The Village People Were Almost Marvel Heroes Because YMCA Is A Superpower

It's fun to stay at the… um, Avengers compound?

It’s an amazing but true story: The Village People were almost Marvel heroes.

Yes, those Village People. ‘YMCA’. ‘In The Navy’. ‘Macho Man’. Those ones.

Look, the Avengers could have been a very different movie, that’s all we’re saying.

On paper there are a lot of Marvel heroes that really shouldn’t work but have become beloved parts of the canon. A talking racoon? A Norse god with a magic hammer? A wizard with a sentient cape?

But six singing and dancing disco men? That seems like a challenge beyond even Kevin Fiege.

And according to Cracked it nearly entered the canon because of a film treatment in 1980 for that beloved Marvel household name: Dazzler.

Dazzler is an X-Men character created via that most noble and inspiring of artistic inspirations: corporate advertising tie-ins.

Marvel had come up with the idea of creating a new character in the X-Men comics and simultaneously holding a talent quest to find a female singer to “be” Dazzler, to record with Casablanca Records: home of artists like KISS, Donna Summer and the Village People.

Before long this idea turned into a TV special and then a possible feature film. Comic writer Jim Shooter was given four days to come up with an outline. And it’s amazing, and also an exciting insight into an era that was clearly a lot more liberal about chemicals in the workplace.

His concept involved Marvel heroes like Spider-man fighting criminals (including Cher and KISS) alongside Dazzler and the Stompers – the characters played by the VPS – which would include:

THE MOTORCYCLE COP – has a nightstick that’s charged with crackling energy
THE COWBOY – twirls an unbreakable lasso that he controls as if it was alive
THE CONSTRUCTION WORKER – has a jackhammer that can create small earthquakes
THE LEATHERMAN – is super-strong and wields an unbreakable chain

…and so on.

The problems started early as disco’s brief heyday was already over by mid-1980, and in any case the Village People had their own flop movie to attend to in the form of Can’t Stop The Music – a film starring the band alongside Steve Guttenberg and the future Caitlyn Jenner.

It’s a curious piece of cinema, basically, although there’s no denying that it would have been enlivened by including a magic living lasso.

Needless to say, this film never eventuated and the Village People never became the Marvel heroes they deserved to be. However, Dazzler did finally turn up in a Marvel film this year, having a bit of a sing in X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Sadly, the VPs didn’t join her. Shame. We bet they’d have YMCA-ed the hell out of that film.

Reminder: 'Torn' Is Not A Natalie Imbruglia Original, But It Is The Song That Made One Direction

It's a valuable lesson in how a cover version can absolutely eclipse the original artist's vision.

You can count the times when a cover version wildly eclipses the original on one hand – but ‘Torn’ is proof that it can be done and also that Natalie Imbruglia is basically a genius.

Yes, ‘Torn’ isn’t her song. But let’s be honest: it absolutely is her song, even if she was the third artist to release it.

Um, hi?

if you want to follow the forging of the Crown of Torns, it was first demoed by Anne Preven, who co wrote it with her guitarist Scott Cutler and her producer (and former bassist with the Cure) Phil Thornally.

Preven and Cutler then formed a band called Ednaswap in LA and released the song in 1995. And man, it sounds SO VERY 1995. Ah, those glory days of alt.rock…

But they didn’t even get to record it first: that honour went to Lis Sørensen, in 1993 who made it a minor hit in Denmark (as ‘Brændt’, which literally means “burned”).

Imbruglia’s version isn’t all that different to Sørensen’s and keeps the somewhat streamlined chord progression (compared with Ednaswap’s version, at least) and yet is about a billion times better.

It’s also produced by Thornally, which is how our Nat heard of the song. See how it works?

And let’s not underestimate that video.…

And then One Direction made it part of their legend by making it the first song they ever performed together – it was the song that convinced Simon Cowell to take them to the very tippity top. And just look at them emote!

So, in short: the people who wrote the song did the version that the fewest people heard or liked. But at least they still get publishing royalties. That’s gotta be a nice little earner.

And Preven and Cutler have made a hell of a career writing for other artists, including the award-winning ‘Listen’ from Dreamgirls.

So, songwriters: the trick is to work with a former goth superstar, get a Scando pop star to cover it, then have an Australian soapie star make it an international smash, and then have it trigger the formation of the biggest boy band of all time.


Grease Had A Song About Mooning Women And You Never Even Knew It

It's still better than Beauty School Dropout.

So you think you’re pretty across Grease, right? You can belt out ‘Summer Nights’ with the best of them, you know how to hand jive, and you even know the more obscure references in ‘Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee’. But did you know it has a song about showing people one’s bum?

To be fair, it’s not in the film. However, if your family had the Grease movie’s official soundtrack LP you might be aware that there’s a ballad on side three called ‘Mooning’.

You might assume was cut because it doesn’t seem to further the plot: a guy sings about mooning after a girl who remains immune to his charms.

But actually, it’s because there was a small change in the characters between stage and screen, and also it wasn’t nearly as innocent as it seemed.

In the film there’s a T-Bird named Putzie (the blonde one), but in the original musical his name was Rump because he liked to flash his bum at people all the time.

That Putz is in the middle.

And ‘Mooning’ was the character’s big number, based on the presumed-hilarious fact that mooning is both a term for wistfully yearning for someone, and for flashing arse at them.

Hence pun-tacular lines like “I guess I’ll keep striking poses / Until my cheeks have lost their roses” and

Sure, maybe having a character drop trou throughout the film would be a little ribald for a slumber party classic. However, given the utterly filthy lyrics to ‘Greased Lightning’, it’s entirely possible that Rump was actually considered too sophisticated and high-falutin’ for the film’s tone.

History, sadly, does not record.

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