New Movie Ideas that Need to Happen: Tunes to 'Toons (or Live Action)

Lisa Tate

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For the past two week, I've dug into some ideas to get some relatively untapped story ideas for movies, from historical figures to comic books that go ignored while others get 1,001 reboots.

This week, I thought it would be fun to look at a couple of songs with lyrics that could inspire some good things. I'm not talking about music videos, as history and current trends pretty much show us videos don't always give us the interpretation of the song we want. Some are great, but sometimes, they are so off-base they can ruin a song. No, I'm talking about actual full-on movies inspired by song lyrics.

Turning songs into shows and movies isn't new. Remember that trend in the the 70s and 80s where every song written by Kenny Rogers was a made-for-television movie, not to mention the cheesy western based on "Desperado," the screwball "Harper Valley PTA," and the Twin Peaks-for-rednecks, "Ode to Billie Joe"?

There is also hardly a Christmas song that hasn't been turned into an animated classic or musical, and biopics for musicians like to use their iconic songs as a title (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Rose).

Classic Beatles song titles find themselves the titles of movies from the Fab Four's own "Yellow Submarine" and "Help," to Danny Boyle's latest, Yesterday. This upcoming film is about young musician who finds himself the only person on Earth who remembers the music of the Beatles. I have high hopes for this one:

Even with the easy access to YouTube music videos, a good song can inspire a completely personal mental story by anyone with an imagination. There are plenty of songs, old and new, that could set off a few creative sparks from screenwriters. Due to space however, I'll give you just three examples.

"100 Bad Days" by AJR:

The operative lyrics of this one is the exceptionally catchy riff:

A hundred bad days made a hundred good stories.
A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties.

The brother band AJR's latest single shares how best to look at the bad experiences in our lives, but they only give us a couple examples:

Remember when we all got drunk?
I ended up with two broke thumbs
Oh my God, I felt so dumb. Lucky me.

Movie folk love stories with numbers, such as 500 Days of Summer, which was good, 27 Dresses, which was horrible, and 28 Days Later, which was awesome (but then again I love zombie movies). AJR's lyrics are already clever and compelling, and there are so many directions this one could take. For me, AJR tells a story we can all relate to. Yes, crap will happen, but it all becomes memories. Make the most of them, and learn from them.

I would like to see a "how did you get to where you are now" story of someone who has found success in the world, told in flashbacks. It could be an emotional rollercoaster from heartbreaking sequences to horror to high comedy. I mean, there's "100 Bad Days" to work with here.

"Down By The Water" by PJ Harvey:

There are no two ways about it, this has always been a disturbing and depressing song. Yet, we all have it on our song lists, because PJ Harvey rocks.

Normally, I wouldn't go anywhere near wanting to see a movie made about a mom who drowns her daughter only to be haunted by her actions, but like the waters, this story pulls you in.

What if we took this lyrical psychological thriller, and gave it a little ghost story kick? Daughter isn't happy about what happened to her either!

What did you do to me...Mother?

I really want to see someone like David Lynch give this one a go...

Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water.
Come back here, man, gimme my daughter....

"Space Oddity" by David Bowie:

Do you know how many movies and shows have made use of David Bowie's classic space tragedy? Me neither, but it has been a bunch.

This song plays prominently in films all the time, for comic effect, drug-induced deep-thinking, romantic melancholy, or just as a nostalgic celebration of Bowie's influence on the culture.

It has even been sung on the Space Shuttle, and been "reinterpreted" in a 1980s new wave hit: "Major Tom" by Peter Schilling (getting stuck in your head in Four, Three...Two...One...).

Still, Bowie's song deserves so much more.

This story of Major Tom's ill-fated space flight has as many memorable one-liners as any science fiction: "Ground Control to Major Tom"..."the papers want to know whose shirts you wear"..."Planet Earth is blue...And there's nothing I can do."

It could be a trippy companion to films like The Martian, Gravity, or Moon, if it is done right.

Make sure Major Tom isn't just two-dimensional; give us a reason for whatever caused that malfunction in the first place, and let us know, "What happened to Major Tom?"

Or don't. Leave it to mystery and speculation, much like Bowie's musical masterpiece, which still has us talking.

There's currently a biopic in development based on the life of Bowie, Stardust, but "Space Oddity" could stand alone as a dark science fiction.

All songs, good or bad, instrumentals and vocal-driven pieces, tell us a story, and some even make to the big screen. What songs do you feel could make it there next? There's at least 100 good stories out there.

Next Week: The final in the series looks at books, of course.

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