For years, rumors swirled that Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon was intended to serve as a sort of alternate soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. A number of songs fit certain scenes a little too perfectly for some viewers. Though the idea had made the rounds practically since the disc's release, it wasn't until more recently -- say, a decade or so ago -- that the theory of a possible connection between the two was given much credence by anyone save for those who healthily pursued better living through chemistry. It was seen as a joke, or, at best, an urban myth.
While it was once dismissed as a stoner's fantasy, The Dark Side of the Rainbow (as proponents of the synchronicity theory refer to it) was recently legitimized. Last month Turner Classic Movies aired The Wizard of Oz, allowing satellite users to switch to an alternate channel to hear the film properly aligned with The Dark Side of the Moon. Robert Osborne, host of the renamed The Dark Side of Oz (Turner's version), was on hand to give viewers watching the film on standard cable a few tips, as well as point out the more interesting "syncs." (According to the "official" Dark Side/Oz Web site, there are 88 confirmed syncs.)
After doing some digging around on the Internet -- Web sites on this subject seem to be as prevalent as, say, air -- we found quite a few other interesting combinations. For instance: 'N SYNC's No Strings Attached and Kids; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the soundtrack to Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo; Citizen Kane and the Beatles' Revolver; Michael Jackson's Captain Eo and Prince's Dirty Mind; Gone With the Wind and Rush's 2112; and Court TV's "gavel-to-gavel" coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial and Puff Daddy's Forever.
Though those are all very intriguing, we stumbled on the real mother lode while poking around on a Magic: The Gathering Web board. What follows is a sampling of what we found -- some obvious, others gloriously obscure. Enjoy.
Battlefield Earth and John Travolta's first two solo albums -- 1976's eponymous effort and the following year's Can't Let You Go
Only an egomaniac would use his producer status to ensure that a $100 million-plus sci-fi comedy (wait -- those weren't jokes?) would follow closely in the footsteps of a forgotten singing career. Right? As it happens, John Travolta is that egomaniac. Travolta insisted that all of his co-stars wear digital watches that he had personally synchronized with certain tracks from the albums, so no one would miss any of their marks.
He'd tried the technique once before (1989's The Experts), but after a conflict with castmate Arye Gross (over a dance number meant to coincide with "Slow Dancing," from Can't Let You Go), decided to drop the idea. However, after Pulp Fiction made him a star again, apparently he spent several million dollars re-cutting the film to fit with his first two solo albums. Only one copy of the new version of The Experts exists.
Key Sync Moment:
As Travolta (playing Terl, Psychlo chief of security) complains to Ker (an unrecognizable Forest Whitaker) about how hard it is to follow up the relatively easy conquest of Earth's "man-animals," his dialogue is directly lifted from the last minute of "Big Trouble," off John Travolta. (If cued up right, both Travolta performances of the lyrics overlap seamlessly.) The scene takes on a new tenderness, and is less about Terl's complaints about conquering another world, and more about conquering his feelings for Ker. Stunning.
Footloose and Pansy Division's Pile Up and Wish I'd Taken Pictures
The fact that these two Queercore collections from the San Francisco band sync up so perfectly with Kevin Bacon's 1984 breakout hit confirms most people's suspicions that Footloose is actually a homosexual coming-of-age story.
Let's be serious. No man that into dancing could possibly be straight.
Key Sync Moments:
The song "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other" kicks in when a group of Stetson-wearing hicks -- led by Chris Penn's hayseed character Willard -- practice dancing with each other.
Toward the end of the film, during Bacon's climactic get-on-the-table-and-dance-like-there's-no-tomorrow scene, we hear the opening chords to Pansy Division's anthemic "Kevin" -- an obvious allusion to our ass-shakin' hero.
Where the Boys Aren't 10 and Britney Spears' Oops! . . . I Did It Again
As you might imagine, this started out as wishful thinking more than anything else. Y'know, Britney, girl-on-girl porn -- imagine the possibilities. And yet, after it was noted that the first "action" scene hit the screen as Spears began to deliver her version of the Stones classic "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," well, we don't have to connect those dots, do we?
Actually, this sync probably is the figment of someone's fevered imagination. Then again, the on-screen action of Kobe Tai, Lexus Locklear and Heather Hunter in this ninth sequel to the classic Where the Boys Aren't fits in a little too well with Britney's heated performance of such songs as "What U See (Is What U Get)," "One Kiss From Now" and "Can't Make You Love Me."
Key Sync Moment:
All of it, brutha!
Good Burger and Rage Against the Machine's The Battle of Los Angeles
Most folks wouldn't ever dream that Rage Against the Machine's politically charged opus was actually inspired by Good Burger, the 1997 kids' feature starring Nickelodeon icons Kenan and Kel. But a closer comparison of the two reveals several eerie similarities and connections.
In the film, Kenan and Kel play employees of a neighborhood hamburger stand engaged in a war against faceless corporate tyranny. On the record, the songs focus on a working-class war against faceless corporate tyranny.
In Good Burger, the fast-food battle is waged in the city of Los Angeles. Rage Against the Machine's album is called The Battle of Los Angeles.
An interesting side note: Actor Abe Vigoda, who co-stars in Good Burger as a geriatric French-fry jockey, also played bass on Rage's 1996 record Evil Empire.
Key Sync Moment:
The scene where Kenan's character, Dexter, dozes off while manning the grill. As flames engulf the kitchen, we hear the strains of Rage's "Sleep Now in the Fire."
It's a Wonderful Life and the Lords of Acid's Lust
Director Frank Capra's 1946 motion picture It's a Wonderful Life has long been celebrated as the perennial holiday fave. But few know that the film was also the inspiration for the Lords of Acid's 1991 dance-floor sex classic Lust.
Though often viewed as a bittersweet fable of small-town life, it's the seething erotic tension between stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed that carries the film. So real and intense are the onscreen sparks that it inclines one to believe the old Hollywood rumor that the stammering, geeky Stewart was actually quite the poon hound (and hung like a horse, according to legend).
Regardless of old movieland innuendo, syncing Lust and Life makes it abundantly clear there was a lot more in George Bailey's pants than just ZuZu's petals.
Key Sync Moments:
Late in the film, a "born-again" Stewart returns home to his wife and family. As the actor embraces Reed, he gazes hungrily into her eyes and plants one on her lips, at which point the Lords break into a "Kiss that body/Suck that body/Feel that body/Touch that body" refrain.
In the movie's final scene, Reed gets a tad nas-tay herself. While everyone else is in the midst of their holiday mirth, singing "Auld Lang Syne," she turns and whispers into Stewart's ear. At that very moment, the album-closing "I Sit on Acid" remix reaches its chorus, making it appear that Reed is actually mouthing the words "Sit on your face, I wanna sit on your face."
Years later director Paul Verhoeven was said to have used this scene as the inspiration for his 1992 kink-a-thon Basic Instinct.
David Lynch's eight-hour director's cut of Dune and Phish's six-CD boxed set Hampton Comes Alive
The fact that these two testaments to unchecked excess could match up like PB&J should not come as a surprise to anyone . . . who isn't completely stoned. The real shock here is that Vermont's finest managed to pull off the trick so effortlessly in a live setting, even allowing time for those listeners with single-tray CD players to switch discs without missing any of the fun . . . especially while stoned.
Or maybe it wasn't quite so effortless. According to a recent interview given by Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, the band had a handful of television monitors set up at strategic points around the stage, so the timing would be spot-on . . . even while they were righteously stoned. And word is, the group members put themselves through a Dune boot camp of sorts. They read passages from Frank Herbert's novel to one another and refused to answer to anything other than the character names they had selected (Anastasio, for example, was Paul Atreides, played by a young Kyle MacLachlan in the film), even dressing in full costume and makeup . . . mostly while stoned.
Whatever, it worked -- that is, if you can reasonably call a six-disc set, devoted to one concert, that matches up (in the most minute of ways) with a ponderous version of a film that was overly long in the first place a "success." Oh, you can? Cool.
An interesting "Easter egg" on Hampton Comes Alive: MacLachlan makes an uncredited cameo at the end of disc six, adding back-up vocals to the group's cover of Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping."
Key Sync Moments:
During the scene in which Duke Leto Atreides is betrayed and murdered by the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (played by Armed and Dangerous' Kenneth McMillan), Phish launches into a rousing version of the Will Smith hit "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It." As the climactic killing occurs, Anastasio sings, "No love for the haters, the haters." Exactly.
ABC's in-its-prime TGIF lineup (Perfect Strangers, Full House, Growing Pains, etc.) and G.G. Allin's Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies
The late, and not exactly lamented, hard-core punk icon was notorious in his hatred of, well, pretty much everything. Top spot on his literal shit list was reserved, however, for ABC's Friday-night block of back-to-back-to-back-to-back sitcoms, each one, he believed, a little cornier than the one before it.
Eventually, his loathing manifested itself in this disc, called by some That G.G. Is Fucked -- TGIF, get it? -- because of its long-rumored association with ABC's end-of-the-week lineup. (Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies corresponds closely with the shows broadcast on Friday, January 15, 1988.) Coked-up and only marginally coherent (as ever), Allin didn't appear to have a concept album in him at the time. However, this last gasp of somewhat creative crudeness proves that he did. Unfortunately.
Key Sync Moments:
Toward the end of the episode of Perfect Strangers, while Balki Bartokomous and "Coosin" Larry Appleton engage in their oft-seen "Dance of Joy," Allin provides the pair with some dancin' music, the brutal "Suck My Ass It Smells." Jo Marie Payton-Noble (as Harriet Winslow, later to turn up on Family Matters) appears to mutter the title of the song as she turns away in disgust.
Later, during Growing Pains, as Jason and Maggie and the rest of the Seaver clan celebrate the birth of their fourth child, Krissy, Allin tears into a startlingly apropos two-fer, "Family" and "Young Little Meat." Song No. 2 begins immediately after Ben Seaver compares his newborn sister's appearance to "a big Vienna sausage." We'd guess Allin had something else in mind.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.