movie music beatdown vol. 8: you’re the best

If we included Karate Kid, it wouldn’t be fair.

So when you’re talking about what movies uses You’re the Best (Around), you can’t even talk about Karate Kid because there is a great argument to be made that it is the best movie-music song of all time. Or at least the 80s.

Think about it: The music trend of the decade was the montage. Like Matt Parker and Trey Stone (more on them later) said in Team America, even Rocky had one. And when it comes to putting music to a series of quick-take scenes to advance a story, nothing was as good as the “Daniel moves through the chumps of the All Valley Karate Championships” montage set to You’re the Best. Nothing even came close. It may have been the definitive movie music scene of the 80s.

So when another movie/TV show uses it, it’s an homage. You’ve got a better chance of seeing Tommy Gavin give up drinking for good than recognizing You’re the Best from anything other than Karate Kid. When you hear it, you think, “Hey, the Karate Kid song! Go Daniel-san, beat Dutch!”

But who did their homages better? It’s Wednesday, so the MOVIE MUSIC BEATDOWN is here to answer that question:

Song: You’re the Best (Around)

MovieTV show 1: South Park, episode titled The Losing Edge (starts at the 2:08 mark)

The scene: The kids’ Little League team is good — but that’s bad. They hate baseball, and they want it to end, so they try to lose. Only they find out every other team in the state is trying to do the same thing. The teams try to out-lose themselves over about four games, a perfect time to speed things up with a sped-up version of You’re the Best. All the while, Randy Marsh wears the stereotype of “Little League dad” like a comfortable glove. He eggs on other dads to fight — including once by taunting a Hispanic team with an English-to-Spanish translation book, “Pueblo no bueno!” When the cops inevitably take him away each time, he sarcastically recites the same line, which instantly skyrocketed into the top tier of quotable South Park lines: “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was America? I thought this was a free country?” The only thing that bugs me about this scene is the throw-away Cartman lines of him fighting with the ump. Score: 8

Appropriateness: Parker and Stone obviously have a love-hate thing going with montages. They know they’re cheap way to move the story along, and they don’t like doing anything cheap. Still need them though, and they’ve used them repeatedly. But hey, if you need to use a montage, why not steal the best montage song ever? That way the trained ears know exactly what you’re doing with your intention to specifically make fun of scenes like this, and it still turns out to be a great scene because you can’t help singing along with this song comes on. Score: 9

The episode: It’s full of laughs, but you can say that for 90 percent of South Park episodes. You get the feeling that this whole thing got cobbled together by Parker and Stone because they read in the paper about one of these idiot Little League dads. Or their dads were one of these guys. The kids are like scenery in this, and south Park is never as good when the whole thing is about the adults. Even Kyle’s cousin is more dominant in this episode. When you have an episode that misuses Cartman, one of the five best TV characters of all-time, then you’re in trouble. I totally understand their thinking, that the show isn’t just about Cartman, and every now and then they have to revolve the episode around someone else. That’s fine and dandy. But there isn’t another episode that denigrates him more than the obvious, “Make him a catcher and have him fight with the ump. Oh, and in the ultimate cliche, let’s have him kick dirt on the ump.” It’s sad, really. Score: 4

Movie/TV show 2: King of Kong (That’s not video, but it’s a good link about the movie and song in case you haven’t seen it. There’s no video available for the scene.)

The scene: Loveable Donkey Kong champ Steve Wiebe attends what is billed as the biggest video game competition in the country at some place in Vermont that is largely considered one of the best arcades in the world. What’s more amazing, that Wiebe would fly across country to try and prove his Donkey Kong score, or that the best arcade in the country is in Vermont? It’s a toss-up. When poor Steve gets there and finds out his opponent and score challenger Billy Mitchell — one of the most sniveling movie villains you’re ever going to see — isn’t going to show up, it breaks your heart. While Steve is practicing his Donkey Kong skillz, which I imagine are something like nunchuck skillz, and finding all this out, You’re the Best blares in the background. It’s an OK scene. Score: 7

Appropriateness: They’re trying to get through a 80s-throwback-style montage scene about a game from the 80s, so of course you have to pick You’re the Best. It’s a moral imperative. This goes past homage though and dangerously borders on a straight copy because it’s such an easy pick. Score: 7

The movie: After Hoop Dreams, King of Kong is my favorite documentary of all time. There is something so infantile and wasteful about it that you can’t turn away from two grown men stewing over who is the best Donkey Kong player in the world. From May 2004 to March 2005, I was working as a for-hire correspondent and let’s just say I had a lot of time on my hands. When my wife saw this movie in early 2008, she literally shuttered thinking, “That could have been you.” If I had a Ms. Pac Man game arcade game in my possession, it would have been me. As it was, all I did was finish about 10 seasons of Madden 05 finally beating the computer at All-Madden level playing with the 49ers. King of Kong is the dream of every child of the 80s, the guys who in school spent all their time hunched over the machine with all the other pale, friendless virgins (my congrats to the first person who can tell me what that line is from, leave it in the comments). You may have been the best of your friends, you may even have been the best at the arcade — but you always wanted to prove you were the best in the world, and you never got that chance. Then there was always that guy in the arcade who “accidentally” pulled the plug and erased your high score. That’s Billy Mitchell. Score: 9.5

Decision: King of Kong 23.5, South Park 21. Neither of these pass the test, “What do you remember this song from?” because it’s always going to be Karate Kid. But when you think of which one imitated it better, you’re going to think King of Kong — as long as you’ve seen it. If you haven’t and you like video games in any way, shape or form, you need to rent it. Not tomorrow, not after lunch — now.

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