My sister once declared that Say Anything..., which turns 25 today, was a definitive chick flick that guys will watch (she phrased it more eruditely than that, but you get the idea). She's right--maybe it's Cameron Crowe's screenplay, or the way it captures the aches of the male crush, or its creation of a world where a guy who spends his Saturday nights at a Gas 'n' Sip could date a girl that looked like Ione Skye. There's something about Say Anything... that gets through to the lunkheaded heterosexual male, more than perhaps any other film in Netflix's Rom Com section.
As with every Crowe film, us music nerds get the bonus of a killer soundtrack, doused with everything from Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle" to Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden two years before the grunge boom (which Crowe went on to capture in his next movie, Singles). Of course Say Anything... is best known for the Peter Gabriel song in its most famous scene, and Lili Taylor's odes to her callous ex are probably a distant second, but its soundtrack has a trove of less-famous gems worth celebrating today.
1. Living Colour, "Cult of Personality"
It's a classic today, though there was no way of knowing that in 1989, when Living Colour were a relatively new band under producer Mick Jagger's wing. They're still a ferocious live band, and Vernon Reid is universally acknowledged as one of the world's greatest guitar players, but this is deservedly their most enduring song.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Taste the Pain"
Another band on the cusp of megastardom when Crowe picked them for Lloyd Dobler's tape deck, the Chili Peppers were streamlining the disjointed funk rock of their earliest albums on "Taste the Pain," showing hints of the songmanship that was about to peak on Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
3. Depeche Mode, "Stripped"
Like Crowe himself, Depeche Mode were experts at taking the artsy underdog to the mainstream, being lonely enough for Cusack types and sexy enough for the rest of the world. Arguably the male musical equivalent of "a brain trapped in the body of a game-show hostess."
4. Fishbone, "Skankin' to the Beat"
Now that ska has been raided and exhausted beyond repair, "Skankin' to the Beat" should be as dated as Fishbone's cameo in Back to the Beach. Thankfully, its got enough of a new wave touch to earn its spot in the graduation party scene, and justify the Fishbone logo on Lloyd Dobler's shirt.
5. The Replacements, "Within in Your Reach"
Crowe dug this one out from the second half of the Replacements' messiest album, where it hid next to a drunken cover of "The Twist." Performed entirely by Paul Westerberg, "Within Your Reach" is the only song in Say Anything... that sounds like something Lloyd Dobler would actually write, though I'm glad Crowe made him a kickboxing instructor instead.