Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Say Anything: The Songs from the Superbad Trailers

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 16, 2007

I have waited a lifetime, spent my time so foolishly

With tonight’s long-awaited release of Superbad, I feel sort of like Kent Brockman in “Deep Space Homer,” anticipating the inevitable with great trepidation. For it is unknown whether Judd Apatow will consume Hollywood or merely enslave it, or if dorky up-and-comers Jonah Hill and Michael Cera will use this is a stepping stone to coked-out DUI-laden 20-something infamy, or if anyone will ever have cause to utter the words “Christopher Mintz-Plasse” again. But one thing is for certain, there is no stopping it–Superbad will soon be here.

And I, for one, welcome our new frat overlords. Like to remind them that as a respectted member of the blogging community, I can be helpful in rounding up extras to toil in their profanity-laden, purple-hazed mid-and-quarter-life-crisis comedies. Anyway, yes, I will be seeing Superbad at midnight tonight, and forgoing an extreme dry in topic matter, I won’t be writing about it, because it’s a completely foregone conclusion—of course it’s going to be awesome. There’s nothing really even approaching room for error.

So instead, I want to write about an aspect of the Apatow wing of the Frat Pack that’s gone somewhat overlooked–the ingenious use of pop music. Apatow, Mottola, McKay et al. aren’t exactly at a Scorsese or Anderson (Wes or P.T.) level of soundtracking yet, but they sure know how to play a song for its maximum musical (and more importantly, cultural) power–“Afternoon Delight” in Anchorman, “Heat of the Moment” in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” in Knocked Up, the examples are countless. Rather than using the songs as a sort of Voice of God background commentary, though, the FPers have the characters actually interacting with the songs, responding to whatever social associations the songs carry for them, and inviting the audience to do the same.

From the trailers, Superbad looks to be a fine continuance in this tradition. Here’s what we’ve got so far:

The Bar-Kays – “Too Hot to Stop” At first I just assumed that this song, played as the badass background music for Hill and Cera walking off the schoolbus in slow-motion, was Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star“. It’s got the same slow-burn funk rhythm, the same opening horn blast, even the same chords, I think. Looking it up at Wikipedia tells me that it’s actually this ’77 Bar-Kays number, and bully for them for using it–it might be the funkiest of the Bar-Kays songs I’ve heard, replete with vocoder hooks and even a trombone solo. Can’t wait to hear the more full-length version used in the movie.

Van Halen – “Panama This looks to be the breakout retro hit from Superbad, and it’s about fucking time. All three of the big 1984 singles would’ve worked brilliantly, but “Panama” is the least obvious and probably best choice for a movie soundtrack. There was just something so propulsive and exciting about those Roth-era Halen singles, and Eddie’s riffing on “Panama” is some of his most white-hot (the pre-chorus riff sounds like he’s actually burning his fingers on the guitar). Custom-made for scenes of cops doing donuts with underage kids in abandoned parking lots.

Foreigner – “Feels Like the First Time What I expect the entire to feel like, pretty much.

2 Responses to “Say Anything: The Songs from the Superbad Trailers”

  1. Joe said

    “House of Jealous Lovers”

  2. Andrew Unterberger said

    it wasn’t “House of Jealous Lovers,” it was something else from that album. “Echoes,” I think.

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