I was somewhat surprised to hear Burt Bachrach music featured so prominently in Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. Listening to the songs objectively, which I really hadn’t done before, some of them really aren’t bad, and have some really nice chord progressions. I can understand why several of his songs have been covered by rock artists. And the music seemed to fit in the context of the movie, yet all the while I was thinking to myself, this music is from the man who wrote Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!
Notwithstanding that, though, these songs just don’t seem to fit in with the “mod” atmosphere that the movie was trying to create. Was Bachrach ever “cool”, in the sense of being thought of as a part of mod or hip culture? Or was he more middle of the road?
Burt knows a bit about the groovy spy biz. He and Hal David wrote the music for Casino Royale, the original Bond parody. (Love the opening theme, as performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, played over Richard Williams’ unique credits.)
One thing to remember is that the 60s Bond movies and their knockoffs were never quite as hip or trendy as they pretended to be. You’d never hear any of the cutting edge rock music that defined the real Swinging London in a Bond movie, for example.
At heart they were movies made by aging men about what they thought would appeal to people a generation or two younger than them. So you got things like, say, Tom Jones doing the Thunderball theme song. (Jones being only marginally hipper than Bacharach at the time.)
With that plus the Casino Royale connection in mind, Bacharach makes perfect sense.
If you’re going to talk “interesting,” I would suggest that “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” is pretty hip structurally. Try keeping the beat during the instrumental ending and see if those bars of 2/4 don’t throw you.
The problem with “Raindrops” is that it was an anachronistic lyrically-amorphous song shoehorned into Butch for no real purpose but to (a) sell records, and (b) provide a tangential “feel-good” moment that has very little to do with the characters and even less to do with the plot. Every single pop hit that has been used as a pointless bridge in romantic comedies/dramas, etc. with no relationship to the movie can be traced back to the dubious success of that irrelevant song in that overrated western.
I’ll agree that the song is utterly irrelevant to the film; I’ll go farther and say that it even detracts from the film by virtue of its feel just being so wrong for the setting. But Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid an “overrated western”? Blasphemy!
I figure, if we really want to, we can start a new thread to discuss the merits of “Raindrops”. Getting back to the OP, Mike Myers has stated several times in interviews as well as on the commentery tracks on all three DVDs that the original concept of the Austin Powers character came to him while he was driving and Bacharach’s “The Look of Love” came on the radio. The character was born and fleshed out amidst a Bacharach soundtrack. In Myers’ mind Austin and Burt are inseperable.
“Burt Bacharach doesn’t start with an ‘S’.”
“Neither does Hal David.”
“Who’s Hal David?”
“Hal David wrote the words. Burt just wrote the tunes!”
I’ve seen in interviews that alot of what Mike Myer’s does is in homage to his father. For example, Myer’s production company is called “Eric’s Boy”, and this quote about Austin Powers in particular:
“Austin Powers was born out of trying to celebrate my father’s life. My father’s favorites were mine - Peter Sellers, Monty Python, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore…My dad was a guy who loved to be silly; he had a highly prized sense of humor. When I would bring friends home to play table hockey in the basement, if my dad didn’t think they were funny, he wouldn’t let them in the house. ‘They can’t come around,’ he’d say. ‘They’re not bloody funny!’” - Biography, June 1999
Also, his father really liked Bachrach, and I think Myer’s just associates it with that era. Personanly, I think the songs go pretty well with the campy feel of the movie.
I wouldn’t say that the makers of the James Bond movies were attempting to be hip, and the theme songs, though well remembered, were really a marginal aspect of the films. Tom Jones singing Thunderball seems to line up perfectly with the famous themes for other Bond films like Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. I imagine those themes were geared more towards older adults who were too old to belong to the rock-and-roll generation, but were still young enough to go out and have a good time.
As a semi-related aside, about a year ago I lunch at Encounters, the restaurant up in the famous double-arched “Theme Building” at LAX. I amused to notice that they played what I like to call “Jet Set” music, mainly easy-listening MOR pop of the mid 1960s. I imagine that the bulk of the air-travelling public of the time comprised higher level business travellers and other well dressed older adults who didn’t go for rock, so, for me, music like Burt Bachrach’s is jet set music.
As for Austin Powers, it does seem that the producers did conflate disparate aspects of 1960’s life and culture that really had very little to do with each other.