Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's Gonna Take A Montage

Ever since I was on a sweet little TV show with the word 'Beach' in the title, regular exercise has been a part of my life. It's pretty key to the whole actor lifestyle, since your body is your instrument and your 'look' is of prime importance. I also came out of the womb with high cholesterol, so keeping the ol' ticker in shape is mandatory. That being said, I'm pretty lazy. I'm the kinda guy that needs motivation during a workout, because running on a treadmill just isn't enough fun on it's own. I mean, staring at a wall and being alone with my own tortured thoughts is great, but it's a lot more fun to pretend I'm in the middle of a mid-eighties action/adventure/sports movie training montage.

Hence the music I more often than not listen to while running and/or repeatedly lifting heavy things.

I don't exclusively listen to pop-rock soundtracks produced between the years 1979 and 1991 whilst jogging, but when I do it's a freakin' blast. So, I thought I'd share some of my favourite synth-and-chinups tracks with my readers today - specifically those that might not be immediately recognized. Everybody knows Eye of the Tiger and You're The Best Around, but not as many people know Thunder In Your Heart from the soundtrack to the classic 1986 BMX film Rad.

Well, I say classic. I've never actually seen Rad. I've technically only ever seen the end credits of Rad because the copy of The Princess Bride I watched over and over again as a kid was taped off Superchannel, and Rad happened to be the movie on right before. As I was a little kid I for some reason always thought there was just a weird short film of hip teens doing wheelies at the beginning of The Princess Bride. My childhood confusion aside, Thunder In Your Heart is a fantastic addition to the Training Montage genre from dreamy Australian pop sensation John Farnham, who also sang You're The Voice. That chestnut is also pretty epic for workin' out too - replete with soaring bagpipes. It's like the wind really is whipping through my blonde mullet with this tune on in my headphones.

 On a similar note, Night Ranger's The Secret of My Success (1987) from the Michael J. Fox movie of the same name is exceedingly rad. I'd never even heard of this movie until a couple years ago, and it's actually kind of amazing. It's a completely nonsensical screwball comedy about Michael J. Fox, a mail-room clerk with preternatural business acumen, who takes over an abandoned office at his workplace so he can secretly be a businessman, mostly JUST BECAUSE HE LOVES DOING BUSINESS SO MUCH. The fact that no one catches on to Mike's Clark Kent/Superman routine earlier is pretty unbelievable. Doesn't HR need Fake-MJ's nonexistent social security number? That being said, the movie is actually quite a touching portrayal of a guy who will go to any lengths to be able to do what he loves to do for a living (which, as an actor, is a theme I can appreciate).

The title song is equally nonsensical (the secret of your success can't be that you're living twenty-five hours a day, Night Ranger. That's temporally impossible) but is super catchy and has a lot of great peaks and valleys, tempo-wise which is great for running outdoors.

My next recommendation, Fire, Inc.'s Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young, comes from the movie Streets of Fire (1984), which decided to keep having itself named after a Springsteen song even when Bruce turned down their request to use his music in the film. Instead, they turned to one of my favourite songwriters, Jim Steinman. He's the guy who wrote of Holding Out For A Hero, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and both Bat Out Of Hell albums for my man Meat Loaf.

The movie itself is ridiculous. Set in an alternate reality that's half-idealized-1950s-half-post-apocalyptic-1980s, it's about bounty-hunter Michael Pare rescuing his girlfriend, rock-star Diane Lane, from a biker gang leader played by a very young Willem Dafoe in bondage gear (seriously! He's so little he doesn't even get name-checked in the trailer!). Also, Rick Moranis is there as Diane Lane's manager and is doing his level best to play a tough guy and it's hilarious.

The song is classic Steinman, Wagnerian, epic, full of sweeping piano and twelve minutes long. His lyrics have always been about reclaiming a kind of lost faux 50s tough-guy youth and this song is no different - and that kind of epic machismo is pretty great for a workout. It's awesome.

Honourable mentions (neither of which are from soundtracks but should be) go to Billy Joel's I Go To Extremes, Gino Vanelli's The Time of Day (which I think is about saying no to drugs? Maybe?) and anything by Kenny Loggins, Journey, or Survivor. Seriously, a good, simple definition for music I like to work out to could be 'songs Kenny Loggins and Journey wish they were getting residuals for.'

And really, seriously, check out this trailer for Streets Of Fire. It's bananas. I'm so happy someone was lacking enough in their faculties to let that movie get made. Did I mention Michael Pare and Willem Dafoe have a sledgehammer fight at the end of the movie?! A SLEDGEHAMMER FIGHT.

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