Q: The theme song for "Hotel Hell" seems to ring a bell. Was it written just for the series?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

"Hotel Hell," the umpteenth reality show based around celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay fixing other people's problems, gets a lot of guff for its "weird" and "cheesy" theme song. One TV writer pointed out that "it seems like every word that ends with an -el or -ell sound was used in the lyrics of this song," and another simply called it the "worst theme song ever." 

It would be pretty awkward if this all gets back to Australian glam-rock band Skyhooks, because they're the ones who released it back in 1978, as a serious song.

Skyhooks were a major pop phenomenon in Australia. The song is (not surprisingly) also titled "Hotel Hell" and was released on the band's fifth album, "Guilty Until Proven Insane." Australian music journalist and historian Ian McFarlane called it their "classic" album and listed "Hotel Hell" as one of its best tracks, thanks to its exploration of "themes of alienation" and its "blistering hard rock firepower."

All that is to say that context is everything: Skyhooks' "Hotel Hell" works as a glam-rock song, but it doesn't necessarily work as a TV theme.

However, the issue of context makes it a strangely good choice for the show at the same time. The show's central conflict comes from the context clash of a Scottish celebrity coming to intensely local American businesses and telling them how to do things. The owners often push back, despite the fact that hotels are in fact supposed to be appealing to outsiders. Amid all this outsider-insider, American-European conflict, throwing in an Australian pop song suddenly doesn't seem so weird.


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