Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Themes from E.T." by Walter Murphy

Song#:  1121
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  47
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop, Instrumental

Pop Bits:  The film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" was release to theaters on June 11, 1982, and everyone quickly realized the film was going to be a blockbuster. This included folks who saw the film as a way to market their own products. What Meco was to film scores (his disco-ish "Star Wars Theme" hit #1 in 1977), Walter Murphy was to classical music. He stormed the charts in 1976 with a disco take on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. "A Fifth of Beethoven" reached #1 and led to Murphy arranging and transforming other classical pieces. When "E.T." came along, it seems Murphy beat Meco to the punch by quickly getting out a danceable version of themes from the film's score. The film's popularity most likely gave this single a boost and it came close to hitting the Top 40. It would be Murphy's final pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  Murphy is an excellent arranger and musician, but man, this is just ripping off Meco's territory something fierce. However, Meco's "Star Wars" was almost a rip of "A Fifth of Beethoven." So I guess what goes around... I don't particularly like these types of singles. They usually come off as cheezy, cash-in products. This one is no exception. However, I will say that Murphy's arrangement - in particular the Bacharach-ish, easy listening mid-section - is well done. And he at least refrains from using dorky sound effects. So even though it is a pop culture marketing product, it's quality ranks it higher than others of the ilk.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Murphy's hit "A Fifth of Beethoven" was basically a fluke. He had long been supplying music and arrangements for commercials and while working on a disco theme for an ad, it was suggested to him that updating a classical piece might be interesting. Murphy worked up a demo and shopped it around. Private Stock Records showed interest and signed Murphy. Originally the single was listed by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band, which didn't exist. Murphy basically performed the song himself but the label thought a group name would make it sell better. The song went on to hit #1, but subsequent releases were then just credited to Walter Murphy.  2) Murphy has done a lot of music for TV as well. Most famously, he has worked on all of Seth MacFarlane's shows including "Family Guy," which got him an Emmy. He also got an Oscar nod for Best Original Song for co-writing "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from MacFarlane's 2012 film "Ted."


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