This was actually kind of difficult to compile – Elvis starred in an unbelievable 33 films, singing an average of ten songs in each. If Hymie’s would just get the intern I’ve been asking for I could have given that person the job of sifting through all of the soundtrack albums for the turkiest of the turkeys. Instead I had to do it myself.
(10) “Yoga Is As Yoga Does” from Easy Come, Easy Go
Funny, when you consider Elvis’ enthusiasm for karate in the early 70s (He studied with Memphis master Kang Rhee for four years). Funnier because its Elvis doing yoga.
(9) “Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce” from Girl Happy
I think if you interviewed a dozen people leaving the theater at the end of this movie, nine of them would have forgotten the plot already. Even by beach party movie standards Girl Happy is pretty stupid. Its almost stupid by Elvis movie standards, but actually there it ranks pretty well.
(8) “Ito Eats” from Blue Hawaii
There’s really not a lot I can add to this.
Okay, I can’t keep my mouth shut any more than Ito can stop eating – Here’s the liberation anthem of fat Hawaiian guys, seldom heard at their marches because bongo drums and ukuleles are too much work to carry around. Usually its just performed acappella around a spit.
(7 & 6) “Poison Ivy League” and “Carny Town” from Roustabout
Roustabout is my favorite Elvis movie. First he’s cruising around on his motorcycle after getting fired for fighting with fancy college boys and then he’s invited to join a traveling carnival run by Barbara Stanwyck. The problem is the songs in Roustabout are some of the very worst. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of debate over including “Poison Ivy League” on a list of the worst Elvis movie songs, but “Carny Town” is included as a bonus because I think it could be a great punk rock anthem if played by the right group. I’d like to hear Dillinger Four take “Carny Town” on with the same fanaticism they gave to “Sally MacLennane”.
Okay, “Hard Knocks” is also included. The songs in Roustabout are really bad! The thing about “Hard Knocks” is that Elvis really could sing the blues. He also hard a hard life. People who thumb their noses at Elvis’ 1969 hit “In the Ghetto” usually don’t understand that he grew up in rural poverty which is sometimes a lot worse than urban poverty. “Hard Knocks”, on the other hand, is about the least soulful song about tough times I have ever heard. What’s really ridiculous is that songwriter Joy Byer’s husband later asserted he wrote the songs from Elvis movies credited to her (At least 10 by my count). Who would want to claim this song?
(5) “Signs of the Zodiac from The Trouble with Girls
If you were a kid and you really liked rock and roll, and you rented a few of these movies (Remember renting movies?), you got a pretty askew view of the world. Between Elvis movie and Douglas Adams books its a wonder I grew into somebody who could succeed at all.
(4) “Song of the Shrimp” from Girls! Girls! Girls!
Girls! Girls! Girls! includes Elvis’ only genuine sea chanty (“Thanks to the Rolling Sea”) and some irresistibly funny tracks when revisited today (“I’d Rather Be Tied” and “We’re Coming in Loaded”) but the goofiest song is “Song of the Shrimp”. In a lot of ways the Elvis movie soundtracks are charmingly naive little vignettes, and Girls! Girls! Girls! is a great example – In this case our little look at Ross Carpenter’s life is a lot of fun even if the songs he sing aren’t.
(3) “The Bullfighter Was A Lady” from Fun in Acapulco
The next track is “There’s No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car”, which nearly made it onto this list. Fun in Acapulco is fun movie and makes for a lively soundtrack, but it has the feeling of wasted potential. If Elvis had followed Edyie Gorme and made an album in Spanish it would probably be his most popular record today.
Okay, so I might as well tell you the truth: If I made a list of my 10 favorite Elvis movie songs it probably wouldn’t be any different. Sure, I love “GI Blues” and really everything from Loving You, but those are great songs. I don’t love them the same way I love these ten tracks.
You’re either going to love Elvis or you’re not, and nothing I can write is going to change your mind. Not going to love Elvis? Well, nuts to you. That’s right. Nuts to you.
(2) “Go East Young Man” from Harum Scarum
The most difficult thing about compiling this list was finding nine songs worst than everything on the soundtrack to Harum Scarum, which is also the very worst of the Elvis movies. Elvis is kidnapped while touring the mideast and forced to assassinate a sheik. Hilarity ensues.
(1) “Dominic” from Stay Away Joe
So far as I can tell the songs in this movie were so bad they never bothered to makde a soundtrack album. I can’t say because this is one of the few Elvis movies I haven’t seen (Did I tell you there are 33 of them?) and I’m not going to watch it now, even for your benefit. There’s just too much else to do.
I have no idea what’s going on in this scene but I really like it.