Keanu Reeves’ Musical Legacy Is Most Excellent
On September 2 in the year of our lord 1964, the heavens gave us a true talent in the form of a young man named Keanu Reeves, eventual star of The Day the Earth Stood Still (remake), A Walk in the Clouds and Much Ado About Nothing (1993, not 1967, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1987, 1993, 1995, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, etc.). But unlike most of Hollywood, Keanu was born as a hyphenate, flexing his skills as a musician along the way. His work as a member of Dogstar proved Keanu’s unparalleled prowess early on, and as such, we’re here to celebrate his most important musical moments.
Let’s say you took the Verve Pipe, Dishwalla, Edwin McCain, Deep Blue Something, Fuel, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Hootie and the Blowfish and every single ’90s alt band, good or not, and put them in a blender — the resulting vomit paste of mediocrity would sound something like Dogstar, who worship Big Star one minute and come off like they just discovered Suede another. This band is by no means an embarrassment to Keanu (just the bassist), but there isn’t a single interesting thing here at all.
Everything about this movie is 100 percent all over the place, and indicative of the post-Tarantino “wacky caper” rush of the late '90s. From the music of Los Lobos and the production by Danny DeVito to the soundtrack by Wilco, the Replacements, Spearhead and Helmet (!), this film, by writer / director Steven Baigelman, is a hot mess (his only directorial effort to date). If there is one redeeming quality, it’s the title, which is directly lifted from that goddamn Soundgarden classic “Outshined.”
THE MATRIX SOUNDTRACK
Nü-metal and the horribly termed “alt-metal” might have been in full swing by the time The Matrix came out, but nothing put the punctuation on it all quite like its soundtrack. At no other point in music history has there been anything as sick as Keanu fully embracing his power as The One, looking deep into the coded world he dwells and ascending to the sky, all while Rage Against the Machine blasts defiantly. Plus, the rest of the soundtrack is rounded out by other greats of the time: Rob Zombie, Deftones, Ministry, Marilyn Manson, Massive Attack — everyone you could want.
THE RETIRED HIPSTER DJ IN KNOCK KNOCK
If you haven’t managed to see Eli Roth’s Knock Knock, feel free to never do that. The biggest feat the director manages to accomplish is making 90 minutes feel like 180, as if you, too, are strapped to a chair against your will and tortured, as Keanu is for a good deal of the runtime. But if you must know, Reeves is an architect working at home while his wife and kids are out with ... grandma, maybe? Visiting a new school? Who knows. Before he was an architect, though, Keanu was a cool-ass hipster DJ, like if James Murphy completely failed and had to get a square job. This gets turned around on him, as later in the movie, the two evil succubi who have captured him tie him down and play some really loud feedback in his ears, because, uh, Chekhov’s gun?
RAPPING "BIG POPPA" IN HARDBALL
Let’s be real — Keanu will always be cool AF. Did you see him in John Wick? All slick black suits and smoldering sexuality. So, why oh why does he look so goddamn corny rapping along to the Biggie classic “Big Poppa”? It’s like the first time your dad learned about rap and decided, “Hey, I’m going to embarrass my children,” and started throwing hand signs. Keanu, stick to the leather trenches.
WYLD STALLYNS IN BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
No matter how many tearjerkers he takes on in his lifetime, or how many times he wears sunglasses and unloads an automatic weapon on a foe — even if he was to save a flaming bus filled with disabled children — Keanu will always be known as MENSA poster child Ted “Theodore” Logan, co-founder of Wyld Stallyns.
HENRY ROLLINS IN JOHNNY MNEMONIC
Henry Rollins’ ’90s filmography is a real grab bag of who knows what you’re going to get. Most of the time it’s scientist, police officer, scientist, police officer. But when he stepped into the shoes of Johnny Mnemonic’s Spider, Rollins embarked upon his easiest hardest role yet: a street doctor to whom Keanu Reeves is supposed to deliver the data installed on his head, then promptly dies after about 15 minutes on screen. It’s not a big stretch for Rollins, who just yells about there being way too much information out there while wearing some cute glasses and showing off his unobscured Misfits tattoo.
"I WILL SURVIVE" + "EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE," THE REPLACEMENTS
If you think unionized professional football players with non-guaranteed contracts who run the constant risk of life-altering concussions are the real villains, this movie's for you. Keanu plays shameless picket-crossing scab Shane Falco, ex-Buckeyes QB, who was decimated so thoroughly in the Sugar Bowl many a moon ago that he resigned himself to a life of quiet failure in a houseboat on the Potomac. The Replacements is all about our main man regaining his confidence and leading the laughably named Washington Sentinels (Strikebreakers) to the playoffs, i.e., evolving from "unengaged" block of wood to "sporadically engaged" block of wood. Hence, the above post-bar brawl jailhouse "bonding" sequence (truly a nightmare to behold on all levels, not least due to the involvement of Orlando "7-Up" Jones), and a (slightly) more inspired romantic interlude, in which the Police, John Madden and Pat Summerall combine forces to soundtrack Keanu's wooing of the Sentinels' obviously psyched head cheerleader.
ANTHONY KIEDIS, POINT BREAK
1991 was Peak Kiedis. Blood Sugar Sex Magik propelled the four-albums-deep Chili Peppers into the stratosphere, and their beefcake frontman made his first of two unforgettable feature film cameos (he and Flea kill it as monster truck-driving would-be fame whores in 1994's brutally dogshit The Chase). Above, Anthony and three other surf Nazis who "only live to get radical" temporarily kick the shit out of Keanu before Patrick "Bodhi" Swayze intervenes to save the day. Even better, this brawl prefaces one of the most kinetic celluloid FBI raid scenes of all time, during which Anthony (scampering around in Union Jack boxers!) inadvertently / hilariously gets half his foot blown off. Curious about the Anthony-and-Keanu-free 2015 reboot? That would be ... a waste of time.
SINGS "TIME AFTER TIME" IN SWEET NOVEMBER
With a long tenure in the likes of Wyld Stallynz, Dogstar, etc., it’s strange that Keanu hasn’t been cast in a musical, as his penchant for singing is extremely clear. One movie that took advantage of his abilities was Sweet November, a romantic drama co-starring Charlize Theron, which wasn’t exactly their best work. Nonetheless, there’s a very sweet scene where Keanu gets up onstage and sings a pretty sweet rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “Time After Time” (we wish it was Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”).
PAULA ABDUL, "RUSH RUSH"
For all of you with lives and friends and actual real world concerns, the 1968 Japanese film Destroy All Monsters was basically about the battle between Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gorosaurus, Anguirus, Kumonga, Fire Dragon and other Kaiju for our Earth. As you can imagine, with this many monsters battling, it pretty much lays waste to much of civilization and the progress man has made in 2,000+ years of technology. This is pretty much the "Rush Rush" video: Keanu meeting up with one of pop music's most irritating stars to cover a truly classic film, ruining it for fans everywhere.