This was a curious promotional thing in the '90s and slightly beyond, back when music videos were a relevant cultural force. A funny performance or funny song from a comedy movie would be repackaged as a music video and released to the music channels, maybe even radio, as a way to promote the movie. Because how else would you know it was a comedy without the funny song? It was a strange time; we were all of us hopped up on Fruitopia for most of it.
The Mask: “Cuban Pete” (1994)
The Mask really tried to force 1930s nightclub culture down our throats for some reason. (The soundtrack also featured a rock song from Harry Connick Jr., which is just weird.) That fad was not meant to be, but here remains this relic of Jim Carrey doing a mildly racist “Latin singer” act in this, his cover of an old Desi Arnaz song.
Anchorman: “Afternoon Delight” (2004)
If the Channel 4 News Team would all agree on a panty-dropping lovemaking anthem, 60 percent of the time, they’d agree all the time on the Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight.”
Semi Pro: “Love Me Sexy” (2008)
The whole conceit of Semi Pro, perhaps the least loved of the Will Ferrell obscure-sports comedies, was that Ferrell’s character, Jackie Moon, parlayed his earnings from his lite rock/disco (and only) hit “Love Me Sexy” into buying an ABA team.
The movie Spy Hard, and its theme song “Theme From Spy Hard” are so clearly parodies of a famous movie franchise and its overbearing music that I don’t have to tell you what it is. Okay, it’s The Bourne Identity trilogy.
Beavis and Butt-head Do America: “Lesbian Seagull” (1996)
While it seems like a funny, fake hippie song that Beavis and Butt-head’s dated, hippie teacher would think was sensitive, and not ridiculous like the rest of us, it’s actually a real, earnest song, written by folkie Tom Wilson Weinberg in 1979. In the movie it was performed by Mr. Van Driessen (Mike Judge); the single version was by Englebert Humperdinck.
Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery: “BBC” (1997)
Just in case you didn’t understand that Austin Powers was supposed to be British, Mike Myers, in character, sings this ‘60s British Invasion style rock song about the British Broadcasting Corporation, backed by the imaginary ‘60s British group Ming Tea, which is actually a supergroup which includes the very real, very talented, and not at all British musicians Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
A sorely underrated dark comedy, The Cable Guy was probably such a notorious bomb because it wasn’t the broad slapstick stuff we were used to from Jim Carrey at the time (this was before America got Majestic fever). Still, the movie was marketed as silly and wacky, up to and including Carrey performing a version of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” in character.
My Best Friend’s Wedding: “I Say a Little Prayer” (1997)
All real-life wedding rehearsal dinners and receptions since have featured musical numbers and a charming appearance from Rupert Everett.
Joe's Apartment: “Funky Towel” (1996)
Based on a short film that aired on MTV was this part live-action, part elaborately stop-motion animated film about disgusting creatures living in vomit-inducing filth. And in addition to Jerry O’Connell (wocka-wocka) it starred thousands of cockroaches, prone to old Hollywood-style musical numbers but with a ‘90s hip-hop edge, dogg.
So I Married an Axe Murderer: “This Poem Sucks” (1993)
In one of the few Mike Myers comedies in which the actor does not disappear into a broad character obscured by accents and wigs (although that ‘90s bowl cut didn’t age as well as Austin Powers’ velvet suit), Myers plays a man who is a beat poet, for a living, in the 1990s, in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Huh. The love poem he delivers, despite the title, does not suck.
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