Elizabeth Sankey of Summer Camp on the Top 5 Musical Moments from Romantic Comedies | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Elizabeth Sankey of Summer Camp on the Top 5 Musical Moments from Romantic Comedies

These Precious Moments We Have So Few

Feb 14, 2020 By Elizabeth Sankey
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Real life relationships aren't built on big romantic gestures and men running down crowded streets in the rain to declare their love to a beautiful woman before she catches on a train out of town forever. Real life relationships take work, trust, nurture, care, and time. Hence romantic comedies sometimes get a bad wrap. The much-maligned film genre often sets up unreleastic expections for dating and falling in love, not to mention the movies easily succumb to schmaltz and clichés. But it takes real skill to actually produce a good romantic comedy, one that features genuine characters and is both romantic and funny. Some, such as writer/director Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Noting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary, Love Actually, About Time), are masters of the genre. Others, such as actress Katherine Heigl, are repeat offenders at making decidedly unfunny and unromantic movies (not counting Heigl's Knocked Up and perhaps 27 Dresses).

The new album by English duo Summer Camp is entitled Romantic Comedy and is a companion piece to a documentary of the same name directed by the band's Elizabeth Sankey. Romantic Comedy the documentary examines romantic comedies via clips of over 160 films and interviews with actors, filmmakers, and writers and has screened at various notable film festivals. Romantic Comedy the album features new original songs featured in the film or inspired by the documentary and is fittingly out today (aka Valentine's Day). The album includes such song titles as "You Complete Me" (a Jerry Maguire reference) and "It Happened One Night" and is interspersed with audio clips from classic romantic comedy movies. Summer Camp are also built around a true romance, as Sankey's bandmate, Jeremy Warmsley, is also her husband. Keeping all this in mind, we asked Sankey to put together a romantic comedy-themed list and she focused on her favorite musical moments from romantic comedies, scenes where characters sing (not always well). Check out her picks below.

"Somebody Kill Me Please" from The Wedding Singer

When this movie came out I loved it so much-and Sandler's songs in it-that I bought the soundtrack. I own this soundtrack on CD. That is who I am. I listened to it all the time, and especially this song, Sandler's Cure-inspired ballad to his fiancée. (Although he wrote half when they were together and the other half when she'd left him, so there's a dramatic shift in tone...) It's a brilliant song, hilarious, brutal, and heartbreaking. It still makes me so happy. I also wanted to share this other great scene from the film, which isn't a song, but is Steve Buscemi's cameo as an out of control best man doing a speech at his brother's wedding.

"The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" from When Harry Met Sally

There is so much to adore about this performance. Let's start with how excited Harry is when he spots the karaoke machine in the store-imagine karaoke being a foreign and novel concept! And then there's the way he and Sally have to share the piece of paper with the lyrics, and why oh why, did Harry choose a show tune from Oklahoma? It's all such a perfect set up for the moment Harry spots his ex-wife slowing walking towards him, accompanied by the man she left him for. His face falls (and of course Sally assumes it's her terrible voice that's putting him off) and then the four of them have an awkward, stilted conversation, while the upbeat backing track from the karaoke machine continues bouncing along. We've all bumped into an ex and felt unprepared and flummoxed, but rarely is that portrayed so well on screen. As Harry says later as he's watching his friends, a new couple, move in together, "We started out like this, Helen and I. We had blank walls, we hung things, we picked out tiles together. Then you know what happens? Six years later you find yourself singing 'Surrey With the Fringe on Top' in front of Ira!"

"Inside of You" from Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Just writing the name of this track made me do a full body cringe. Russell Brand excels as the foil to Jason Segel's protagonist in this break-up classic. While Segel's Peter Bretter is timid, sweet, and loves, well, muppets; Brand's rockstar Aldous Snow is outrageous, sexually provocative, and wild. And those qualities are never more clear than in this scene where he groin thrusts in leather pants while singing a song to his new girlfriend (Peter's recent ex-girlfriend) about how he wants to be inside of...well, you get it. And poor Peter has to stand in the audience watching, unable to look away as Aldous gyrates violently while wearing a shirt open to the navel. 

"Pop Goes My Heart" from Music and Lyrics

I think my favorite thing about this song-and the well-conceived mock music video-is the fact that Hugh Grant so clearly loathed having to do it. In interviews around the time of the release of the film, he said that the only way he got through this performance was alcohol. He told Adam Schlesinger (the Fountains of Wayne bassist, who coached him on how to be a pop star) that he was completely miscast in the role, and Adam said he would mention various '80s music references to Grant while they were working, and he didn't know a single person he was talking about. Which isn't surprising since in this interview Grant said that he doesn't really like music-his record collection consists of the soundtracks to Godspell and Sandie Shaw's '60s pop hit, "Puppet on a String." So yes, please enjoy the spectacle of him having to pretend to play the keyboards and dance in a frilly shirt and a terrible wig.

"I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" from My Best Friend's Wedding

Julia Roberts' character in this film (who is weirdly also called "Jules") is beyond horrible. After hearing that her best (straight) male friend, Michael, is getting married, she decides she wants to marry him instead and sets out to destroy the wedding. When she meets his fiancée, the perky, innocent Kimberley aka "Kimmy" (Cameron Diaz), she sets about undermining and ridiculing her at every possible opportunity. And in perhaps the cruellest scene of all, she forces Kimmy to do karaoke, when she knows full well the poor woman can't bear singing. But in the end it is Kimmy who triumphs, as Michael loves her for trying for him when it's clear she is a terrible singer. (I love that this is clearly Cameron Diaz singing for real and not being very good and you can sense her actual panic. It's so charming when she gets all wobbly and giggly.)

www.wearesummercamp.com

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