Soundtrack Saturday: “Breakin'”

Written by Film, Soundtrack Saturday

I would like to begin this week’s post by asking you a few very important questions. First, how could anyone not love a movie that stars people who call themselves Shabba-Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp? Furthermore, how could anyone not love a movie about breakdancing that stars people who call themselves Shabba-Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp? And if one doesen’t like breakdancing movies starring Shabba-Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp, and that person grew up during the 1980s, does that mean he or she has no soul? Finally, and most seriously, if one doesn’t think Breakin’ (1984) is kind of amazing in an “it’s so bad it becomes good” sort of way, should he or she be reading this column at all?

Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones, and Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers star in this simultaneously wonderful and terrible film about — you guessed it — breakdancing. A fairly mainstream film that had a decent run at the box office during the summer of ’84, Breakin’ (a.k.a. Breakdance) is one of several films released in the ’80s that depicted different aspects of hip-hop culture. Its portrait of the breakdancing scene, encased in a loose interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, is more upbeat and less gritty than, say, Beat Street or Wild Style. (P.S. Those two films are coming soon to Soundtrack Saturday.) Perhaps the film’s Los Angeles setting has something to do with that (I have an easier time not giggling at a ganglike dance war in Venice Beach than New York City). But if you don’t take Breakin’ too seriously, you’ll have a life-altering experience. Okay, maybe not life altering. But you’ll definitely have a damn good time.

So, what happens in this piece of cinematic genius? Rather than give you a typical synopsis, I’m going to list things I love about this movie that I think you should, or would, love too.

1. Shabba-Doo
2. Boogaloo Shrimp
3. breakdance wars
4. Ice-T in his first film role
5. spotting Lela Rochon and Jean-Claude Van Damme as uncredited extras
6. the entire sequence in which Ozone (Shabba-Doo) and Turbo (Boogaloo Shrimp) teach Kelly (Dickey) how to breakdance
7. Breakdancers vs. Rednecks; Breakdancers vs. Rich People
8. the big-time dance competition
9. the soundtrack, obviously
10. IT HAS A SEQUEL CALLED BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO!

Come on, now, tell me you don’t want to watch this movie this very minute.

Okay, so how about that soundtrack? It’s possibly the best thing about the whole film. It features a great mix of hip-hop, rap, pop, and funk, and even managed to spawn a pretty big hit — “Breakin’ … There’s No Stopping Us,” by Ollie & Jerry, reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also features the first appearance by Ice-T on a full-length album. I’ve got the entire official soundtrack for you, plus a couple of tracks that didn’t make the final cut.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go plan my Breakin’-themed birthday party.

Ollie & Jerry – Breakin’ … There’s No Stopping Us
The Bar-Kays – Freakshow on the Dance Floor
Hot Streak – Body Work
Carol Lynn Townes – 99 1/2 (Extended Vocal Version)
Ollie & Jerry – Showdown
3 V – Heart of the Beat
Firefox – Street People
Re-Flex – Cut It
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
Ice-T and Chris “The Glove” Taylor – Reckless
The Rock Steady Crew – Hey You
Kraftwerk – Tour de France
Ice-T and Chris “The Glove” Taylor – Tibetan Jam (Instrumental)
Hot Streak – Body Work (Instrumental)
Ollie & Jerry – Breakin’ … There’s No Stopping Us (Instrumental)
Ice-T and Chris “The Glove” Taylor – Reckless (Extended Version)
The Art of Noise – Beat Box (Diversion One)
Al Jarreau – Boogie Down