Thursday, September 6, 2012


Music can make or break a movie. One movie that is made by its soundtrack is Footloose. The original Footloose came out in 1984. It was a smash hit that people still love to this day. A large number of people were upset that they were even remaking such a classic. While I’ll admit that I was originally one of those people, the 2011 version changed my mind. I still believe that the original is an all-around better movie, but the music in the remake really enhances the whole movie experience. Everyone knows the classic “Footloose” song, but I’m going to tell you about how the other songs in the movie contribute to the film.
The remake kept a few of the popular songs from the original like “Footloose” and the love song “Almost Paradise”, but they also added a few more contemporary songs that enrich the film. One of the most prominent new songs in my mind, is the song “Fake I.D.” by Big & Rich featuring Gretchen Wilson. Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson are well known country artists. Using them to perform this song in the scene adds credibility to the scene and therefore adds credibility to the movie. The scene that this song is playing during is when the two main characters, Ren and Ariel, and their two best friends, Rusty and Willard, sneak out to go dancing. Dancing has been outlawed in their little town, so they go into a big city nearby to have a little bit of dancing fun. The characters are finally breaking free of the chains that their town has put on them, even if it is only for a few hours. The lyrics combined with the upbeat country music gives the audience a feeling of triumph and fun because these kids are finally getting to do what they love. Some of the lyrics that really connect to the storyline include: “Just make sure that it looks like me. So the bouncer don't call the police. And don't tell my daddy. Stole the keys to his caddy. Don't dilly dally. I gotta get the hell out of this alley. Hey mister won't you sell me a fake ID.” The lyrics are playing to the fact that none of the four kids are actually 21, but they happened to get into this bar somehow. It is also talking about not telling someone’s father what they’re up to, which is referencing the fact that Ariel’s father is the Reverend of the town and a top supporter of the no dancing law. He is extremely strict with her, and she is constantly pushing her limits in an attempt to defy him. In Louis Giannetti’s, Understanding Movies, it states, “Characterization can be suggested through musical motifs” which is exactly what this song is doing for Ariel’s character (216). She is a rebel child, always challenging her parent’s authority, which is precisely the type of girl that “Fake I.D.” is describing. The lyrics fit directly into the storyline, while still managing to bring an element of prohibited fun into the scene. It seems to be saying that sometimes breaking the laws to follow what you love is acceptable in certain situations. Sometimes a little teenage defiance is good for the soul. That is in itself the premise of the movie.
In another instance, the director and composers kept some of the original songs, but changed them. One example would be “Holding Out for a Hero”. Originally it is an extremely fast paced rock song, but they turned it into a slow love song. It plays during a scene where Ariel is pressured by her boyfriend to do something that she isn’t ready for. While that is happening, the scene cuts to Ren who is unpacking his things and fixing up his car. Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz say in Everything’s an Argument that, “If you strike the right emotional note, you’ll establish an important connection” (44).  The effect that the song has on the audience is one of sadness yet hope at the same time. It makes the audience feel for the situation that Ariel is in, but hope that she will eventually be saved from this horrible relationship that she is in. When you listen to the lyrics, it is foreshadowing that Ren is going to be Ariel’s hero in the end.

The soundtrack for the 2011 version of Footloose has songs that make people want to get up out of their seats and dance, songs that make people want to cry for the characters, and classic songs that just had to be included in the remake. I may still believe that classics are better than remakes as a whole, but this soundtrack definitely put me on the path toward believing that remakes can be just as good.


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