15
Jan
2011
Random Pop Culture Top Ten List
Top 10 Songs From Children's Movies Better Understood by Adults
Jordan, Sam, and Ashley
Random Pop Culture Top 10 List is a (fairly self-explanatory) weekly list in which the writers at Review to Be Named take stock of the realm of pop culture, and come up with their Top Ten in a specific category.

A surprising amount of kids movies have musical numbers exploring themes that are either inappropriate for children or deal with themes that kids coul not hope to understand. Here are ten songs from kids movies that you probably appreciate (or understand) more now that you're slightly older:

10. "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" from The Lion King

Though the song sounds like less of a babymaking anthem when performed by Kristle Edwards rather than Elton John, the sexy jam "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" imparts two messages of questionable veracity to children: first, that lions are monogamous, and second, that your friends will secretly mourn every time you get laid. While the latter contains a kernel of truth (significant others will cut into time spent hanging out with the lazy, farting dudes you count as friends), only furries believe that smitten lions make sweet, passionate love in secluded jungle paradises. Mostly, it's anonymous and aggressive fucking in tall grass at midday, which is sure to be a rude awakening for your children when they stumble across it on Animal Planet and wonder why Simba is hurting Nala.



9. "Tale As Old As Time" from Beauty and the Beast

The definition of "snack break" moment for a lot of kids when they first see Beauty and the Beast, "Tale As Old As Time" is actually a pretty insightful song about contempt slowly melting into love. The routine is an old one for fans of romance films, but the most we ever got out of it as kids was that Mrs. Potts voice was pretty comforting (and that it was pretty impressive that the Beast could fit into that suit). In hindsight, watching the Beast try to be a gentlemen and finally make progress with Belle to a song about the romantic formula at its sweetest is actually a pretty affecting moment, but for a kid, its mostly just time to make a run for the peanut butter.



8. "Worried Shoes" from Where The Wild Things Are

Walking into Where The Wild Things Are as a kid, "Worried Shoes" probably comes across as a cute little song about some anthropomorphic shoes. It isn't. In fact, "Worried Shoes" comes from the mind of Daniel Johnston (though to be fair, the version in the film is a cover by Karen O) and is about his crippling depression, caused mostly by his fairly severe mental illness. The song comes from a place of deep darkness, a raw emotional examination of the shackles Johnston has to walk around with each day. It still fits with the tone of the film pretty well, but its inconceivable that any child seeing the movie would even begin to understand the song in context. And it works much, much better in context.



7. "I Won't Say I'm In Love" from Hercules

Anyone who has gone through their teens (or, let's be honest people, our early adulthood) knows what its like to hate yourself for loving someone. Attraction is an uncontrollable phenomenon and at least once in your life, you've probably fallen in love (or lust) with someone that probably wasn't the best choice for you. But our guess is that time wasn't in the third grade. Like many songs on this list, "I Won't Say I'm In Love" is actually very good and discusses some pretty complicated issues. They just happen to be issues that no one in the movie's age group would have any experience with, or any real knowledge of. there were talking statues there though, so bonus points for that.



6. "Hellfire" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Let's start with the obvious: a lot of children probably don't have a very good conception of Hell. More importantly though, we can't imagine too many of the films younger viewers understood the racial tension that plagued Frolo, nor his hate-fuck fueled desire to bang Esmerelda or possibly burn her at the stake for being a gypsy. There are a lot of problems with The Hunchback of Notre Dame (among them the fact that it basically teaches kids that ugly people never get the girl, a truism they can probably wait until puberty to discover), but Frolo's attraction to Esmerelda is the kind of dark, twisted, complex material better saved for a cable channel drama, not a villainous interlude in a movie with talking gargoyles.



5. "Pink Elephants on Parade" from Dumbo

In defense of "Pink Elephants on Parade," it is a pretty accurate assessment of what's going on in the film at the time. Yet what's going on in this children's movie is a talking elephant and his circus-hand mouse friend on a bender. This alone is inappropriate enough for kids, but even if they understand Dumbo's very poor decision, they probably won't get that the pink elephant is a well known metaphor for alcohol consumption and addiction. Adults may chuckle at the trippy ode to the paciderm on so many of their backs, but for kids this is really a combination of a bad influence and a bad trip...which is also something they probably won't know about for a decade or so after they see Dumbo.



4. "Little Drop of Poison" from Shrek 2

Shrek 2 is packed to the gills with jokes that play more to adults than to children. In fact, the movie probably wouldn't work at all as kid's fare if it weren't for a lot of cute anthropomorphic animals and some flatulence humor. Yet perhaps the most egregious (at least to the watchful viewer) is the song that Captain Hook sings in the tavern that houses all of the villains Prince Charming is trying to recruit. Technically "Little Drop of Poison" wasn't written for the movie (it actually appears on the kid-friendly Tom Waits' 2006 rarities collection Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards), and that's obvious if you listen to the incredibly nihilistic, cynical lyrics. "Did the Devil make the world while God was sleeping?" Waits asks. A valid question perhaps for a late night philosophy session in a college dorm, but probably not one that most 6-year-olds are thinking about during that tag game at recess.



3. "Let Me Be Good to You" from The Great Mouse Detective

The sultry dame seducing the rowdy bar is a film noir staple dating back to the '30s. Yet this sequence from The Great Mouse Detective has a lot more that kids might not understand than just a seemingly meek mouse letting go and working her mojo on some rowdy mice. Sure there's drinking, but there's also a rohypnol joke as Basil's partner chugs a mug of beer that Basil warns him too late has been drugged. Let's run this down again: a temptress mouse keeps the bar full of murderous gangsters (dressed mostly as pirates, because I guess kids get that pirates are notorious alcoholics) from rioting by implying that she will sexually please all of them, a trick that isn't going to work on our stalwart heroes until they are drugged. This movie was rated G, but probably just because no kid is going to understand quite how fucked up and inappropriate this scene actually is until they look back on it years later.



2. "I Will Go Sailing No More" from Toy Story

One of the reasons Pixar's output is so good is that their films never talk down to kids. Hell, Toy Story 3 actually had the heroes facing their own mortality, and Up was pretty much a movie about death and the struggle to move on. So it can be argued that "I Will Go Sailing No More," the Randy Newman song that backs Buzz Lightyear's realization that he really can't fly, was just the prototype for this frank, mature way of engaging children. And while the song certainly works as just a sad song playing while something sad is happening to Buzz, its much more tragic when you realize that Newman is singing about the moment in your life when you realize, once and for all, that your dreams may not come true and that the world is a colder, harsher place than you ever expected. "I Will Go Sailing No More" is a legitimately great tragedy of a song, and we just didn't grasp the weight of its sorrow fully when we all still thought we'd grow up to be the first President to set foot on the moon and play a show there with our totally awesome band.



1. "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie

Seeing The Muppet Movie as a kid, "Rainbow Connection" just played as a sweet little song that showed us that Kermit had the talent he needed to impress Dom Deluise's Hollywood Agent and start his quest to strike it big in the land of dreams. Yet taking a closer look as an adult, "Rainbow Connection" is actually a song about the lies we tell ourselves to make us think our dreams can come true and works more to illustrate how unhappy Kermit is in his quiet swamp life before he realizes that he has to follow his long shot dream or else watch his spirit slowly die. But, you know, there's a stand-up comedian bear about five minutes in his future (at another shady bar full of murderous louts), so he's going to be fine. "Rainbow Connection" isn't the only song in the movie we didn't completely get as kids ("Can You Picture That," the trippy introduction of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, and Gonzo's tragic, nostalgic "I'm Going To Go Back there Someday" leap immediately to mind) but it is the only one that takes on a completely new, much deeper meaning when reexamined at an older age.





Read more Random Pop Culture Top Ten List here
Tags:
comments powered by Disqus