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LOST SOUNDTRACK CLASSICS: “You’re The Best”

We spend a lot of time on this site talking about the forgotten music of years past. While we tend to focus on Mellow Gold, clearly we could apply the same type of analysis and discussion to a number of different types of music. Music that deserves our love, but has sadly fallen by the wayside. So, um, no time like the present, right?


Yes, that’s right, Jefito and I are collaborating to bring you a brand-new series. One that, again, focuses on that may have slipped from the public’s ears, but are never far from our hearts. Like most blog activity, it was sparked by idle chatter, but we’re really excited about it (actually, I’m excited — Jeff’s really really excited), and we think — nay, we demand — that you won’t be able to help yourself from following this new series from this blog to Jeff’s and back again. Mellowmas was fun, but it was just a warmup.

All right. Enough dicking around. Today, the two of us proudly present:

What is a Lost Soundtrack Classic, you ask? Good question. A Lost Soundtrack Classic is:

1) Primarily from a movie released in the ’80s;

2) A song that was, at the time, either included in the movie or on the soundtrack, but not available otherwise;

3) A song that often accompanies a montage in the movie, usually when the protagonist is finally getting over their hardship and climbing their way up the ladder to success.

There’s a very good possibility your brain is already working overtime, thinking of songs you remember from your favorite (or least favorite) flicks. That’s good — you think like us. We’ve got a robust list of these gems, and we’re going to do something long overdue: we’re going to honor these songs. We’re going to pay them the tribute they deserve. And in as many cases as possible, we’re going to hunt down the artists (some famous, some perhaps not-so-famous, to put it gently) and interview them regarding their important contributions to the world of cinema.

This is a lofty goal, and one we take seriously. We were, after all, at a very impressionable age when these movies and their soundtracks were released; we can’t help but have deep, unironic affection for them, and we weren’t sure how to do them justice. We discussed logistics ad nauseam, and even thought about throwing in the towel a few times. Honestly, it was discouraging.

But then, a voice crept into our heads:

Try to be best
Cause you’re only a man
And a man’s gotta learn to take it
Try to believe
Though the going gets rough
That you gotta hang tough to make it

History repeats itself
Try and you’ll succeed
Never doubt that you’re the one
And you can have your dreams!

And it was then, dear readers, that we knew what we had to do: We had to find out more about "You’re The Best," from The Karate Kid.

Joe Esposito – You’re The Best (download)
From The Karate Kid (Amazon)

You remember "You’re The Best," don’t you? The song that accompanies Daniel-san as he starts taking down members of the Cobra Kai at the All-Valley Karate Tournament? If you don’t, you shouldn’t be here here’s a refresher:

[youtube]-Qae_TUTeGo[/youtube]

It didn’t take a lot of sleuthing to find out two things about this song:

1) The whole world loves it. Everybody from Danny Devito to Sports Guy Bill Simmons to Turkish Star Wars (?) to random YouTube d-bags. This song is adored the world over.

2) Nobody knows a damn thing about the man who brought "You’re The Best" to life: Joe "Bean" Esposito, and that’s where we come in.

According to the bio posted at Joe’s official website, we should all be ashamed of ourselves for not being better acquainted with the Bean; not only does he have a handful of albums to his credit, but he’s a three-time Grammy nominee, as well as "the other voice" in Brenda Russell’s "Piano in the Dark," and he’s contributed music to a whole bunch of movies. (Really. Too many to list. Go check it out.) But we still needed to know more — we demanded the full story behind Esposito and "You’re The Best." And so, without further ado, LOST SOUNDTRACK CLASSICS PRESENTS: An Interview With Joe "Bean" Esposito!

1. You worked on both Rocky III and Rocky IV. From a musical standpoint, which do you feel was the better movie?
As far as which song was better, I originally did "You’re the Best" for Rocky III, but it didn’t make it, so the director, John Avildsen, used it for "Karate Kid." I liked what Survivor did with "Eye of the Tiger," but I also really liked "Hearts on Fire" a lot, and I don’t know if one is better than the other or not — although "Eye of the Tiger" was a hit record. I actually did a version of "Hearts on Fire," but the record company used John Cafferty’s version. I think that was political — he was signed to the Scotti Brothers’ management company. I liked both movies a lot. I think Sylvester Stallone is the king of sequels.

2. To what extent are you aware of the — for lack of a better word — cult surrounding "You’re the Best," and how do you feel about it?
I really can’t explain the song’s cult following. Everyone from my son’s generation knows that song and loves it. My son is a professional baseball player — he pitches for the Colorado Rockies’ triple-A team — and I can’t tell you how many people know that I’m his Dad because of that song. It’s amazing.

That movie, of course was very popular, and everyone uses all the catchphrases. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it — it gives me a little something back for all the years I put in. Don’t forget, I’m in Vegas, singing in lounges, and sometimes it’s a little discouraging. But when someone remembers what I’ve done from a movie, or a hit song I was on, it makes me feel pretty good. I have some real good friends who always encourage me, and it really helps me to keep going.

3. When you saw The Karate Kid, did you actually believe Ralph Macchio could beat anyone up?
I don’t think so. But it was fun watching.

4. Which Stallone was better to work with: Frank or Sylvester?
I enjoyed working with both Sylvester And Frank. Frank is very talented in his own right, and a fine singer. I had a good time being on the set of Staying Alive. When we wrote some songs for that movie, I got to see Sylvester in action, and meet John Travolta.

5. You contributed the song "Lady, Lady, Lady" to the soundtrack for Flashdance. Is it true that you sang backing vocals on the song "What A Feeling?" If so, did you have any reservations about singing the line "I am rhythm now?"
How in the world did you know I sang backgrounds on "What a Feeling"? You guys are amazing! I never thought about singing "I am rhythm now," But it doesn’t bother me at all. I would take another Flashdance anytime! That soundtrack has been very good to me and my family.

Here’s some more trivia: I almost sang "(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life," from Dirty Dancing. Jimmy Ienner, who was the music supervisor on the movie, called me and asked if Donna Summer would be willing to sing something, but she turned it down because of the title. I’m not saying we would have definitely done the song, but you never know.

Oh, the ups and downs of the music business. That’s why when something like "You’re the Best," or Flashdance, or whatever else comes along, you really appreciate it. I’ve been very lucky to have done some of the things I’ve been involved with.

6. Can you give us an update on your career, including your upcoming album?
Right now, I perform and live in Las Vegas. Very different from the music industry — it’s really the casino business. I am writing songs and doing some recording. You can check my website and you will know where I am and what I’m doing.

Special thanks to Joe Esposito for taking the time to speak to us about "You’re The Best" and his long career in the music industry.  Joe’s got two albums on Amazon:  Treated And Released (which, for some unknown reason, is credited to Billy Vera & The Beaters…screw those guys!) and his collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, Solitary Men – check ’em out, why don’t you?  And the next time you’re in Vegas, see if he’s performing. Maybe you can even convince him to sing to you while you’re kicking some punk’s ass.

Okay, it’s finally time: let us know the songs you remember that fit our criteria. We’ll do our very best to cover them all in future editions of LOST SOUNDTRACK CLASSICS!

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  • This is hitting Simmons’ column inside of 72 hours.  No question about it. Brilliant work.

  • As a music geek, I get a lot of friends asking me questions like, "who sings that song that goes…blah blah blah" all the time. I have been asked about "You’re The Best" a lot through the years. People love it!
    My friend is a techno DJ in my old hometown of Queens, NY and he actually plays this song at the end of his set and the crowd actually sings along!
    Another tidbit, I manage a rock band from Missouri called Promise To Burn and they cover this song from time to time. They also cover "No Easy Way Out" by Robert Tepper from the fourth installment of the "Rocky" films. That is a kick ass song!

  • Elaine

    Wow! What a great idea/execution/choice/entry/interview! Thank you, Jason and Jefito. I am so glad to know there are marvelous screwy-music afficionados like you in this world. I’ve already thought of 3 other entries that I bet will show up here. What was it about the 80’s and the obscurity of that ‘one soundtrack song?’

    Did you ask Mr. Esposito “why the ‘bean’?” Is it like Frances Cobain’s middle name?

    This is so exciting!

    p.s. using Opera now. The paragraph breaks seem to be working, finally.

  • Billy K

    Way to knock it out of the park guys.

    My own personal “Lost Soundtrack Classic” (’cause you asked, right?) is Ray Charles’ “Just Because,” which rolled at the end credits of “The Sure Thing.” I tell ya, I’ve been tracking that song down for years. I finally discovered it was on some 80s Ray Charles vinyl-only album that hasn’t come up on eBay for over a year. I mean, it’s LOST. At one point in the 80s I plugged a VCR into my tape deck and dubbed it. You can image the excellent fidelity! I am now resigned to dubbing it off a DVD, which should provide good sound.

    Hooray for rambling personal anecdotes!

    But seriously, great job fellas.

  • David

    Good song. Great interview.

    I cannot picture That man singing Those lines with That voice.

    I can now only assume that Robert Tepper and Tim Capello will also look like someone’s uncles, and not shaggy piles of feathered hair atop some bombers jackets.

  • This series is going to be lots of fun.  Does Joe know that John G. Avildsen only directed Rocky and Rocky V in that franchise?  I’m guessing Stallone, who directed Rocky II, III, IV, and Balboa, offered "You’re the Best" to Avildsen when he couldn’t find a place for it in Rocky III. Awful nice of the Stallion to do that.  I had several friends ask me recently if I could send "You’re the Best" to them over e-mail so they could add it to their exercise playlist on their iPod.

    There’s a sketch-comedy duo in Chicago who wrote an eight-minute Karate Kid rock opera.  You can hear it at http://www.myspace.com/themikeandduaneshow.  And Patton Oswalt wrote a funny biography of Karate Kid villain Johnny Lawrence, but his Web site isn’t featuring it right now.

    How about Frank Stallone’s "Far from Over" from Staying Alive as a future installment?  I’d like to pretend that I only enjoy that song from an ironic distance, but I don’t.  It’s a great song.  Cheesy, sure, but Frank Stallone sells it like crazy.

  • Good job, lads. Now it’s time to uncover whomever did that "Send Me An Angel" song, so prominent in many 80s soundtracks, sounding like the dude who sings with Scorpions, but is not the dude who sings with Scorpions… yet is probably also German.DwD

  • woofpop

    What a way to start! Just amazing..

  • That song, "Send Me An Angel," was done by REAL LIFE. It was featured in a really funny scene in the BMX movie, Rad.

  • By the way, the Scorpions actually did have a song called, "Send Me An Angel" too but it;s an entirely different song and came out in the 90’s.

  • DanChick

    Ooh! Ooh! What a great topic… Some that I think of right away: ‘Apron Strings’ by Everything but the Girl from She’s Having A Baby…"Love Rules’ by Don Henley from Fast Times at Ridgemont High…"It Can’t Rain All The Time’ by Jane Siberry from The Crow…’Nothing in Common’ by the Thompson Twins from, natch, Nothing in Common…
    ‘Spies Like Us’ and ‘No More Lonely Nights’ by McCartney, OK, getting very obscure now, but ‘Love is My Decision’ by Chris DeBurgh, the theme from Arthur II. I think I had the 45 of that one. With the picture sleeve. OK, I’ve embarrassed myself, I must go…

  • ChuckB

    Great concept boys!  Can’t wait to see what follows.  Hmmm…if I can throw one of my own favorites in here for your consideration.  A 1984 or 85′ film called "Tuff Turf" with the title song sung by Southside Johnny.  I have yet to find this cut on anything other than a Rhino vinyl lp.  The soundtrack also turned me on to Jack Mack & the Heart Attack, an LA rock & soul band who perform in the film and have 3 songs on the lp. One that I remember without cranking up my turntable was "So Tuff".  Just a thought.   

  • Good idea, but why limit it to the 80s?  Lots of good movie songs from the 60s and 70s are now hard to find – only yesterday I saw the "Inside Daisy Clover" soundtrack LP on eBay (Andre and Dory Previn) – checked on Amazon and there’s no CD of it.

  • kurt

    oooh…sounds great. "If You Were Here" by the Thompson Twins (Sixteen Candles) comes to mind

  • You may want to consider getting help from Kelly over at Looking at Them, who has a helpful "Soundtrack Saturday" series.

  • Sorry, "help" is the wrong word.  "Collaborative consultation," maybe?

  • Jeremy

    How about that song from Eddie and The Cruisers. John Cafferty or someone sang it.

  • Elaine

    On the daaaarrrrrk side, ohhhhhhhhh yeahhhhh.  I remember that lame movie.  It was one of the first times I noticed movie lip-synch.Hey, anybody remember back when "1999," the Prince album, was transferred to CD, and the data was so ginormous that the disc would have to be a two-set?  The decision was made to drop (at least) one song from the set, if you can believe that ridiculous b.s.  So my purchase didn’t include "DMSR."  I was ticked off!  It took me a while, but I finally tracked it down.  And where did I find it?  On the soundtrack for "Risky Business."  mmm hm.  that’s right.  Keep in mind, this was before the days of amazon.com and the Internet.  I had to pay $30 for the thing.  It was an import, if you can believe it.  For my trouble, I ended up with Muddy Waters and Jeff Beck and Tangerine Dream to boot.  And some tired ass Bob Seger song.Also had a really tough time finding the "Valley Girl" soundtrack, and I kept finding "Fast Times" soundtrack pressings minus "Goodbye, Goodbye," for some reason.

  • BD

    Has this been used in both South Park and Family Guy?

  • Kareem

    Check this out:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzChi6-RwWU"You're the Best" rendition.

  • I nominate “The Best Man in the World” by Ann Wilson from the 1986 (?) Eddie Murphy flick “The Golden Child.” What an awesome song — it sounds a lot like “Never” by Heart. And yet it bombed as a single. Go figure.

  • Here’s a nominee I dare you to (but hope you can) find: "A Fool for Love," from 1986’s The Men’s Club.  It’s performed by Jim Gilstrap and written by Lee Holdridge and John Bettis.  It plays over the closing credits of the movie (sorry, not a montage moment) as Roy Scheider, Craig Wasson, and maybe David Dukes are running along the Golden Gate Bridge.  I’ve always liked this song, but it was never officially released.<br><br>And I’ve mentioned Michael Franks’s "Come Home to You" from 1982’s Author! Author! in the "Mellow Gold" comments before.  One of Franks’s only singer-for-hire gigs?  I’m not sure.  The song was written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

  • tres

    Eek! I could seriously go off on a tangent right now. I think this project may be dangerously too cumbersome. But I admire your ambition.
    I’ll just say, "Who’s Johnny" by El Debarge, who would later be just Debarge.
    Or in keeping with your post, how ’bout the theme song to Karate Kid II, Peter Cetera’s (sp?) "Glory of Love".
    Or two gems off the Goonies sntrk, ‘Goonies R Good Enough’ by Cyndi Lauper, and the super obscure ‘Eight Arms To Hold You’ by The Goon Squad – made in reference to the famously deleted "Octopus scene" in Goonies.
    Preston Smith’s "Oh I Love You So" from Cocktail.
    Theme to St. Elmo’s Fire appropriately called "Man in Motion (St. Elmo’s Fire)", Axl F, and anything from any John Hughes movie is burned on everyone’s brain…like "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo. But I’d say most of the John Hughes stuff doesn’t fall under the category of "Lost"….which I take to mean obscure and/or forgotten, like you have described. That kinda limits it to things like David Bowie’s "Magic Dance" from Labyrinth or ex-Kajagoogoo front man Limahl’s theme song to The Neverending Story. To end this on a manly note, I’ll throw out Kenny Loggins’ "Meet Me Half Way" from Stallone’s arm westling opus ‘Over the Top’. wait a sec, that wasn’t very manly at all…(p.s. sorry I don’t use this "Opera" thingy, I really do make nice paragraphs…) 
     

  • I’m loving all the suggestions so far, but yes, as Tres mentions, it IS called "Lost Soundtrack Classics," with the emphasis on "lost."  This means, unfortunately (or fortunately?) that songs like "Who’s Johnny," "Man In Motion," "On The Dark Side," or anything that even remotely made its way onto a chart of any kind is probably not meant for this series.  But so far, these are great suggestions, and we’re already trying to contact some of these artists…we’ll keep you posted!

  • Good point.  I think Frank Stallone’s "Far from Over" made it into the Top 40 in the summer of ’83.  Damn!

  • Does Lindsey Buckingham’s "Holiday Road" from National Lampoon’s Vacation qualify as a "Lost Classic?" I’m in doubt, as it peaked at no. 82 on the Billboard charts, and even has a video. But to my knowledge it’s never been released on CD – and I’d love to hear the story behind it.

  • Crimson Ghost

    Yes, Holiday Road!  The Rocky soundtracks were full of these gems.  And don’t forget that lost Robert Palmer-less Power Station song at the end of "Commando," "Someway, Somehow, Someone’s Gotta Pay."

  • ABOLUTELY AMAZING!   I really love that song and always wanted to know a bit more about Mr. Exposito. One of my fav soundtrack songs ever.  Great work, Jason! Greetings from Spain.

  • Bryan

    No "lost soundtrack songs" discussion would be complete without including almost the entire soundtrack from "Real Genius".  While it featured a few big hits (Tears For Fears’ "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", Bryan Adams’ "One Night Love Affair and Don Henley’s "All She Wants To Do Is Dance") there were a number of really obscure tunes (mostof them not so surprisingly – during montages in the film).  Chaz Jankel’s "Number One" is the one that always stood out the most to me, but "I’m Falling" (by Comast Angels) and even the obligitary love song "You’re The Only Love (Paul Hyde And The Payolas) were pretty good too. 

  • Somebody tell Bryan to go here:

    http://lookingatthem.blogspot.com/2007/01/repost-soundtrack-saturday-real-genuis.html

    “Holiday Road” is a great suggestion, because it’s a song that everybody remembers but no one can seem to find.

  • Bryan

    Thanks Robert … I hadn’t actually seen that post, but managed to track down all the individual tracks a couple of years ago and made my own soundtrack!  :)

  • Dan

    wow, what a complete & fulfilling exhumation of a ‘lost’ song!

    I’d nominate for your series another truly ‘lost’ song – the Joni Mitchell song deleted after the promo issue of the ‘Grace of My Heart’ soundtrack. (MCA?) didn’t have the licensing! It was replaced by Shawn Colvin covering the same song. Shawn is also in the movie, and of course Allison Anders’ quasi-kinda-sorta Carole King biopic practically BEGS an interview… with variations on ‘what were you thinking??’ Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but boy is it weird when considering all the true-life tales of the girl-group/’60s era it stitches together.

    There’s also a great old James Carr song that comes during the big clinch scene in ‘Only You’ when Andrew McCarthy and Helen Hunt dance and fall in love…

    I think I might have that Southside Johnny Tuff Turf song on a 45…

    Of Montreal or Matt Pond PA covered ‘Holiday Road’ a year or so ago.

  • Notamoto

    Thank you SO much for posting the song, I’ve been looking everywhere for it!!

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  • Eric

    Ok, maybe you can dig up Ray Kennedy and his "brothers in the night" from the movie Uncommon Valor (w Gene Hackman/Patrick Swayze/former Boxer Randall "Tex" Cobb) and do a Lost Soundtrack on just that song. Laughs, ok there were 2 other tracks as well, but how can you beat that final scene of Randall "Tex" Cobb doing some martial arts in the wind, or is tai chi?? Laughs…into the wind to the stylings of …"we’re all brothers in the night, reaching out for somethin’ right." I think I feel a tear welling up. Laughs.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086508/soundtrack
    [Randall "tex" Cobb also is famous, or infamous for his fight against Larry Holmes at the Astrodome for the heavyweight title, it was a brutal affair that left Howard Cossell in shock.]

  • KENNO

    Hey guy that is a kiss ass song and i have been tring 2 get it for ages , my comp is bad so can u please just send me the song. you’re the best if u do.
    ‘crap joke’

  • KENNO

    another good song that people dont no is Warrant-cherry pie

  • KENNO

    i saw a guy the other day and. he was whereing a shirt that said i’m not gay but my husband is.

    The other day i was shopping around and then “BANG” somthing hit me in the face. thats the last time i’m shopping at price attack.

    Can u send me sum more cool songs, do u need my email

  • KENNO

    do you have the karate kid album?

  • Me

    This is GREAT! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I’ve been TRYING to find this song on MP3 without having to buy an entire crappy album! This article was great.. Who would have thought the man has done so much? Keep up the good work! Now I’ve got that song stuck in my head… thanks :P … *runs to find his parachute pants*

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  • Mateo

    A weird song that comes to mind often and difficult to find that I think could count as a lost soundtrack is the song “Chipi Chipi” from Motorcycle Diaries

  • 01gwilson

    awesome stuff!!! just been checking out some street fighter videos as it is being released again on XBOX 360 Arcade, and they had this tune over the top, brought back brilliant memories and iTunes makes you download the whole album that the song is on and the album is a mix one. Thanks again!

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