When it comes to Ghostbusters‘ songs, Ray Parker, Jr.’s super-literal theme gets all the love, but the truth is it’s not even the best song from the franchise. No, I am not exaggerating, and no, I am not using hyperbole, because Bobby Brown’s ludicrous, absurd, insane (and inane) Ghostbusters 2 track, “On Our Own,” is my favorite song in movie history.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: I do not love this ironically. I think it’s a great song with a great sound, a classic late ’80s/early ’90s upbeat R&B dance number that even works perfectly as a track within the film itself (when the guys are finally released from the insane asylum to go fight Vigo).
But I have no idea what the hell the lyrics have to do with anything from the movie…except when they have to do with everything about the movie. (I promise that will make sense…sorta.)
Let’s break this down. Keep in mind, the general (asinine) premise of Ghostbusters 2 is that no one actually believes the guys–the ones who saved the world from a god that came from another dimension, the supreme being that created a skyscraper-sized marshmallow man into existence–about the danger posed by a river of slime under the city.
Now if you think the first movie’s theme song is wonderfully way too literal, Bobby Brown is about to blow it out of the slime with his opening verses, but this number is written like Bobby only knew a few general facts about the movie…and also as though he didn’t work very hard on the lyrics.
Too hot to handle, too cold to hold
They’re called the Ghostbusters and they’re in control
Had ’em throwin’ a party for a bunch of children
While all of the while the slime was under the building
So they packed up their group, got a grip, came equipped
Grabbed they Proton packs off their back and they split
Found about Vigo, the master of evil
Try to battle my boys? That’s not legal
This opening and culminating rap is somehow both the apex and nadir of human history. “Too hot to handle, too cold to hold” is the least absurd line here. The rest is Bobby summing up the movie like a student that had the book he didn’t read explained to him sixty seconds before the test.
And if you don’t believe the line between genius and insanity is a fine one, I present to you “Found out about Vigo, the master of evil/Try to battle my boys THAT’S NOT LEGAL.”
“That’s not legal.” As though the ancient, evil Carpathian painting come to life and robbing a baby so he can transfer his soul into it is a legal matter. This is the best lyric ever. There is no second. It’s also the second best lyric ever.
Okay, so he opens up with these absurd, over-the-top literal lines, and then…
Yeah, I think this is gonna be another one of those funky ones
Heart & soul, da da dance
…it immediately gets weird. Why is Bobby talking to us about the song itself? Why is this suddenly a meta-piece? You know what, no time to worry about Bobby Brown’s post-modern tendencies, not when the strangeness is going to jump up by a factor of infinity.
If I was you, and you were me, you’d wanna be winnin’
If you want somethin’ bad, yo, you gotta wanna give your all
‘Cause I believe so much in we and no we’re not kiddin’
If you feel the same as me, yo, you gotta want to take the ball
IS THIS ABOUT THE GHOSTBUSTERS OR GHOSTS OR ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH THE MOVIE? I’ve been listening to this song for nearly 25 years (my family owned this soundtrack on vinyl!) and I have no working theories on what this has to do with Ghostbusters 2. I don’t even know what it might have to do with at all. Sports? A relationship? Re-read them as many times as you want, it won’t help, yo.
Now I found out that nothin’ is given
Don’t know where the cards may fall
All I know is that we’ve gotta get it
We’ve gotta make it on our own
What does “it” refer to? Impossible to know. The only thing I am sure of is “it” is not talking about ghosts. This song is not about ghosts, or fighting ghosts, or people that have seen ghosts.
Well I guess we’re gonna have to take control
(All on our own)
If it’s up to us, we’ve got to take it home
(All on our own)
Hey! The chorus makes (a little) sense. Things are out of control, what with the talking painting, the baby stealing, and the river of slime, and the Ghostbusters have to take control back….and then take it back home? You know, I don’t know if the whole “rhyming” part of song writing was Bobby’s strong suit.
Now can’t you see that all we need to be a go getter
Gotta make your own decisions, you gotta go for what you know
It comes a time in our lives, you wanna be bigger
Gotta keep keep on pushing, you gotta learn to take control, yeah
…This is in a movie about people that fight ghosts. Can’t remind you enough of that fact.
He then repeats about having it “under control” and how they have to “take it home” a bunch. Home is very important here, for some reason–a controlled home–but we know that, since Bobby also keeps saying “you know it” a lot at the end. As though he’s trying to convince us our confusion is unfounded.
Bobby Brown, on his own (obviously), wrote a song to inspire people to take control of their lives, a song to urge them to rely on themselves to make their own dreams come true. Then, someone called and asked if he wanted to write a song for Ghostbusters 2. He agreed to do it, but then he forgot about it. So when it came time to turn it in he asked for the movie treatment from his assistant, wrote a quick verse that made it sound like he knew what happened in the film, tossed that verse on to the beginning and end of his pre-existing motivational song, and called it a day.
And in the process accidentally created the greatest song in movie history, a totally insane track that I’ll be thinking about on my death bed even if I live to be 2000 years old.
Don’t agree with me? Well you know what? That’s not legal! ….Or something.
I literally have no idea, but I love it anyway.
What are your memories of this song? Share them with us in the comments below.
Featured Image: MCA Records
Ghostbusters 2 Images: Columbia Pictures