Album Review: “Dirty Dancing” Soundtrack

The film Dirty Dancing was released in 1987, and so was the soundtrack to accompany the film.  Dirty Dancing, which starred Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze, went on to become a classic film.  The soundtrack also became a classic, thanks to the hits “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” “She’s Like the Wind,” and “Hungry Eyes.”  I was in seventh grade when the songs from the soundtrack were current, and I remember liking the songs, even though I hadn’t seen the film.  I ended up seeing the film about a year or so later.  The next school year, my PE class was having a jump rope unit, and the teacher was using this soundtrack as background music for us to jump the rope to.  After becoming intimately familiar with the soundtrack through this exposure, I ended up buying my own copy of this CD.

The album opens with “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.  Not only was this song the lead-off single for the album, but it also became a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.  I really like this song, and it’s one of my favorites on the soundtrack.  However, how it’s used in the film is a little dubious.  The film is set in the 1960s, yet this song, which wasn’t recorded until 1987, is used for the characters to dance to in the finale.  I guess it’s that’s just a case of having to use your “willing suspension of disbelief” when watching that scene.

The next song on the soundtrack is The Ronettes’ classic, “Be My Baby.”  This song was my first real exposure to Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound.”  I really liked this song when I heard it on the soundtrack, because it sounded so different compared to the music I was listening to at the time.  Next on the soundtrack is the ballad “She’s Like the Wind,” which was written and performed by Patrick Swayze, one of the stars of the film; the song also featured a woman named Wendy Fraser.  Patrick was known more as an actor than as a singer, so this song came as a bit of a surprise, especially when it was released as a single.  However, it’s a great song, and Patrick had a great voice.  It’s actually a shame that he never really recorded anything else and tried to pursue a music career.

The next song is “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen, which was also released as a single from the soundtrack.  It sounds rather different from the material Eric Carmen recorded in the 1970s, but “Hungry Eyes” is a fantastic song, and has become about as much of a classic as his other material.  Next is “Stay” by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, one of the songs from the 1950s and 1960s that was included on the soundtrack.

“Yes” by Merry Clayton is another new song on the soundtrack.  I remember this one being a great one to jump rope to during that eighth grade PE unit.  However, over the years, it’s become one of the songs I don’t listen to as much on the soundtrack.  This is followed by “You Don’t Own Me” by The Blow Monkeys.  It’s one of the slower songs on the soundtrack, and it’s one I tend to skip over when I listen to the album.

Next is “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel, another song from the 1960s to make an appearance.  It’s used in a classic scene in the movie, and it’s a song I really like on the soundtrack.  This is followed by “Overload” by Zappacosta, another one of the new songs.  This is a song I really liked from hearing it during eighth grade PE, and I’ve always thought it should have been considered as a fourth single from the album.  I think it could have had some decent success on the charts, especially with the Dirty Dancing connection.

Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange,” originally from the late 1950s, became a classic song from the film.  It was used in another classic scene in the film, and it’s one of those songs that gets stuck in your head after you hear it.  While the movie was popular, I remember some of the girls in the PE locker room would be singing this as we’d be getting ready for class.

Tom Johnston’s “Where Are You Tonight” is the last of the new songs to appear on the soundtrack.  Sonically, it sounds like it’s trying to emulate the 1960s sound; unfortunately, it sounds like it’s trying a little too hard.  It’s a song I’ve never really listened to much on the soundtrack.  The soundtrack concludes with The Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night,” another song that came out in the 1950s.  This song makes a great album closer.

Overall, the Dirty Dancing soundtrack is a rather strong album.  While there are some songs that I don’t personally listen to, the soundtrack does succeed at taking songs from various artists and decades and arranges them in a way that has a natural flow.  When I listen to the album, I don’t feel like there’s any real jarring transitions between any of the songs.  Personally, I think the Dirty Dancing soundtrack is one of the best soundtrack albums to be released in the 1980s.

I wrote this review after listening to a copy of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack that I purchased.

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