I realize Howard the Duck’s cinematic reputation precedes it, but I would like to put that aside for one moment. Imagine, if you will, that Howard the Duck switched its A-plot and B-plot, centering not the sarcastic duck alien, but the trials and tribulations of Cherry Bomb, the all-girl rock band featured in the film.
Because honestly? Cherry Bomb is the bomb. Presumably naming themselves after the Runaways’ smash hit “Cherry Bomb,” thus placing themselves firmly in the history of women in rock, the four women of Cherry Bomb — Beverly, Cal, K.C., and Ronette — are so charismatic and talented that you will get mad at Howard for hogging all the attention with his funny animal antics. I would would watch an entire miniseries about Cherry Bomb trying to make it in the cutthroat music industry of the eighties.
And Cherry Bomb is even more impressive behind the scenes. Thomas Dolby — THE Thomas Dolby — wrote all their songs and supervised the music as part of Dolby’s Cube, his studio-focused project. The four actresses playing Cherry Bomb — Lea Thompson, Dominique Davalos, Holly Robinson, and Liz Sagal—all sang their own vocals and performed Dolby’s choreography. To this day, Lea Thompson has her guitar from the film, which she still plays occasionally.
All of that adds up to the truly amazing but often overlooked work of Dolby’s Cube featuring Cherry Bomb. The eponymous track from the film is an earworm par excellence (thanks to the contributions of George Clinton), and “Don’t Turn Away” is the kind of emotional ballad the '80s excelled at. But “Hunger City” is far and away the best Cherry Bomb song, all heavy guitar riffs and soaring vocals, a defiant cry that they will all survive.
If the inevitable Marvel Cinematic Universe Howard the Duck reboot doesn’t solve the rights nightmare to take advantage of the amazing songs of this amazing band, then they are fools.