Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Head-Scratching Music ‘Career’
Early in 1985’s delightful family comedy Commando, the following (in retrospect predictable) un-woke exchange occurs between John Matrix and his adolescent daughter Jenny at the breakfast table:
John Matrix: [reading about Boy George in a pop magazine] Why don't they just call him Girl George? It would cut down on the confusion.
Jenny Matrix: Oh, dad, that is so old.
John Matrix: Ha ha. You know, when I was a boy and rock 'n' roll came to East Germany, the communists said it was subversive.
[thinks and smiles]
John Matrix: Maybe they were right.
Not even Noam Chomsky could make heads or tails of what the fuck retired killing machine Matrix is trying to imply here, but we open with this because it’s one of the few times the sainted Arnold Schwarzenegger (in and out of character) has NOT been a friend to rock ‘n’ roll. The ex-Governator has recently hit social media over and over to express calm, levelheaded and sensible arguments against Herr Trump leading us into, well, many disasters, much less the real-life equivalent of a hard-R, pre-apocalyptic shitshow. Hence, we thought we’d celebrate the
serial groper, but let’s not get into that now real hero / human being with a compendium of his contributions to rock via film, video, LP and much more.
"YAKETY YAK" (TWINS)
Many people only consider Arnold to be an actor, bodybuilder, governor and Terminator. What gets overlooked the most is his love of singing. Rarely do we get to experience that in his ultra-serious, killing machine roles. But luckily, in a small-time 1988 indie flick that barely anyone knows about — which co-stars Danny DeVito and netted our hero almost no money — Arnold got to sing "Yakety Yak" both on an airplane and in the shower. Both extremely beautiful moments showcasing his dulcet tones, which, confusingly, not many directors took advantage of.
PATTY SMYTH, "LOOK WHAT LOVE HAS DONE" (JUNIOR)
As you may or may not recall, 1994's Junior is about Arnold having a baby. Get it? A MAN IS HAVING A BABY! That doesn’t really happen in, like, real life and stuff! So, you can’t help but bust out laughing when Arnold says, straight-faced, “My body, my choice,” to kick off this clip from the film, a montage of the Governator doing all manner of baby-preparation. Not sure what is funnier: Arnold in a wig or the fact that this song was nominated for Grammy AND an Oscar (actual truth).
GUNS N' ROSES, "YOU COULD BE MINE" (TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY)
In 1991, there could be no greater combination than the union of the Terminator and Guns N' Roses. Hot off of their classic LP Appetite for Destruction, the band’s first single from their much-anticipated Use Your Illusion LPs just so happened to be part of the Terminator 2: Judgment Day soundtrack. Heavy metal nerds rejoiced, sci-fi nerds rejoiced (most likely the same focus group), and the video / single FLEW up the charts. The first of two videos where Arnold appears in the crowd before becoming part of the action (see “Big Gun”). The final scene is legendary.
GIRLSCHOOL, "DON'T CALL IT LOVE"
Girlschool turn rocker cliches on their head — in lieu of employing scantily-clad bikini girls, they fill their 1982 video with shots of beefcakes in bikini briefs. Of course, the Austrian god is one of the many flexing (his muscles or inherent sexual magnetism, take your pick), providing a killer backdrop to the actual banger of a track from the U.K. heavy metal goddesses. Come for the bulges, stay for the riffs.
AC/DC, "BIG GUN" (LAST ACTION HERO)
When you think about it, if AC/DC’s music were somehow alchemized into a living, breathing human, it would definitely look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, there’s very little doubt that when Arnold made Last Action Hero, he’d turn to the four-piece for a quality video. The obnoxiously oversized wall of amplifiers behind the band is the real equivalent in showmanship to the huge, explosive set pieces Arnold is known for. Plus, apparently when Angus Young throws his hat at people, they immediately change into his outfit and can suddenly play guitar. Who knew, right?
BON JOVI, "SAY IT ISN'T SO"
Bon Jovi definitely have a lot of ... songs. In 2000, they were riding the crest of HARD ROCK and put out their record Crush. As a real treat for JoviHeads, they dropped a video for “Say It Isn't So” featuring a variety of different actors, including Claudia Schiffer, Matt LeBlanc and Emilio Estevez. But far more important than those losers was a quick cameo by Arnold himself, riding up on a motorcycle, taking his sunglasses off, taking in the chaos around him and riding off in a totally-not-greenscreened scene. This might not seem extremely significant, but remember: Arnold definitely made more money in that five-second cameo than you will in your entire life.
LUKE MILLION, "ARNOLD"
Taken from scenes from Pumping Iron and more, this 2011 vaporwave track from synth artist Luke Million is kitschy, cheeky and fun as hell, with the video being almost as perfect. This is a masterpiece. This is art. This is not a tumor.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER'S TOTAL BODY WORKOUT
This is it. Proof that, although Arnold is a true international film superstar, he had the chops to be the world’s greatest pop star, too. Here he is in 1983 “reworking” some of the classics of the '80s, adding an exercise spin to some major hits of 1981, including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309.” Trust us when we say that there is no musical glory greater than Arnold when he commands, “Down! Up! Down! Up!” over that sick, sick Blue Öyster Cult chorus.
BONUS TRACK: AUSTRIAN DEATH MACHINE, "GET TO THE CHOPPA"
Aside from his main band As I Lay Dying, Tim “The Hitman” Lambesis is also known for his side project, Austrian Death Machine. Using a variety of different metalcore musicians to parody Arnold’s voice, Tim made a bunch of albums all themed around different Schwarzenegger roles and quotes. It’s totally dumb caveman thrash metal (that still ends up sounding better than AILD), but it’s totally fitting for the project’s concept. That said, if you want a band that’s actually good and doesn’t have a complete scumbag as a singer, you can check out “cinemagrind” kings Graf Orlock's “A Misappropriation of Sector Resources.”