Welcome to The Remakeinator, a new series where I give classic movie soundtracks a modern makeover: first up, the greatest time travel film of all time
The year is 2018. Film executives are in total panic: the ongoing shortage of original script ideas have left the industry in a state of disaster.
At first, it seemed like the content would never run out. But greed and profit took over, exhausting all remaining storylines and characters before anyone knew what happened. Looting is rampant. Studios steal existing ideas with little to no remorse.
Resources are low, and desperation is high. People say things like: “It’s basically Jaws, but the shark is a lot bigger this time,” or “Hey! Sherlock Holmes kinda sounds like Sherlock Gnomes, why don’t we name a movie that?” It’s an apocalyptic scene.
OK, so things aren’t that bad, but still. From The Predator to Tomb Raider to Halloween, 2018 has been an endless slate of remakes, do-overs and sequels (that’s not to mention the Marvel cinematic universe, yearly 50 Shades of Grey sequels and Disney’s latest animated-to-live-action run).
I’m not here to complain though, just to capitalize. With all of these updated classics on the horizon, it seems like anything is fair game. That’s why I’m introducing The Remakeinator, a new column where I answer one, simple question: “If _____ movie was remade today, what would its soundtrack look like?” First, some questions you may have:
1. Why is it called the Remakeinator? We’re assuming this column, instead of a column, is actually an infinitely intelligent AI program, specifically designed to find the perfect modern songs for new movie remakes. Since The Remakeinator is nearly all-knowing, it found out about the movie Terminator, and, based on that, decided The Remakeinator would be a cool robot name to give itself.
2. So what does it do? The program works on a song-by-song basis. That means for every potential remake, it takes all of the original film’s music and finds new, modern-day tracks that have a similar emotional tone and cultural significance.
3. How much do these remakes differ from the original? As little as possible. We’re assuming the new movie is basically just a 2018 update on the film it’s copying.
4. OK, I think I get it. Good. It’s really not that complicated.
For our first soundtrack, we’re taking on the 1985 classic Back to the Future. There are two reasons for this: first, it’s a movie about time travel, which seems kind of fitting; and second, it’s one of the greatest movies of all time, and I want an excuse to talk about it. Alright, let’s do this:
‘I Like It’ – Cardi B
What it’s replacing: “The Power of Love” – Huey Lewis & The News
When it’s played: In the film’s first scene, when Marty McFly, our puffy-vested teenage protagonist, is riding his skateboard to school.
Why this song: Huey Lewis, one of the most ’80s artists during the most ’80s part of the ’80s, made “The Power of Love” specifically for the original Back to the Future soundtrack. To replace that level of period-appropriateness, we need a song that’s not just energetic and mood-establishing, but also something that feels inescapably of-the-moment. Since Cardi B is about as 2018 as it gets, we’re going to pretend like her infectious song of the summer candidate was actually released in promotion of our remake.
‘D Rose’ – Lil Pump
What it’s replacing: “Out the Window” – Eddie Van Halen
When it’s played: When Marty pretends to be an alien so he can convince the ’50s version of his dad to ask the ’50s version of his mom to the big dance (again, this movie is amazing).
Why this song: We know from the original film that our protagonist is a massive Van Halen fan. In this iconic, Walkman-heavy scene, Marty uses his favorite guitar player to literally torture his father, blasting his ears with the sort of aggressive, futuristic sounds that would not only feel foreign to someone from the ’50s, it might actually cause them physical harm. Since our modern-day remake would logically have to feature a 2018 Marty traveling back to the ’80s, SoundCloud rap seems like the most obstructive and alien-sounding option available.
‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)’ – Whitney Houston
What it’s replacing: “Earth Angel” – The Penguins
When it’s played: When Marty’s parents finally kiss at the high school dance, thus saving him from fading into a bad-guitar-playing ghost.
Why this song: Again, since this is a time travel movie, we have to remember that our remake would be jumping from 2018 into 1988. Since Houston’s 1987 mega-hit is explicitly about finding love at an ’80s dance party, it seems pretty likely that this song could have been playing when Marty’s parents had their first kiss.
‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ – Guns N’ Roses
What it’s replacing: “Johnny B. Goode” – Chuck Berry
When it’s played: Still at the dance, when Marty celebrates saving the day by apparently inventing rock ‘n roll.
Why this song: In what’s likely the most problematic scene in the entire movie, the original Back to the Future uses this song to whitewash the genesis of modern rock music. This time, instead of Marty taking credit for a genre largely pioneered by African American performers, we’ll go for a slightly less racist version, and let him just invent hair metal instead.
‘Don’t Flux With My Capacitor’ – Cardi B
What it’s replacing: “Back in Time” – Huey Lewis & The News
When it’s played: During the film’s closing credits.
Why this song: “Back in Time” was another one of the songs Lewis composed specifically for the original film—apparently, the dude was really available in 1985. Since our remake is sliding Cardi B into this role, let’s assume the studio convinced her to make at least one total sellout song that shamelessly harped on the movie’s plot devices. Let’s also assume though, that as part of that negotiation, the film’s producers agreed to let her name the track, and that “Don’t Flux With My Capacitor” became the biggest hit of 2018.