Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ben Affleck on “Air” 80s Soundtrack: Couldn’t Get Van Halen Song Because of Group Infighting Was Too Chaotic


Ben Affleck, director of the excellent movie, “Air,” coming April 5th to theaters, has one of the best soundtracks of all time.

There are dozens of hit songs in “Air,” and Affleck chose them all himself, not using a music supervisor. The music, all from the early to mid 80s, moves along the story of how Michael Jordan became Nike’s sports mascot before he was even an NBA star perfectly. In fact, there are several nods to the theme from “Beverly Hills Cop.”

And it all works, just like in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. It’s unclear so far if there will be a CD or iTunes collection. If so, it would be a smash hit.

One song that should get a big push is one of my all time favorites: “Tempted,” by Squeeze, the most under-rated group in pop history. The great Squeeze duo Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford wrote the song. You can hear them and Elvis Costello singing back up on the record to Paul Carrack’s soulful lead. It’s one of the greatest pop songs of all time.

So how did “Tempted” from 1982 wind up in “Air”?

Affleck told me this week at the “Air” Party in New York: “Originally I had Jump by Van Halen in that spot. But you can’t license Jump or any Van Halen song. Apparently they’re all fighting with each other and no one can agree on anything. So we gave up. I’m much happier with Tempted anyway.”

When “Air” launches, it would be swell if “Tempted” goes the way of Kate Bush’s “Running Up that Hill” and gets discovered by a whole new generation.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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