8 Pop Songs From The 1980s That Sampled Movie Dialogue - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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8 Pop Songs From The 1980s That Sampled Movie Dialogue

Ever wondered where you heard that line of dialogue before...


Sampling in songs is nothing new. Populised to the nth degree in the many groundbreaking early hip-hop and rap tracks of the late 70s and early 80s, the garage and house music scenes would lean heavily into the practice as leaps in technology allowed bedroom producers and DJs to suddenly find themselves able to make their own music by cutting up other people's work. Sample, loop and repeat.

It wasn't just the dance acts of the day that got in on the sampling act, but whereas emerging acts like S*Express and Black Box were sampling and cutting up old-school dance tracks to make something fresh, the big names of the day often looked to the Silver Screen for their samples of choice.

We've rounded up 8 pop songs from the 1980s that all feature dialogue from movies, some of them may be obvious but I bet there are at least one or two that you didn't know what film it was taken from.



Prince - Batdance
Kicking off with a very obvious one. Prince's 1989 worldwide hit, accompanying the Michael Keaton Batman movie, is loaded with samples from the film. Including Keaton saying "Hi, Bruce Wayne", "I'm Batman" & "She is great isn't she?", Jack Nicholson's maniacal Joker laugh, his character saying "Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" & "This town needs an enema", and Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale screaming and saying her character's name "Vicki Vale". That's just a small selection of the extensive movie dialogue.

Not to limit it to sampling the film, Prince also samples himself! Elements from at least seven of his songs (some unreleased) were incorporated into Batdance: 200 Balloons, We Got the Power, House in Order, Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic, The Future, and Electric Chair. Some of these were mere snippets, and other segments showed up only in remixes of the track. Plus, in his vocals, Prince incorporates the sung-pronunciation of the antagonist name as heard in the introduction of the 1960s Batman TV show.



Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love
Kate Bush's 1986 release, the third from her album of the same name, is about being afraid to fall in love, with the emotion compared to being chased by a pack of hounds. The music video (directed by Bush herself) was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's film The 39 Steps, and a Hitchcock lookalike also features (a nod to the director's famous cameo appearances in his movies).

The album, single and video all kick off with a short line of dialogue that really makes you sit up and pay attention.
"It's in the trees. It's coming!"
With the inspiration being Hitchcock you might be thinking that line is sampled from one of his mamy movies, but actually it's taken directly from the 1957 British horror film Night of the Demon, sampling a character played by the late, great Maurice Denham.



The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
The Queen Is Dead, the opening track from The Smiths 1986 album of the same name (which notably became an expressionistic music video directed by Derek Jarman), starts with a soundbite from Bryan Forbes' 1962 British film The L-Shaped Room. The sample features the voice of Cicely Courtneidge whose character is nostalgically singing the First World War song "Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty".

The inclusion of this sample is a prime example of Morrissey's fascination with 1960s British cinema, and, fact fans, The L-Shaped Room featured Pat Phoenix - who had already appeared as a cover star on The Smiths 1985 single Shakespeare's Sister.



Abigail Mead & Nigel Goulding - Full Metal Jacket (I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor)
The 1987 war film Full Metal Jacket follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their boot camp training in Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, under their abusive drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.

Lee Ermey played the harsh and vulgar Parris Island drill instructor, prior to which he had actually served as a U.S. Marine drill instructor during the Vietnam War and used this experience to ad lib much of his dialogue.

The single above was released to promote the film and reached number 2 in the UK chart. It's packed full of samples of Ermey's drill cadences taken directly from the film and placed over an electro dance beat.



Big Audio Dynamite - E=MC2
E=MC2, Big Audio Dynamite 1985 single taken from their debut album, is not, as many believe, primarily about Albert Einstein, although the theoretical physicist does of course feature, but rather something of a love letter to the films of Nicolas Roeg.  Just how much of an ode to Roeg is it? Well....
  • The last four lines of the first verse "Man dies first reel / People ask what's the deal? / This ain't how it's supposed to be / Don't like no Aborigine" are a reference to the 1971 film Walkabout, which begins with an adult character committing suicide, which then leaves two children to survive a trek across the Australian outback, aided by a young Aborigine male.
  • The 2nd verse (from "Took a trip to Powis Square" to "Insanity Bohemian style") refers to the two main characters in Performance; a retired rock star (played by Mick Jagger) and a gangster on the run (played by James Fox)
  • "King of brains" - refers to Albert Einstein, a lead character in 1985s Insignificance (note also the reference to "relativity" in the chorus)
  • "Queen of the sack" - refers to Marilyn Monroe, a lead character in Insignificance
  • "Hall of fame baseball" - refers to Joe DiMaggio, a lead character in Insignificance
  • "Senator's a hoodlum" - refers to Joe McCarthy, a lead character in Insignificance
  • "Space guy fell from the sky" refers to 1976s The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie
  • The 2nd verse (from "Met a dwarf who was no good" to "Gets to take the funeral ride") describes 1973s Don't Look Now, starring Donald Sutherland.
As well as all that throughout the song there are dialogue samples taken directly from Roeg's 1970 film Performance.



Silver Bullet - 20 Seconds To Comply
Released in December 1989, and peaking at number 11 on the UK chart, the British rapper Silver Bullet (who, perhaps surprisingly was not born to a Mr & Mrs Bullet, but rather named at birth Richard David Brown) scored his second hit whilst frantically rapping against samples from the film RoboCop and, in particular, a sample of ED-209 (from which the track took its name).

Although it's remembered for the RoboCop connection, Bullet would reveal in the music press of the day that the title of the track was inspired by a run-in Bullet and his "posse" had with the law during the 1989 Notting Hill Carnival.



Madonna - White Heat
Here's a song Madonna obviously really liked but didn't think it was strong enough to be a single. White Heat is not only the third tack on her 1986 album True Blue but was also featured as the B-side on both Open Your Heart and the following year's Who's That Girl, plus became a staple of her live shows at the time.

The liner notes of True Blue dedicated White Heat to actor James Cagney, who in 1949 played ruthless, deranged gang leader Arthur “Cody” Jarrett in the Warner Brothers film of the same name. Throughout the song, several clips of Cagney’s dialogue from that original motion picture are sampled.



Sigue Sigue Sputnik - Love Missile F1-11
Often remembered as one-hit-wonders (they did actually have three UK Top 40 hits, surprisingly), Sigue Sigue Sputnik achieved worldwide notoriety with their 1986 debut single Love Missile F1-11 which included samples from Scarface, The Terminator, and Rocky 4, among several other big Hollywood films.

The music video above features many shots of a futuristic city and references The Terminator, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Mad Max and Scarface, with some of Malcolm McDowell's 'ultraviolence' quotes from A Clockwork Orange also used. The sleeve for the 12" single (top of the page) was also produced in the style of a movie poster.

But which version of this sample heavy single you got largely depended on where you lived because none of the samples used in the single had received copyright clearance, and so, for instance, they were replaced in the US version by soundalikes.

Can you name any other songs from the 1980s that sample movie dialogue? Let us know in the comments below...

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