Influence is a bastard; a rugged dog, waiting on a street corner with gnarled teeth. Once that mutt clenches down, it leaves behind a hideous scar — a reminder.
Music’s just as susceptible. While a song never changes, one’s experience can. Whether it’s love at first sight, a hard divorce, a big win, or the death of a close friend or family member, songs influence at different volumes and for varying reasons.
This logic is tantamount to film, television, and those around us. Because of this, we gathered together a rather eclectic (and quite random) assortment of 20 songs that were forever changed by these three mediums. Be forewarned, however, there is no going back.
Shocking Blue – “Venus”
Ruined by: A woman’s razor blade
Since 2001, the Gillete Venus ad campaign hasn’t changed its song. It’s kind of like watching that local commercial for your local Go-Kart Track/Mini-Golf course in 2013, even though they filmed the spot sometime during the Reagan administration. A version of Shocking Blue’s “Venus” (that sounds most like Bananarama’s version) has always been the theme song. It’s brilliant really — even though “Venus” topped the charts when it came out, the song just keeps on resonanting with anyone who’s inclined to need that triple-blade power on their gams. -Jeremy D. Larson
Queen – “We Are the Champions”/”We Will Rock You”
Ruined by: The Mighty Ducks and pretty much every sporting event of the last 30 years
In 1992, Disney’s blockbuster hit, The Mighty Ducks, reintroduced America to a lot of things: hockey, Emilio Estevez, and Queen. The film’s rousing finale — where, y’know, Estevez’ Gordon Bombay defeats the late Lane Smith’s Hawks — gets capped off with a one-two punch of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You”. It’s a triumphant moment for a kid’s film and one that’s never tired, thanks to sporting events across America.
(Granted, this trend probably happened earlier than Ducks, but c’mon, everything Disney touches turns into an iconic thing. Blank Check, anyone?)
Today, it’s an expected institution, and even now, as I type this, WGN is playing “…Champions” while reporting on the Chicago Blackhawks big win against the Boston Bruins for this year’s Stanley Cup. None of this is a bad thing, it’s that both songs have lost their singular identities. They exist solely for sport; they’re arena anthems, they accompany The Organ Interludes. ”Hey, are we Ducks or what?” -Michael Roffman
Q Lazzarus – “Goodbye Horses”
Ruined by: Buffalo Bill (of The Silence of the Lambs)
It’s like you can’t even put on makeup on in front of your vanity and tug at your nipple ring and dance around naked wearing only a kimono to this song anymore. “Goodbye Horses” is definitively ruined by the skin-fetishising transexual serial killer Buffalo Bill in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 adaptation of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs — so much so that Q Lazzarus tried to release another version of the song for the Clerks II soundtrack to try to rid it of its stigma.
The song’s composer William Garvey says that the horses in question “represent the five senses from Hindu philosophy (The Bhagavad Gita) and the ability to lift ones perception above these physical limitations and to see beyond this limited Earthly perspective.” They apparently do not represent a young girl being trapped in a torture basement while Bill does the now-patented Tuck Back. Good luck trying to forget the Tuck Back. -Jeremy D. Larson
BTO – “Takin’ Care of Business”
Ruined by: Office supplies (saved by Arrested Development?)
Not that Canadian rock outfit Bachman-Turner Overdrive is anything worth celebrating, but it’s still a shame one of their many Top 40 hits has become synonymous with Scotch tape, manilla folders, and overpriced bottles of Sprite. For years, it’s been the theme song for either Office Depot, Office Max, and even at one point, K-Mart. There’s no denying this once ’70s radio staple can conjure anything else but the red shirts waiting to make a copy for you. The cheesy piano lines, That Chorus, and the song’s clap fills all eek of droll afternoon programming on a sick day. More recently, however, it was “saved” by Arrested Development, specifically the “Top Banana” episode, where Michael Bluth takes matters into his own hands. Randy Bachman should be proud. -Michael Roffman