Song Of The Day 10/31/2015: Sylvester Stallone – “Drinkenstein”

Halloween Week – Haven’t I always taken care of you? Have I not put your own comfort and tranquility above my own, shareholders? The song reserved for All Hallows’ Eve itself had to be a horror show of crushing disappointment, and I think Sylvester Stallone singing country fits both bills. Break off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar, you little imps.

Currently sporting a robust 15% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, Rhinestone was a 1984 music comedy that relied on the Pygmalion archetype. Dolly Parton played a bar singer in New York who, to get out of a terrible contract, bets that she can turn approbation-challenged cab driver Sylvester Stallone into a country star in just two weeks. By the end of that sentence you will have figured out the plot of the whole movie. If you must indulge I’m sure it’s on VHS.

Parton wrote many of the film’s songs. Despite Dolly’s having been commodified by Hollywood to be its resident hayseed girl for most of the ’80s, she’s a usually great songwriter, an extremely underrated instrumentalist and one of country music history’s most fiercely smart business people. To paraphrase Roger Ebert’s review of Death to Smoochy, “Drinkenstein” is a bad song that could only have been written by someone who is actually enormously talented. The concept’s there, you can almost recreate the crackle of its inspiration. It’s just done in by some terrible one-off lines and its being sung by Sylvester Stallone. Perhaps he should have given it to his brother Frank. In any case, "Drinkenstein" "won" the 1984 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song from a motion picture --  beating out lowlights from Freddie Mercury and Prince, as well another song ("Sweet Lovin' Friends") from Rhinestone.

Rhinestone screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson, who strove to get his name off the final product, later redeemed himself considerably by penning Field of Dreams. Blandly-named director Bob Clark, who reportedly took over the film for Mike Nichols, had just done a victory lap for the Porky’s series and the eventual yuletide classic A Christmas Story. Stallone became a wordless colophon for American jingoism (despite his actually being very shrewd himself) and Dolly became great again. Everyone agreed it was the best Halloween ever, but maybe next year we should just watch Purple Rain.

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