When Herbert Ross’s “Footloose” hit theaters 27 years ago, the film managed a brush with Oscar in the form of a pair of nominations for Best Original Song. Kenny Loggins’s titular track blew up radio request lines and haunts Kevin Bacon to this day: The actor actually pays bands NOT to play the song when he attends weddings. (My colleague, Melinda Newman, recently posted the video for Blake Shelton’s country re-do of the track.)
Deniece Williams’s “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” meanwhile, was a staple of junior high school dances for years after the film hit. Both songs lost the Oscar to Stevie Wonder’s inarguable “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from Gene Wilder’s “The Woman in Red,” but Craig Brewer’s remake of Ross’s film could swing around for some retribution.
As it turns out, another pair of original songs were written this time around, though considerably different from the poppy jams of 1984. The first, “Fake I.D.,” is a twangy country track performed by Big & Rich featuring Gretchen Wilson. It’s used during a big dance sequence in the film. The second, Zac Brown’s “Where the River Goes,” is a soulful little tune from the country/southern rocker. It’s used early on to establish the main character’s journey to his new home in the south, before the story really begins to take off.
Since both songs are used within the context of the narrative, rather than as throwaway tracks over closing credits, they’ll have a leg up when the music branch votes for nominees later in the season. Remember, members attend a screening of clips featuring the eligible songs’ usage in their respective films, so if your tune has some visual storytelling built around it, you’re at least putting your best foot forward with voters.
“Fake I.D.” and “Where the River Goes” join a steadily growing list of contenders that already includes Alan Menken’s “Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America: The First Avenger” and Chris Cornell’s “The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher,” among others. We’ll continue charting new contenders as they pop up before digging into the category to set the field in a Tech Support column later in the season.
Have a listen to both “Footloose” songs below. The film is set for release on Friday, October 14.