Fans of Will Ferrell’s oddball comedy Anchorman seem to have one question regarding its soundtrack. The answer is yes, of course “Afternoon Delight” is on it. As its closer, the song — which is sung by Farrell and his fellow newscasters but isn’t the same a capella version in the movie — is the driving force behind this soundtrack, as both share a common ridiculous thread. Just as Ferrell’s character, Ron Burgundy, and his pals live in some bizarre world where dogs can bark in Spanish and newscasters can spontaneously break into song with barbershop accuracy, a single song about having sex in the afternoon can rise to great popularity and live on three decades after it was penned.
The other question people have is whether or not the soundtrack is worth buying. Surprisingly, the songs do manage to transcend mere connections to the movie and brief flashbacks of laughter. Even without recalling where it appeared in the film, the Isley Brothers’s “That Lady” is one of the funkiest tunes you may ever hear at an Old Navy store or on your local souldies station, and Kansas’s “Carry On Wayward Son” is unquestionably one of the most over-the-top, rockinest songs ever recorded. Of course, the latter helped the movie end on a high note (standing as the best use of a Kansas song in a Will Ferrell movie since he sang “Dust In The Wind” in Old School), and “Afternoon Delight” will be forever inseparable from Anchorman for the movie’s fans.
But even though the thirteen groovy songs could do fine as a seventies dance-party compilation, Ferrell accompanies each with a spoken introduction so they have some tie to the movie or to Ron Burgundy. Some are hilarious bits — like Burgundy’s praise of the band Survivor before playing “That Lady” or his lament over “catching fire while barbecuing drunk” before a Hall & Oates tune. His tale of how he once killed a man in a bar fight before Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry” curiously recalls Ferrell’s Neil Diamond impression on Saturday Night Live, where he once introduced a song as being written after a hit-and-run.
Despite the welcome silly humor, the album’s producers could have been kind enough to include the comedy segments as different tracks instead of indelibly attaching them to the songs. To have your funky dance party interrupted every three minutes by Ron Burgundy isn’t always the grooviest situation.
Still, the song selection is impeccable, and judging by the main demographic of the movie, this soundtrack could introduce younger generations to some music they can make fun of their parents for listening to. Most of the songs are soulful, well-produced and funky, but some are so extravagant that they can’t help but induce laughter. By the time Tom Jones’s “Help Yourself” comes around, his ridiculous lyrics have already been topped by songs like “Grazing in the Grass” by Friends of Distinction and “Groovy Situation” by Gene Chandler. The selection is remarkably similar to Starsky & Hutch‘s soundtrack from earlier this year. “Afternoon Delight” and Bill Withers’s “Use Me” appear on both albums, which highlight the generally goofy nature of late sixties and seventies pop and funk. Overall, the Anchorman soundtrack is a collection of fun music tied to a hilarious movie about a man and his passion for reading from a teleprompter. You stay classy, Prefix readers.