTube spam, but I thought it was too cool to keep to myself. It's not the best example of her talent, but it's just a phenomenal and curious performance.
While meandering around the web this morning, hitting all my usual haunts, I saw this article on Kotaku featuring the work of a meticulous Deviant Artist, shadow502t. It is supposed to feature some 425 characters from 375 games. The question asked, how many can you recognize?
When I first looked at the collage, I was overwhelmed by the collection, but when I started to go through it slowly, I surprised myself by the number of games and characters I recognized. I admit I was not all that good at naming each individual character. Much like in reality, I am pretty bad with names, however, in many cases, I could associate a mystery character with a game. For example, I don’t remember the name of the girl from Wet, but I know her when I see her.
It’s interesting just how much of this useless information I knew. I wondered if I would fair as well in other genres. At one time, I probably could name a lot of comic book characters, and maybe still today I’d do okay with movie icons, but I can’t be sure if any of this is a positive or not. It’s not that I am ashamed of my game knowledge and who am I kidding, given the chance, I’d still rather play Dead or Alive then learn something useful. This makes me wonder further about how I prioritize my capabilities. It’s not something new and not the first time I’ve asked these questions, but every so often I need to feel a little guilty.
Over time, I recognize that if I had spent the time I’ve played games on more productive pursuits, I might be able to speak Japanese, play piano, or fix my own car. Then there are the altruistic pastimes that could have been accomplished more fully. Volunteer work to better enable those with less than myself. Oy vey, when I think too much about it I am somewhat ashamed. On reflection, how I allocate my free time can be selfish. But, this is all hypothetically squandered potential. In reality, if I had never discovered gaming, never allotted so much of my entertainment time to those digital experiences, I probably would have found something equally wasteful as substitute. I guess it comes down to how much of a better person I actually would be and how much I wish I could be.
So how many character/games can you name and how does that make you feel? EDIT: Sorry about the first image posting, I hope this is better.
Nostalgia plays a big part when avid gamers begin discussing their favorites. But, of course that means that our opinions are potentially corrupted by our own memories. What appealed to us as children might not be as much fun as adults, or what we were willing to excuse in our youth might be unacceptable now that we’ve grown. As we age, our views change due to increased experience. When I was much younger I sunk quarter after quarter into the arcade machines of the day without hesitation. Just 5 minutes of playtime was enough to keep me coming back as long as there was change in my pocket and batteries in my Walkman. And, yet when I look at Microsoft’s Game Room, I’ve no desire to spend even $3 for the (mostly) same experience I had as a child. Some of that saddens me. I’m not upset that Microsoft might not get that bit of my money (they get plenty already), however I wish I could recapture the joy I received from discovering those new games again.
Now, let’s make one thing clear. I have no desire to go back in time and relive the 80’s again. There will be no Hot Tub portal in my future if offered. But, I wouldn’t mind reliving those initial experiences again as if they were fresh. The problem is I’m also unwilling to abandon all that I’ve learned since the arcade scene was (semi) relevant. I know what I like these days and it’s taken me a long time to get here. I’ve sampled and satisfied my game cravings with a lot of different genres over the years and while many, many have been worthwhile; I can’t say that about all of them. But, it’s been a learning experience and that has made me a more prudent gamer today.
So, maybe the whole idea is moot in the end. In order to relive those fresh discoveries and enjoy them again with the same elation, I’d have to regress back to my naïve and impressionable youth. Does this mean that all of those games wouldn’t hold up today? That’s a good question and one I am not sure I’d like to know the answer to. But, if Lunaca Inc. could perform some pinpoint memory reconstruction and I could eliminate just one game experience from my past I’d choose to relive Strider (coin-op) for the first time again. Honestly, I am not sure that I’d find the game as engaging these days as I did in the late 80’s, but I am curious to see what I would think of it with two decades of additional life behind me.
What about you? What one game would you choose to have eliminated from your memory either to relive again or just because it was so awful the first time?
There's really not much to say other than...Wow, just wow. I admit I shop at Wal-Mart on occasion, however I don't think I've ever seen anything as disturbing (and humorous) as some of the photos displayed on this site. I have seen some odd things myself at Wal-Mart and maybe even one of two sights which had me turn away momentarily, but nothing to rival the "individuality" pictured here.
I was trying to figure out how to post some images here and not feel I am being cruel, but there is no way around it in this case. If you are interested in seeing the decline and fall of Western civilization, then check out a few below and then travel to the site for more...self-expression.
I only went through the first 100 of 186 posted pages.
I like musicals. I admit it. There is something about the ridiculous spontaneity of unfamiliar people suddenly bursting into dance that I find charming. The music swells as if from the ether then BAM, the actors turn to the camera full of song. It’s amazing, joyous and it could only happen in the worlds of theater and film.
Since sound made its way into cinema, musicals have been a staple of the medium. For decades it was customary for every Broadway musical to find its way onto film so that the general public living outside of the major metropolitan areas could enjoy the production as well. 42nd Street, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, Grease are but a few of the noteworthy stage shows adapted by Hollywood. But, something happened in the 70s that brought fewer and fewer movie musicals to local theaters. Maybe it was the change in popular music, or maybe the movie going public cynical from the turbulence of Vietnam and Watergate just couldn’t accept the fantasy anymore. For whatever reason, the number of traditional musicals being filmed plummeted. For years, Disney animation carried the torch, and while exceptional in their own right, they really weren’t the same as live actors and actresses singing and dancing in unison. To be fair, there were attempts to rejuvenate the genre. Footloose found some success but others like Little Shop of Horrors while critically praised, received only mediocre returns. Anyone remember Christian Bale’s pre-Batman jamboree, Newsies?
This didn’t mean that the magic of musicals completely disappeared from film-making, though. For a generation now focused on MTV, 1980’s Hollywood took the 3 minute music video and modified it to “short attention span theater.” Directors, eager to experiment with the genre, began to incorporate full blown production numbers into movies seemingly far removed from the Broadway standard. Song and dance sequences as excessive as those captured on film decades earlier popped up in comedies, romances and even action movies, and then WHOOSH the film returned to its typical format.
So, here are a handful of my favorite movie musical moments from non-musical movies. These segments are memorable not only for the quality of the number but also for the surprise they evoked from the audience. The films listed below are not in any particular order. All links lead to YouTube examples.
Love Actually (2003) ~ Hugh Grant gets his groove on to 1984's "Jump" by the Pointer Sisters within 10 Downing Street to the bemusement of the Prime Minister's staff.
Tropic Thunder (2008) ~ As the credits role by at the end of this action-comedy, much to our surprise, Tom Cruise shakes his moneymaker like he hasn't since 1983's Risky Business. Heads up!
500 Days of Summer (2009) ~ Ah, love and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in deep in this romantic comedy. So much so that the whole world seems to celebrate with him to the melody of this Hall & Oates classic.
Enchanted (2007) ~ Patrick Dempsey reacts to the implausibility of Amy Adams impromptu dance sequence in New York's Central Park. An homage to the Disney animated films, this scene perfectly captures the magic of those movies.
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) ~ Rupert Evert plants the seed of jealousy in Dermot Mulroney's heart as he serenades Julia Roberts to the tune of 1967's "I Say a Little Prayer for You". First the wedding party joins in then the entire restaurant lends their voice in song.
Monty Python's The Life of Brian (1979) ~ Crucifixion can put a real kink in your day, but Eric Idol reminds us that if we stay positive, things won't seem quite so hopeless.
Clerks II (2006) ~ Rosario Dawson teaches Brian O' Halloran to dance and in classic musical protocol, everyone in the area joins the dance. The Jackson 5's "ABC" is the song which inspires this improvisational jubilee.
Now, I didn't include the catastrophe that appeared in 2007's Spiderman 3 because, well, sometimes this musical film convention doesn't work within the property.