• Golden Globe Awards

1985: It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll

It’s only rock ’n’ roll – but we liked it. Especially in 1985, when we had the pleasure of choosing between heavyweights such as Prince, Stevie Wonder, Phil Collins, Kenny Loggins, Paul McCartney, and Ray Parker Jr., all nominated for Best Song in a Motion Picture.
Plenty of music was in the air at the Golden Globes that year. There was Mozart (Milos Forman’s Amadeus, winner of Best Drama), Jazz (Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club, nominated) and there was opera (Francesco Rosi’s adaption of Bizet’s Carmen, Best Foreign Language Film).
But rock ruled. The songs by some of the most outstanding talents of the time spiced up dramas and comedies alike. Dance numbers added exuberance, and ballads “captured the ever-present feeling of love and optimism”, as Cash Box commented.
All the nominated songs of 1985 became worldwide hits. Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, the winning song from the movie The Woman in Red, topped 19 charts, a global record.
Prince’s stark, striking “When Doves Cry” anchored Purple Rain, serving as its lead single. Similar to the success of Phil Collins’s “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” from Against All Odds or Paul McCartney’s “No More Lonely Nights” from Give My Regards to Broad Street. For a whole generation, there was no dance party without “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford from the movie of the same title. And whenever some of those parties got reasonably silly, a chorus of “Who you gonna call”, from Ray Parker Jr’s song in Ghostbusters, was inescapable.
As our own Wall of Fame illustrates, over the years, the lists in the category Best Song were filled with the names of the titans of Rock (a note for purists: we use this term generously). There never were live musical performances during Golden Globe ceremonies; that’s why they never performed their hits on those evenings. But they joined, and – be it Elton John, Mick Jagger, or Lady Gaga – caused the expected excitement among the spectators at the Red Carpet.
It might be interesting to note that rock and film had a symbiotic relationship from the start of that subgenre of popular music. There was The Blackboard Jungle, a 1955 film directed by Richard Brooks about an interracial inner-city school. It’s the main song, “Rock Around the Clock”, performed by Bill Haley & His Comets, that literally introduced Rock around the world.
There was a film scene that shot Elvis Presley to superstardom: the 1957 movie Jailhouse Rock,where he sings in a stylized cell block while his dance moves radiate sex and youthful energy as if it had never been seen before.
And according to Rock historian Nik Cohn, it was the Beatles’ decision to do films early on – Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965) – that was a major reason why the Fab Four left all other rock bands behind.
Let’s end our tribute to the winners and nominees in the Best Song category with the title of Taylor Hackford’s tribute to one of the early greats, Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock’n’Roll!.