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Kromm

Namecheck!: Songs That Mention TV & Movie Stars in Their Lyrics

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(I put this here instead of the Music forum, because it's bound to be more about the TV/Movie celeb culture aspect than analyzing the music itself)

 

Just for amusement, lets riff on songs that mention our favorite TV & Movie personalities in them.

 

For example, I found it amusing today listening to the Marc Ronson/Bruno Mars Current #1 charted hit, "Uptown Funk" and it's almost immediate Michelle Pfeiffer reference.

 

I wonder what it takes to elevate a celeb to being appropriate for inclusion in a hit song lyric.  What kind of people fail in those mentions and which succeed?

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The biggest I can think of (yet old now...  I'm old now... lol) is Bette Davis Eyes.

 

I also thought of Lose Yourself by Eminem that mentions Mekhi Phifer, but that was in the movie they did together - 8 Mile.

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The obvious Rosanna by Toto.  

I was gonna ask "Rosanna" who, but just looked it up.

 

That said, apparently the band later denied the song was about Rosanna Arquette (which could have just been them covering their asses, since one of them apparently had dated her in the past).

Oddly though, she was supposedly the actual inspiration for the Peter Gabriel song, "In Your Eyes" (which doesn't name her though).

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High School Never Ends by Bowling for Soup mentions Reese Witherspoon, Brad Pitt, Jack Black, and probably a few others.

 

Style from Taylor Swift's recent album 1989 mentions James Dean.

 

Edit: Thought of another one. Alfie by Lily Allen is about her brother, Alfie Allen, who plays Theon on Game of Thrones. It came out years before he was on the show though.

Edited by manbearpig

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Style from Taylor Swift's recent album 1989 mentions James Dean.

 

Edit: Thought of another one. Alfie by Lily Allen is about her brother, Alfie Allen, who plays Theon on Game of Thrones. It came out years before he was on the show though.

 

And thank God, Lily didn't take the incest role of Alfie's character's sister in GoT, that would have been beyond squickie.

 

Wait, you mean Taylor Swift had an affair with James Dean?  Man, she can't get along with anybody, can she?

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What a fun topic!

 

Shania Twain's You Don't Impress Me Much mentions Brad Pitt (Well, just his name. It's not about him, but still....)

Edited by Snow Apple
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Dion's "Donna the Prima Donna" rhymes "girl next door" with "Zsa Zsa Gabor."

 

David Bowie's "China Girl" mentions Marlon Brando.

 

Brigitte Bardot gets a line in Elton John's "I think I'm gonna kill myself."

 

There's a funny song by Sunspot on "Scott Bakula" that rhymes his last name with "smackula," "dracula," and "crackula."

 

ETA: Here's a list from Songfacts: http://www.songfacts.com/category-songs_inspired_by_actors.php

Edited by GreekGeek
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For example, I found it amusing today listening to the Marc Ronson/Bruno Mars Current #1 charted hit, "Uptown Funk" and it's almost immediate Michelle Pfeiffer reference.

 

Riptide by Vance Joy also has a reference to Michelle Pfeiffer.

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Riptide by Vance Joy also has a reference to Michelle Pfeiffer.

Yup. 

 

 

 

I swear she's destined for the screen

Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you've ever seen, oh

 

 

It is just that people of a certain age have some image of her as the ultimate movie hot chick?

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What a fun topic!

 

Shania Twain's You Don't Impress Me Much mentions Brad Pitt (Well, just his name. It's not about him, but still....)

Frankly as a bit of social commentary it's more interesting I think when a show uses a famous name but isn't necessarily ABOUT the person.  It enters this interesting territory I was alluding to in the first post where the very name is iconic and caries an inherent meaning that informs the plot of the song. Take "Michelle Pfeiffer".  The point of the mentions of her in Uptown Funk is to convey quality--a primo girl.  She's compared to White Gold.  Her name is used more like an adjective than a noun.  THAT'S what's so interesting about its use in that song to me.

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She's not mentioned by name but 1960's model Pattie Boyd was the inspiration for three songs:  "Something" by the Beatles (written by her then husband and my favorite Beatle George Harrison), "Layla" by Derek and the Dominoes (featuring Eric Clapton, her second husband), and "Wonderful Tonight" also by Eric Clapton.

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Barenaked Ladies - One Week has the Starsky/Hutch and Dukes of Hazard cars in the video.  The song references X-Files and Sailor Moon.

Edited by ParadoxLost
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She's not mentioned by name but 1960's model Pattie Boyd was the inspiration for three songs:  "Something" by the Beatles (written by her then husband and my favorite Beatle George Harrison)

 

I don't know if he was being facetious, but George Harrison said he wrote it with Ray Charles in mind.

 

http://www.beatlesbible.com/songs/something/

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One in the back of my mind was that I was sure that John Wayne had to have been mentioned in songs, and probably also Clint Eastwood.

To my surprise, looking around the only things of note for Eastwood (so far) was the Gorillaz song CALLED "Clint Eastwood", which in fact doesn't actually name him inside the song itself (or in fact, actually have anything to do with him).

 

EDIT - Apparently Brad Paisley has a song called "Eastwood".  Although it's an instrumental (with two audio clips of Eastwood speaking woven into it).

For Wayne... so far I've found...

Big & Rich's Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) - a country song most of us have probably heard includes Wayne. ("I'm the only John Wayne left in this town").

Paula Cole's Where Have All The Cowboys Gone - not even a country song, has a main lyric ("Where is my John Wayne?
Where is my prairie song? Where is my happy ending? Where have all the cowboys gone?")

A song by some group I've never heard of, "Little Green Cars" called "The John Wayne"--which like the Gorillaz song doesn't have much to do with the song name, but does mention him in it as a bit of imagery (a girl telling the song protagonist that her name is John Wayne, so he can later talk about how she "shot him down").
 

An actual (albeit lesser known) Queen song, Bicycle Race.  The lyric is "You say coke I say caine, You say John I say Wayne, Hot dog I say cool it man, I don't wanna be the President of America, You say smile I say cheese, Cartier I say please..."  So it's there as a cultural bit of namechecking in a nonsense rhyme--which is interesting in of itself but if anyone is an icon to randomly namecheck, it's John Wayne.

 

A Seals & Crofts song (ouch, oldie...) named John Wayne, which also namechecks Gene Kelly.  ("Do I feel that I'll prove a match to this world? Does Gene Kelly sing in the rain? Yes, I have a mind with a mind of its own. A soul like the soul of John Wayne..")

Edited by Kromm
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To my surprise, looking around the only things of note for Eastwood (so far) was the Gorillaz song CALLED "Clint Eastwood", which in fact doesn't actually name him inside the song itself (or in fact, actually have anything to do with him).

 

Amazing what you can find out on the internet.  The song is named Clint Eastwood because it was untitled until the video was done.  In the video, they used an instrument also used in scoring 'A Fistful of Dollars' so the song once completed reminded them of an old Clint Eastwood western, hence the name.

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Style from Taylor Swift's recent album 1989 mentions James Dean.

 

As does "Rock On", covered by assorted bands over the years.

 

Two R.E.M. songs come to my mind immediately: "Man on the Moon" (Andy Kaufman) and "Electrolite" (James Dean, Steve McQueen, Martin Sheen). 

 

And "It's the End of the World" has Lenny Bruce, Leonard Bernstein, and Lester Bangs.

 

Weezer- "Buddy Holly" and Mary Tyler Moore.

 

She's a C lister by professional athlete standards, but "Hey There Delilah"- Delilah DiCrescenzo- has a couple of Ivy League degrees, has qualified to represent the United States several times at the World Cross Country & Track and Field championships, and has a long time boyfriend not in a band. And does indeed still live in New York City.

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If we can do athletes, Mrs. Robinson mentions Joe DiMaggio.

 

Elton John's Goodbye Norma Jean is of course about Marilyn Monroe.

 

How about historical figures?

In Don McLean's American Pie, "Lenin read a book on Marx." and his Vincent (Starry Starry Night) is about Vincent Van Gogh.

 

(Sorry if this thread should only be about TV and Movie stars)

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Style from Taylor Swift's recent album 1989 mentions James Dean.

Yeah, overall Taylor Swift defies this topic though, because her songs are continuously ABOUT famous people, but typically don't actually name them!  So she's kind of the "anti" to this topic, sans something like this James Dean reference.

 

In fact, I actually think "Blank Space" is a rather large "fuck you" from her to how people have made fun of/criticized her for every damn song of hers being about an ex.  Whatever else you think of her, that song, if you read the actual lyrics, is taking the issue head on and is pretty blistering in making hay from the idea of her as some kind of Black Widow.

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Childish Gambino, in You See Me, raps "Texting with Olivia Munn, hopefully she'll give me some." 

 

It's so darn romantic, right? I suppose rappers do plenty of name-dropping, but usually it is about other rappers.

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The Smithereens mention Jean Shrimpton's hair in 'Behind the Wall of Sleep'

 

The Barenaked Ladies have Harrison Ford and Kurosawa in 'One Week' as well as having a verse devoted to the X-Files

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How about historical figures?

In Don McLean's American Pie, "Lenin read a book on Marx." and his Vincent (Starry Starry Night) is about Vincent Van Gogh.

 

Even though their names aren't mentioned the line in American Pie  "the day the music died" refers to the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens.  Also I once heard that the line about "I met a girl who sang the blues..." is a reference to Janis Joplin as is, allegedly, the line "someone told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair" from Led Zeppelin's Going To California.

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If we're including singers, the Righteous Brothers' "Rock and Roll Heaven" mentions a slew of them.

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One in the back of my mind was that I was sure that John Wayne had to have been mentioned in songs, and probably also Clint Eastwood.

To my surprise, looking around the only things of note for Eastwood (so far) was the Gorillaz song CALLED "Clint Eastwood", which in fact doesn't actually name him inside the song itself (or in fact, actually have anything to do with him).

 

You can find Clint Eastwood in stuff by Adam and the Ants.  His name is the chorus in Los Rancheros and he dresses up as the Man With No Name in Prince Charming video.

 

Taco name checks Gary Cooper in Putting on the Ritz.

Edited by ParadoxLost

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Taylor Swift also had a hit with "Tim McGraw."

 

Elton John- Candle in the Wind -- Norma Jean

 

Puttin' on the Ritz also mentions "where Rockefellers walk with sticks"

 

Take me Home tonight - Eddie Money - mentions Ronnie Spector (she does vocals on it)

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How about the Beastie Boys and Star Trek. "Intergalactic", "Brouhaha", and "So Whatcha Want" reference Bones, Spock, and Sulu.  ""Ch-Check It Out" had them dressed up as McCoy, Kirk, and Spock.  Then the newest movies returned the favor by having Kirk listen to the Beastie Boys.

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So give you ID card to the border guard
Your alias says you Captain John Luke Picard
Of the United Federation of Planets

 

Refreshments -Banditos
 

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Brad Paisley also has a song called Celebrity (from his Mud on the Tires CD), which talks about the various (mostly bad) behaviors celebrities engage in once they become famous. 1 of the lines in it has the main character talking about how he's gonna cry to Barbara Walters on TV (which I don't think he can now, since she's mostly retired).

Ray Stevens did a parody song called I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow which mentions Barry by name in the title & the chorus, & the verses parodied various things Barry, as a singer, & many of his hits, are known for being/alleged to be, as well as incorporating a number of titles from his hits at the time (the song is from 1979, so sort of early in his career). As a huge Manilow fan (like my screen name doesn't give that away), I can say I'm honestly not embarrassed by, nor do I hate, this parody. And I'm including it--& the song below--'cause Barry has done both TV & movies in his career, so I think it counts.

And Barry himself released a song titled They Dance, which is originally from his 2001 CD Here at the Mayflower, & was subsequently released in a slightly longer "dance" version. The song name checks various stars--some maybe not so obvious--known for their dancing ability:

(Snip)

And they dance

And she feels like Ginger Rogers

They dance!

He's got the flair of Fred Astaire

(Snip)

And they dance!

He's as hot as John Travolta

And they dance!

She's as cool as Janet J. (Janet Jackson)

(Snip)

And they dance!

He's Antonio Banderas

They dance!

She's Ann Miller on the screen

Edited by BW Manilowe

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Nena's "99 Luftballoons" mentions Captain Kirk (in both the original German and English versions "Everyone's a Captain Kirk").

 

P!nk mentions Jessica Simpson in "So What (I'm Still a Rockstar)" (the waiter gives Jessica her table just showing how far P!nk has fallen).

 

BNL has the song "Be My Yoko Ono".  She obviously also gets mentioned in the title of The Beatles "The Ballad of John and Yoko", but it is BNL that users her as a noun.

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"Rockstar" - Nickelback 

 

Somewhere between Cher and James Dean is fine for me 

 

I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels

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Adam Lambert's Ghost Town mentions Elvis, James Dean and Hollywood.

 

I tried to believe
In God and James Dean
But Hollywood sold out

 

Tonight Elvis is dead
And everyone's spread
And love is a satire

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The New Radicals "Get What You Give" namechecks Beck, Hanson, Courtney Love, & Marilyn Manson (and now that's stuck in my head).

Edited by The Crazed Spruce · Reason: added punctuation
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