One Track Mind: Northern Kings, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” (2007)

There’s only so much cheesy awesomeness that you can pack into a single video and song, and Northern Kings get every bit of it crammed into this cover of Tina Turner’s theme for the third Mad Max movie.

For those not familiar with Northern Kings — which I’m guessing will be most readers of this site — it’s a side project featuring four of the top singers in symphonic Finnish power metal. It includes Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot), Jarkko Ahola (Terasbetoni, Dreamtale) and Juha-Pekka Leppaluoto (Charon). Up to this point, the project has been largely for fun, with the band releasing two albums of symphonic metal covers of mostly 1980s pop tunes.

Sometimes it works, as with this song and their take on Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose.” Sometimes, it’s not so great — see their lethargic and overly long version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” And while I like them, I’m sure millions would be horrified at their galloping power metal take on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” or the crunchy, dramatic version of Sinatra’s “My Way.” But you have to understand that they’re not taking themselves too seriously, so neither should we.

I have a great love of B science-fiction movies, especially those that attempt to be epic, so I have a soft spot for 1985’s “Beyond Thunderdome,” despite its teen-friendlier take on the Mad Max franchise. Over the last few months, I’ve thought many times that it might have offered a better way to choose a president — “two men enter, one man leave” — but that’s beside the point.

Tina Turner’s overly melodramatic theme song, with lyrics based on the movie and not making a whole lot of sense in any other context, was perfect for the film. It’s also perfect for this over-the-top treatment that’s even more melodramatic featuring symphonic flourishes and wailing operatic vocals. The companion video furthers the exaggerated dramatics with soaring shots of a coliseum on a mountaintop with the four singers inside, dressed in Victorian-style tuxes and tophats and playing ringmasters to a crowd of masked patrons in the balcony. The vocalists lay it on heavier as the song goes on, and if anything, it seems even more appropriate for the source film.

Much like Turner’s original song and video, it’s all a bit silly and contains more cheese than a Swiss Colony catalog. It’s also absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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