By Drew Taylor | The Playlist July 18, 2012 at 12:01PM
R. Kelly, "Gotham City" from "Batman & Robin"
Only R. Kelly can turn a song about a city full of deformed freakshows and masked vigilantes into a very-nearly gospel song, full of easily digestible spiritual uplift and a chant-along chorus. (A more-further-removed-from-Batman remix version, which featured a lot more references to "the ghetto, ghetto," appeared on Kelly's needlessly self-indulgent 1998 double-album R.) What's so amazing about "Gotham City" is how you do genuinely get caught up in the song's blindingly positive message, even though everything you've been shown thus far has suggested that Gotham is not "a city of justice, a city of love, a city of peace," as Kelly so emphatically croons. It's nice to have a little R&B back in the Batman soundtracks, though. Sing it Kels!
Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Face to Face" from "Batman Returns"
"Batman Returns" is sorely lacking in the pop music department, mostly because of Burton's outrage at his forced usage of the Prince songs for the first film. But that doesn't mean there isn't at least one memorable pop music moment, and it comes courtesy of eighties art-pop sensations Siouxsie and the Banshees. The song, "Face to Face," was co-written by Danny Elfman, which is kind of incredible given the amount of music he wrote for the film (about double the normal amount of music for a typical film). The song plays over the masquerade ball hosted by Christopher Walken's character, which Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) and Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfieffer) mistake for being a black-tie dinner. Alternate versions of the song were released, including a more pop-friendly version with an Elfman-penned chorus and a club mix (by big beat pioneers 808 State). It's just as good as anything on the Prince album.
U2, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" from "Batman Forever"
Produced by No Doubt stalwart Nellee Hooper and featuring a wholly animated music video (with animated versions of U2's ZooTV personas), "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" is a jangly glam-rock ditty that perfectly captures the anarchic spirit of Gotham City (much better than, say, "Gotham City"). Originally conceived during the Zooropa sessions (it does have that reverb-y feel of some of those songs, most notably "Numb"), it was a big hit for the album, if not the critics (it was nominated for the Razzie for Worst Original Song, unsurprisingly losing to a track from "Showgirls"). The song is a whole lot of fun to this day, and was resurrected for the band's live show during the 2010 U2 360 Tour (which we feel like is still going on somewhere). As a kid we also loved the comic book-y single sleeve. So there's that, too.
Smashing Pumpkins, "The End is the Beginning is the End" from "Batman & Robin"
It's interesting to think that "The End is the Beginning is the End," a rollicking Smashing Pumpkins track from "Batman & Robin," was some of the first new Smashing Pumpkins material to come out after the blockbuster success of their era-defining double-album Melon Collie & the Infinite Sadness. It kind of makes it even more impressive. Featuring predominantly electronic elements (foreshadowing the direction the band would go in with their next album, the unfairly ignored Adore), the song mixes Billy Corgan's dreamy lyrics (what exactly is a "crystal crow"?) with a propulsive beat and a gnarled, shredding guitar. (A more down-tempo variation, "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning" also accompanied the album.) It's a far more intellectual and deeply felt piece of pop song-craft than you would expect for a movie that features Arnold Schwarzenegger spouting ice puns.