“Unattractive” by Toadies in The Cable Guy When The Cable Guy was released in 1996, it made headlines for two key reasons: star Jim Carrey’s $20 million price tag for the film, and the movie’s less-than-glowing reviews. But local music fans back then were likely thrilled regardless of what critics were saying, thanks to the inclusion of the Toadies' “Unattractive.”
In ’96 the Toadies were just about as hot as post-Ace Ventura Carrey was around here, and this track, which could be heard playing over the car stereo in a scene between Jack Black and Matthew Broderick, is a killer cut that doesn’t get near the love it should. Kelly Dearmore
“Backslider” by Toadies in Black Sheep It seems as though 1996 was a year the comedy fans couldn’t avoid the Toadies. Hoping to build on the momentum Chris Farley established after the success of Tommy Boy the year before, Black Sheep wasn’t the smash hit its predecessor was. But again, fans of local rock had a sweet little Easter egg to make things cooler. Following a funny bit where Farley’s character channels his inner-Matt Foley as a concert security guard, you can hear the thunderous opening riff to “Backslider” searing from the stage. Kelly Dearmore
"Let The Bodies Hit The Floor" by Drowning Pool in Rambo trailer 2008 was the height of late-stage masculinity, with Affliction, Ed Hardy and Fox peppering the street. The housing market is a quivering bubble on the verge of popping. Monster Energy was the beverage of choice for every dirt bike-riding teen in the Midwest. The logical choice here, obviously, was to exhume John Rambo’s ancient corpse and parade it through the streets in order to extract the remaining wealth from lower middle class men. And what better way to soundtrack it than Dallas’ own Drowning Pool, whose inescapable "Let The Bodies Hit The Floor" plays in the worldwide release trailer promising carnage and war to aging and recent kids alike. Straightforward guitar riffs and raging lyrics underscore a fraught and unsure economy, the tension of a near collapse distilled into one violent catharsis. Taylor Frantum
"Dollar Bill Blues" by Townes Van Zandt in Hell Or High Water West Texas banks, like the rattlesnakes that populate the rural desert, are coiled and lying in wait to take advantage of any fool who missteps. Hell Or High Water follows two roguish, hard-luck brothers on their quest to rob every branch from here to Lubbock in an effort to pay back the bank they're robbing with their own money. "Dollar Bill Blues" laments the woes of being broke, in much the same way the melancholy tone seeps through every interaction in the film. Everyone in sight is struggling, pulling doubles without complaint to feed children, endangering lives to ensure their security, if only temporarily. Townes Van Zandt captures a unique existential exhaustion that is learned only in the unsettled, predatory countryside ruled by rich men looking for purpose and squandering it on drink. The only way out is to cheat at their game. Taylor Frantum
“Laura” by Brave Combo in Bullet Brave Combo exist in criminal obscurity given the niche nature of their music, but make no mistake – these Denton polka legends have left their imprint in visual media in many forms. Carl Finch helped compose the score for David Byrne’s 1986 film True Stories and has produced the opening and/or closing themes for anime staples such as Dragon Ball, Yu Yu Hakusho and Case Closed. The band also appeared in an episode of The Simpsons at Matt Groening’s personal request. To add to these impressive achievements, their song “Laura” was part of the soundtrack to the 1996 crime-drama Bullet, starring Tupac Shakur and Mickey Rourke. The film was posthumously released just one month following Shakur’s death, and led to a famously tight friendship between the two co-stars. Garrett Gravley
"The Lord is a Monkey" by Butthole Surfers in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Beavis and Butt-Head Do America featured an all-star voice cast, including then-married couple Demi Moore and Bruce Willis as the villains, Dallas and Muddy Grimes. After finding the titular duo in the desert, well off-course from their mission to steal back a doomsday device, Muddy traps them in the trunk of his car. What Muddy fails to consider is just how easily Beavis and Butt-Head can escape villains and ATF agents alike. When Butt-Head finds a car jack in the trunk and begins, as he puts it, “jacking off,” the trunk opens and the two escape by jumping onto I-81, causing a 400-car pileup in the process. Muddy remains unaware of the commotion, however, as he turns up the heavy, screeching intro of Butthole Surfers’ “The Lord is a Monkey” from their 1996 album, Electriclarryland. David Fletcher
"Timebomb," "Salome" and "Melt Show" by Old 97's in The Break-Up When it comes to Dallas artists in movies, you can go big or obscure. Not many people remember future major movie producer/screenwriter Toby Halbrooks in The Night of White Pants with Selma Blair in 2006, but a lot of people remember Old 97’s in the Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn vehicle, The Break-Up, from the same year. The band performs one of their best-known songs, “Timebomb,” in the film, along with “Salome” and “Melt Show.” Eric Grubbs
"Jump Into The Fire" by Tripping Daisy in The Craft On a soundtrack filled with cover versions of popular songs (especially Love Spit Love’s version of “How Soon is Now?” and Our Lady Peace’s “Tomorrow Never Knows”), legendary locals Tripping Daisy covered Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire.” Tim DeLaughter also co-wrote another song on the soundtrack, “Warning,” which was performed by All Too Much. Eric Grubbs
"Ninja Rap" by Vanilla Ice in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze Just before his career as a top 40 rapper flew off a cliff (and later was resurrected thanks to reality TV), Robert “Vanilla Ice” Van Winkle was paid a lot of money to write and perform “Ninja Rap” in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. It was released in 1991, the same year he appeared in the quickly-forgotten Cool As Ice. Eric Grubbs
“All She Wants To Do Is Dance” by Don Henley in Real Genius The Dallas resident and Eagle put out a plethora of hits during his solo stint in the '80s. You’ll find “The Boys Of Summer,” “Dirty Laundry” and “Sunset Grill” on many a retro playlist. Also included is this gem, “All She Wants To Do Is Dance,” which got a few seconds of fame in the 1985 cult classic Real Genius. It was Val Kilmer, pre-Top Gun, leading a band of horny nerds to a hedonistic, makeshift party in a school theater filled with bikini clad, poofy banged, co-eds. Cody Starr
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE...
Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
David Fletcher writes about music, arts and culture for the Dallas Observer. You can usually find him at a show in Deep Ellum whether he's writing about it or not. A punk scholar and local music enthusiast, David focuses his attention on the artists screaming in the margins of Dallas' music scene.
Taylor Frantum is a music journalist based out of Dallas/Denton,Texas. He has written for various online and print publications, including the Dallas Observer, the Dentonite, ThisNewBand and Monkeys Fighting Robots. He thinks Celebration Rock is one of the greatest albums of the last 20 years, and is more than happy to trade playlists with you, unless you have Tidal.
Garrett Gravley was born and grew up in Dallas. He mostly writes about music, but veers into arts and culture, local news and politics. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and has written for the Dallas Observer since October 2018.
Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.