Song of the Day #4,471: ‘The Time of Your Life’ – Randy Newman

Continuing my countdown of every Pixar movie…

#18. A Bug’s Life (1998)
(up two spots from previous ranking)

When you talk about Pixar’s amazing early run, it’s easy to forget that their second film was actually pretty ordinary. A Bug’s Life certainly didn’t live up to Toy Story and was a let-down three years after that groundbreaking release.

It’s a sweet movie that feels like Pixar Lite. It’s not as laugh out loud funny or hold-your-breath exciting as its brethren, and it doesn’t have the thematic weight of the studio’s best films, but it does each of those things a little bit.

I like the animation in this one, especially how the filmmakers turn a clump of land in a small pond into a whole civilization.

#17. Monsters University (2013)
(up one spot from previous ranking)

The third straight so-so Pixar film (it followed Cars 2 and Brave), and the second unnecessary sequel, Monsters University suffers because it feels like confirmation of a downward trend for the studio.

It’s an enjoyable tale that gets some mileage out of its college setting but it doesn’t add a whole lot to the Monsters world.

That said, this is one of the most imaginative universes in the Pixar canon, and it’s fun to spend more time with Billy Crystal and John Goodman in roles they inhabit beautifully.

[Verse 1]
Was a bug, little bug, hardly there
How he felt, what he dreamed, who would care?
Without any evidence
(His flaws were many)
He was full of confidence
(Some people haven’t any)
Didn’t have much common sense
(It’s highly over-rated)
He just knew that he’d come through

[Chorus]
It’s the time of your life, so live it well
It’s the time of your life, so live it well
We may only go ’round one time
As far as I can tell
It’s the time of your life
It’s the time of your life
It’s the time of your life, so live it well

[Verse 2]
Like us all, he started small
Then he grew
When the time came he knew what to do
He knew in order to succeed
(They’d have to work together)
He turned a rock into a seed
(And they were changed forever)
Then they had the strength they’d need
(To get through stormy weather)
Do or die, you gotta try

[Chorus]
It’s the time of your life, so live it well
It’s the time of your life, so live it well
We may only go ’round one time
As far as I can tell (He could be wrong about that)
It’s the time of your life, so live it well

[Bridge]
Isn’t it a bit surprising
How our fortunes ebb and flow
And only to the enterprising
Does the magic fortune cookie go
Believe me

[Chorus]
It’s the time of your life, so live it well
It’s the time of your life, so live it well
We may only go ’round one time
As far as I can tell
It’s the time of your life
It’s the time of your life
It’s the time of your life, so live it well

Song of the Day #4,470: ‘Touch the Sky’ – Julie Fowlis

Continuing my countdown of every Pixar movie…

#20. Brave (2012)
(down one spot from previous ranking)

As a follow-up to the disappointing Cars 2, Brave wasn’t exactly a sign that Pixar had righted the ship.

It took 13 films for the studio to finally feature a female protagonist, but the result feels more in line with Disney’s traditional princess lineup than Pixar’s work.

A thin plot and an overreliance on slapstick humor take away from an otherwise touching story about a mother-daughter relationship.

#19. WALL-E (2008)
(down two spots from previous ranking)

Here’s a case where my opinion differs widely from the critical consensus, though I suspect it might be more in line with that of “regular” fans.

WALL-E has a brilliant opening act, no doubt. The dialogue-free sequence of a lonely robot organizing a post-apocalyptic Earth into skyscrapers of trash, while finding beauty in discarded human artifacts both meaningful and mundane, is some of Pixar’s best work.

But once WALL-E leaves Earth for the floating spaceship, where blobby humans waste away plugged into TV screens, the movie loses me. The messaging is too obvious, the plot devolves into a series of manic chase scenes, and the human characters barely register.

This would have been better as a short film.

When the cold wind is a’calling
And the sky is clear and bright
Misty mountains sing and beckon
Lead me out into the light

I will ride, I will fly
Chase the wind and touch the sky I will fly
Chase the wind and touch the sky

(Na na na na
Na na na na
La na na na
Na na na)

(La na na na
La na na na
La na na na
Na na na)

Where dark roots hide secrets
And mountains are fierce and bold
Deep waters hold reflections
Of times lost long ago

I will hear their every story
Take hold of my own dream
Be as strong as the seas are stormy
And proud as an eagle’s scream

I will ride, I will fly
Chase the wind and touch the sky I will fly
Chase the wind and touch the sky

(Na na na na
Na na na na
La na na na
Na na na)

And touch the sky
Chase the wind
Chase the wind
Touch the sky

Song of the Day #4,469: ‘Collision of Worlds’ – Brad Paisley & Robbie Williams

My first quarantine movie challenge was to watch all of the films on the American Film Institute’s list of 25 essential musicals. I ranked those movies in a series of posts a month or so back.

For my next COVID-era cinematic trick, I have rewatched (or watched for the first time in a few cases) every Pixar movie in chronological order, ranking them as I went. I already had a Pixar ranking, so part of the fun of this exercise was seeing how these films moved up and down the list.

The movies don’t change, but we do, and sometimes we experience something differently years later based on any number of factors. As I offer up my list over the next three weeks, I will note how much each title shifted from my previous ranking.

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Song of the Day #4,468: ‘The Morning Fog’ – Kate Bush

When this song popped up as today’s Random Weekend selection, I realized that as much as I love Side One of Kate Bush’s 1985 album Hounds of Love, I’ve never paid much attention to Side Two.

In fact, until I read about today’s SOTD, the album’s final track, I didn’t know that Hounds of Love was conceived as two individual suites: Side One, ‘Hounds of Love,’ contains five songs, while Side Two, ‘The Ninth Wave,’ contains seven. The album’s four hits (‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God),’ ‘Cloudbusting,’ ‘Hounds of Love’ and ‘The Big Sky’) all appear on Side One, along with a favorite of mine, ‘Mother Stands For Comfort.’ I guess that explains why I know that half of the album so well.

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Song of the Day #4,467: ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown (Witmark Demos)’ – Bob Dylan

Between 1962 and 1964, Bob Dylan recorded a few dozen tracks for the publisher M. Witmark & Sons, with a plan to shop those songs to other artists.

Those songs, along with eight tracks he recorded for Leeds Music, were released in 2010 as the ninth volume of Dylan’s Bootleg Series. The collection features some of the earliest versions of beloved classics along with lesser-known and previously unheard tracks.

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