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'Anchorman 2' vs. 'American Hustle': A Battle of the bands

'Anchorman 2' vs. 'American Hustle': A battle of the bands From Steven Rea's "On Movies Online"

'Anchorman 2' vs. 'American Hustle': A battle of the bands

From Steven Rea's "On Movies Online"

Nothing establishes a time and place and mood like the right song, and when you're trying to re-create those halcyon, polyester days of yore - like the cusp of 1980, when disco was king - the music is everything. In David O. Russell's American Hustle, the rollicking free-for-all starring Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, the sound track is full of '70s hits that say something about the respective characters and their mindsets, like Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," and Paul McCartney & Wings' 007 theme song, "Live and Let Die," which J-Law belts out in one particularly impassioned scene.

In Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Ron Burgundy and crew relocate to New York to go to work for the first 24-hour news channel. It's 1980, and the songs in the Will Ferrell farce include Kenny Loggins' "This Is It," John Waite's "Change," and Hot Chocolate's "Every 1's a Winner."

American Hustle's Russell and Anchorman 2's director and cowriter, Adam McKay, are good friends and knew they'd be vying for the same or similar tunes. But they also knew that a lot of the great songs were already gone.

"The music from that era is really hard to find, because Paul Thomas Anderson used it all in Boogie Nights," McKay, a Malvern native, said on a recent trip back home. "So, I was like, 'David, would you trade music with me?' I was having a hard time. He's lucky, though. David's film is more drama, so he gets to go with the harder-edged stuff, whereas ours still has to be more poppy.

"It took us forever - we literally had 300, 400 songs in a file, and the criteria was, if this song came on the radio, would you be excited to hear it? . . . Or, the song has to be a joke, like 'Xanadu,' or 'Muskrat Love.' It was hard, man."

But there were rewards, too. McKay got to use Christopher Cross' 1980 hit "Ride Like the Wind."

"That was the real discovery," McKay says. "That's an awesome song - I didn't know that!"