First Hit #1: March 31, 1984
The best evidence of our current ’80s revival is the unnecessary remake of Footloose. Did we really need to revisit the tale of a town where dancing is banned? Probably not, while Footloose is one of those films that defined the earlier decade – warehouse dancing! – it’s not really something that needs to be revisited, and would likely suffer from the effort. Did the new picture have Kevin Bacon? No, because Kevin Bacon is in his fifties and thus far too old for the main role. Did the new one have Kenny Loggins? No, it had a countrified version of the theme by Blake Shelton, which is worse. I wouldn’t dare call Footloose perfect, whether we’re talking about the song or the film, but it is about as good as it’s going to get, and any effort to change things is either going to be worse or unnecessary. Just leave well enough alone and come up with a new idea.
I mean, take the song, it’s a pretty solid piece of dance music, and while it does have a bit of a rural tinge it’s also got Loggins himself, who made about a billion soundtrack hits by throwing himself completely into the song. I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say it’s an outright great song, but it’s one of those songs where it’s pretty much as good as it can get. It’s catchy, got a driving beat, and it suits the tone that the film is going for. It makes the movie sound fun, and Loggins is part of the reason, since he’s committed. There’s no ironic distance here. There is ironic distance in Shelton’s cover of the song, and it fails. It’s just a song that doesn’t work unless everyone involved is right there and pushing hard.
There’s nothing wrong with covers, and there isn’t even anything wrong with remakes, but sometimes there’s just no need for them. There are better songs than Footloose, there are worse, but Loggins made Footloose about as good as it could be, so any attempt at doing it again is going to be a lesser attempt.