Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Carl Douglas Kung Fu Fighting Jack Black

Jack Black and Cee-Lo cover Carl Douglas' Kung Fu Fighting for the Kung Fu Panda movie -- although "cover" seems like the wrong word since they also rewrite most of the lyrics.

Carl Douglas sings

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightening
But they fought with expert timing

Jack Black sings

Everybody is Kung fu fighting,
Your mind becomes fast as lightning
Although the future is a little bit frightening
If look at your life then you’re arriving,

Carl Douglas sings

They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down
It's an ancient Chinese art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and kicking from the hip

Jack Black sings

You’re a diamond in the rough, You’re a brilliant ball of clay,
You can be a work of art, If you just go all the way,
Now what would it take to break? I believe that you can bend,
Not only have you got to fight, But you have got to win,

Carl Douglas sings

There was funky Billy Chin and little Sammy Chung
He said here comes the big boss, lets get it on
We took a bow and made a stand, started swinging with the hand
The sudden motion made me skip now we're into a brand knew trip

Jack Black:

You are a natural, Why is it so hard to see?
Maybe it’s just because, the people are looking at me
The journey’s a lonely one, So much more than we know
But, sometimes you’ve got to go, You’ve got to be your own hero.

Carl Douglas seems like he has just come out of a Kung-Fu movie, and is telling you all about it. Jack Black is singing, practically in character, a song about believing in yourself, which is weak. A big part of what makes the original so great is the patent absurdity of THIS being the SUBJECT of a song -- not a metaphor, no message, just a guy telling you about all these other guys fighting. There are LOTS of songs about being your own hero and so on. On the other hand I bet "funky Chinamen in funky Chinatown," although it has a certain zest to it, is probably not so PC.


Marc Caputo said...

For me, the epitome of this type of song is "Turtle Power" by Partners in Kryme, from the first TMNT movie in 1990.

James said...

Remember how the video showed the Turtles receiving medals from the mayor, end-of-Star-Wars style? And then that wasn't in the movie? Good times.

jen said...

Wow. I've just spent way too long trying to figure out how the Jack Black lyrics fit into the song's cadence and rhythm. (And I did this knowing full well I could probably YouTube it.)

Anyway... I hold that Ash's Kung Fu is better than the classic Carl Douglas Kung Fu Fighting. Instead of telling you about the Kung Fu movie, it's the expression of the fan who has taken it all too far and become wholly obsessive about it. The jumbling together of so many references is a brilliant reflection of the fan who loves a genre so much (s)he forgets the reality of everything about it.

Anonymous said...

You know, I was vaguely aware they'd changed the words -- no funky Chinamen, check -- but didn't listen to the lyrics otherwise. Which was probably exactly what they wanted: getting credit for a sly pop culture reference with the song without actually playing it. Well played, Dreamworks.

Doug M.