By Christopher Campbell
In response to Karina's post from yesterday about plot songs, I feel it is necessary and timely to pay tribute today to the best plot song writer since Huey Lewis: Will Smith. From the ’80s on, Smith has provided the world with songs serving as storytelling supplements to his TV show, his movies and even other people’s movies. At times he has even prematurely released songs that could later be applied to movies for which he failed to attach an official plot song. Uh huh.
To get us started, here’s one for "Hancock". It’s a song released three years ago, but it’s much more relevant now:
“Here He Comes” for "Hancock"
The above video is the closest thing I can find to a video for the song, which applies to Smith’s latest movie in three ways. (1) The title is close to the former title of the movie, “Tonight He Comes.” (2) It samples the theme to the Spider-Man TV series, fitting it in with the superhero plot. (3) It works as a big defense against all of the naysayers thinking he’s finally struck out with "Hancock".
“If U Can’t Dance (Slide)” for "Hitch"
Because the video featuring “Here He Comes” that I embedded already included this track, I’m moving on to it next. According to Wikipedia, the song features a dialogue sample from the hit movie, but I don’t hear it. Still, it does relate to the movie, because of this scene.
“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Theme Song)” from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
Every sitcom should have an opening theme song that lays out a prologue for the series. Especially one as easily remembered as this. If you don’t know the lyrics, you’re definably unAmerican. I think McCarthy said that.
“Men in Black” from "Men in Black"
I know that reworking the chorus from “Forget Me Nots” has relevance to the memory-erasing devices in the movie, but the song’s concentration on the Men in Black not letting us remember always made me think about the memorability of the movie itself. The song later became more significant for me when I completely forgot the entirety of Men in Black II a few days after seeing it.
“Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” from "Men in Black II"
Huh. What do you know? I completely forgot this plot song existed, too.
“Nightmare on My Street” for "A Nightmare on Elm Street"
Smith never appeared in any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but that didn’t stop him from recording this single, which coincided with the release of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. According to Wikipedia, there allegedly was a video made for the song, but due to New Line’s unhappiness with the track, it was never unveiled to the public. So, hopefully this fan-made video, which apes the Fresh Prince video style perfectly, will do.
“Parents Just Don’t Understand” for "Made in America"
I couldn’t leave out this classic Fresh Prince track, because it tells such a great story, so I’m forcefully relating it to an early Smith movie that has to do with parents. It was either that or consider it a plot song for the double-Lohan version of The Parent Trap, in which it appears. Isn’t it about time, though, that this video be adapted into a feature-length film?
“Just the Two of Us” for "The Pursuit of Happyness"
The song is apparently in actuality a plot song for a children’s book of the same name that Smith wrote. But since I’ve never seen said book, I’m linking it to his movie about a father and son struggling to get by (they can make it if they try). The video features a different son than the movie, but in fairness to the kids, we can ignore that lack of consistency.
“Ring My Bell” for "I Am Legend"
Smith should have updated this old Fresh Prince single and applied it to his previous sci-fi blockbuster. Throughout the movie, he broadcasts what’s basically an invitation for survivors to ring his bell. He’d need to throw in an extra verse about how he doesn’t want the undead creatures to call him up, but that wouldn’t have been too difficult.
“I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson” for "Ali"
This single off the DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince album “In This Corner…” predated Smith’s portrayal of boxer Muhammad Ali by 11 years. And its lyrics don’t exactly apply to the biopic (the closest line to an Ali reference is “I’m rough like a freight train, smooth like ice”). Had Smith waited a decade, though, he could have easily altered the song to fit his Oscar-nominated role. Maybe it would have been titled “I Think I Can Beat George Foreman” or something (Ali would have never said “I think I can”). And maybe it would have gotten Smith a second Academy Award nomination for Ali — for Best Original Song.
“Tell Me Why” for "World Trade Center"
Too bad Smith wasn’t cast in Oliver Stone’s 9/11 movie, because this would have worked as its plot song. I guess that would have made the movie a little too silly, though. Maybe it will be on the soundtrack for the inevitable Michael Bay 9/11 blockbuster.
“Miami” for "Bad Boys" and "Bad Boys II"
Three years late or five years early, this should have been the theme song to the Bad Boys movies. Yes, only because the franchise is set in Miami.
“Will 2K” for "I, Robot"
“Will 2K” makes me think of Y2K, which makes me think of computers malfunctioning, which makes me think of robots taking over. Say what now?
“Summertime” for "Independence Day"
There’s nothing in the song about aliens, destroyed landmarks or even Randy Quaid. But there’s no denying that it goes with the movie, because there are only two things every American must do on the 4th of July: watch a Will Smith movie (preferably ID4) and listen to “Summertime” while sitting back and unwinding.