I’ve always had an inexplicable aversion to Chianti. If someone were to just fill up my glass without my knowledge I’d drink it and love it; but I won’t order it, I don’t want to talk about it, and even seeing the name on the label sends a tiny chill down my spine. I recently realized the source of my repugnance is the same as the reason I can’t ever get through the song “American Girl” by Tom Petty – it’s Hannibal Lecter’s fault. The Senator’s daughter innocently jamming out to the tune, just before being kidnapped by Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, officially killed a once perfectly harmless – and arguably awesome – song.
While effective, psycho killers aren’t the only method of slaughtering a beautiful song. Alcohol-inspired sing-a-longs are also deft music killing machines. Thanks to the movie 27 Dresses, and every single nightclub in the entire city of Las Vegas, “Bennie and the Jets” and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” respectively, have each lost a coveted spot on my iPod.
TV show theme songs are also music assassins, but the death is long and torturous – often lasting for years. Can anyone still listen to The Who’s “Who Are You” or “Baba O’Riley” without visions of crime tape and blood spatter? And while I never personally enjoyed Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” I think Dawson’s Creek brought that song both to life and death.
Last, and absolutely least, commercials are the official graveyard of amazing songs. If it’s a car commercial, your song is safe. If it’s an Old Navy commercial (RIP “Only in My Dreams” and “Sister Christian”) then I highly recommend you hit mute or get a TiVo.
Some songs are immortalized by their on-screen presence. Just ask Kenny Loggins or the cast of My Best Friend’s Wedding. I’ll never be able to separate Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” from the train scene in Risky Business, or “Playing with the Boys” from Cruise and Kilmer’s glistening abs in Top Gun. Sure a movie montage here and there may briefly dampen the spirit of the song, but nothing brings my musical bliss to a screeching halt faster than the image of that creepy Buffalo Bill asking Katherine to “put the lotion in the basket” whenever Mr. Petty starts his croon. Incidentally, I also hate fava beans.
What’s the song you can’t ever listen to the same way again?