REWIND: ‘Mortal Kombat’ and soundtrack songs that actually aged well

Mortal Kombat

“Mooooortal Kommmmmbattttt!” Ahem. “Mortal Kombat” 1995.

This weekend is the movie event of the year (until next weekend, or until the new Matrix movie comes out), is the remake of “Mortal Kombat.”

You may rightfully point out that the original 1995 “Mortal Kombat” movie is not exactly a classic. That would be true. In fact it’s fodder for RiffTrax, a spiritual successor to Mystery Science Theater 3000. But I was 12 when that movie came out and it was the coolest thing of all time, so I am absolutely stoked for a new one, even if I’m a grown man now who theoretically has better taste. [Gokhman note right here in the intro! Go figure. Anyway, I agree it was an awesome movie, even if I was a few years older than Willis at the time]. And in my defense, the guy who directed “Mortal Kombat,” Paul W. S. Anderson, also directed sci-fi/horror classic “Event Horizon,” so there’s a kernel of quality there.

Anyway, the trailer includes the famed and extremely ’90s techno Mortal Kombat song, which made me listen to it. It’s also terrible, in retrospect! But I also still love it. So now I will subject it to you with four other songs from movies that I didn’t use last time I had this idea.

The Immortals — “Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat)”

Right off the bat, I have to admit that I’m cheating. This is not from the movie soundtrack.

This was from Mortal Kombat: The Album, released in 1994 to promote the console release of the game. I owned this CD and listened to it at least a thousand times, but in case you had taste, it has a track for each of the playable characters, one for Goro, and this masterpiece of shouting and product placement. It’s magical. I wish video game companies still released albums like this to promote games. I mean, after all, this one peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart!

Really! This song made the charts! I’m not the only one who had awful taste in the ’90s!

Isaac Hayes — “Theme From Shaft”

To make up for self-indulgently subjecting you to that, I’ll pick good songs for the rest of the column. I promise.

Shaft” is an absolute classic. (Its two sequels also exist, and the 2000 reboot… we don’t talk about that. But the 2019 one is pretty good.) Somehow, however, its theme song is more classic. There are people who know “That Shaft’s one bad motha…” but don’t know who that Shaft is. And when I find those people, I make them watch the movie, by force if necessary.

You should also watch “Foxy Brown,” “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” and “Black Dynamite.” Just saying.

Eminem — “Lose Yourself”

I’m on record as thinking Eminem isn’t very good. He sounds like a knockoff MC Chris and he’s a proto-edgelord who never realized he’s old now and it’s worn very thin. But this song? This is a great song.

I will never fully understand how someone could write “My Name Is,” which is possibly the most overwhelmingly boring hip-hop song ever recorded, and also “Lose Yourself,” which is that good. Have you heard “My Name Is” recently? It has sub-Chuggo flow and even less depth of lyrical content. And that was his first hit! People had terrible taste in the ’90s.

Prince — “When Doves Cry”

This is also kinda cheating, since the song and the album are companions more than standalone movie and soundtrack, but it’s been far too long since Prince has been in the column, and this week is the fifth anniversary of his passing, so have some Prince.

Twitter recently alerted me to my new favorite piece of crossover nerd/Prince trivia: Prince was probably one of the first people in the world to play “Oregon Trail.” Seriously.

You see, “Oregon Trail” was designed by Bill Heinemann and Paul Dillenberger in 1971, and it was tested at Bryant Junior High in Minneapolis. And who was an eighth-grader at Bryant Junior High in 1971? A kid named Prince Nelson, who would turn into a guitar god and music legend.

It’s not actually in the official record, but I assume young Mr. Nelson was the one who suggested both the buffalo hunt and dysentery.

The Dutones — “The Bird”

OK, so this one isn’t exactly iconic. It’s not an all-time classic. But it was American Hero John Waters’ 75th birthday on Thursday, so a song from a Waters movie had to be in here.

I had the absolute honor of seeing John Waters introduce Devo (among other bands) at Burger Boogaloo in 2018, an experience marred significantly by the revelations about nearly everyone involved with the label (not the people who produced the festival) being awful people, including several of the acts I enjoyed during the day. Fortunately, Waters continues to be awful in the best possible way, because if he turns out to be a monster there will truly be nothing left to believe in.

Happy belated birthday, John Waters. May you have 75 more.

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