In his review of Alone In the Universe, the first Electric Light Orchestra album in almost 15 years, our own Dan Bogosian correctly pointed out that, even though Jeff Lynne‘s music has become best known for its use in other pop-culture mediums, ELO is also very much an album band. Those two things complement each other more than you’d think.
Sure, Lynne was a hit machine throughout the ’70s and ’80s, but those hits always sounded so colorful and different because they were part of a larger puzzle. While something like “Boy Blue” rides on stadium-sized hooks, what really makes it soar are those strings, a trait that comes entirely from Lynne’s baroque pop and album-oriented sensibilities. It’s the classical thread that ties all of Eldorado (and most of ELO’s discography) together. Those strings wouldn’t be there if the song wasn’t building toward something larger.
So when a director or music supervisor decides to pluck an ELO song from beneath the sonic umbrella of its respective LP, it’s a very bold move. We know Jeff Lynne’s work as soon as we hear it, and we know how different it is from pretty much everything else released during his heyday. That’s why, in the right hands, it can make for something that’s cinematically iconic almost right away. Here are 10 of those best moments—scenes that not only include an ELO song, but are elevated by them as well.
Senior Staff Writer
10. “All Over the World”
Greg Mottola’s blink-and-miss comedy from four years ago followed Cornetto trilogy co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as they traveled across America with the titular extraterrestrial. Upon its release, ELO’s feel good jam fueled the film’s trailers, as Jeff Lynne’s sound tends to do, but fortunately, Mottola taped the Xanadu single to the end of his movie, around the time the characters’ road trippin’ comes to an end. It’s not over yet, though, as Lyne insists, “There’s gonna be a party all over the world.” Or at least that’s what Paul would have you believe. –Michael Roffman
9. “Evil Woman”
Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002)
Goldmember is easily the worst film of the Austin Powers trilogy, although it does have a handful of memorable comedic moments. One of those is the prison visit between an incarcerated Dr. Evil and Frau Farbissina. Naturally, things start to get conjugal, all to the tune of “Evil Woman”. The Corrections Officer abruptly puts a stop to it, but not before Dr. Evil wags his tongue in perfect sync to the groovy clavinet riff. —Dan Caffrey
8. “Turn to Stone”
Detroit Rock City (1999)
It’s a little hard to hear over the heaping and the hollering, but when the four teenage members of Mystery are losing their shit in the elevator leading up to Simple Simon and what might be their second chance at KISS tickets, you can slightly hear ELO’s string-wrapped pop ditty, “Turn to Stone”, over the PA. It’s admittedly a needle in the film’s ’70s rock ‘n’ roll haystack, but hey, it was an excuse to write about Adam Rifkin’s oft-forgotten Detroit Rock City, which hopefully remains a staple of every male teenager’s rockist fantasy film collection. By the way, give me back my fucking drumsticks … please. –Michael Roffman