It’s the cli­mac­tic kiss at the end of the movie, the char­ac­ter arc that plucks at your heart­strings, the song that al­ways gets you right in the gut – pop cul­ture is, in many ways, built upon a smor­gas­bord of schmaltz. Af­ter all, cheese pleases. There’s com­fort in that corni­ness and overt sen­ti­men­tal­ity – the sort of up­lift­ing dis­trac­tion from the harsh re­al­i­ties of life that we crave. Sounds pretty

sch­maltzy, right? That’s the point! Like its fatty name­sake, it im­bues art with a dis­tinct flavour, one that can elicit both joy and tears. So whether you’re throw­ing a fes­tive din­ner party or or­ga­niz­ing a cosy movie night, con­sider pop cul­ture ac­cou­trements that scream, to para­phrase Jerry Maguire, “Show me the schmaltz!”

Five Songs Of Schmaltz

Like a waltz through schmaltz, con­sider this your sound­track to a senti-

men­tal­ity-tinged soirée. “As Time Goes By,” Doo­ley Wil­son “You must re­mem­ber this/A kiss is just a kiss…” This de­light­ful tune from Casablanca will have your guests float­ing on air as they cir­cle the hors d’oeu­vre ta­ble. It could be the be­gin­ning of a beau­ti­ful party. “Peo­ple,” Bar­bra Streisand Babs’ Funny Girl stan­dard about lucky lovers and “peo­ple who need peo­ple” in­vokes the spirit of hu­man­ity – great for calm­ing un­ruly guests who have one too many drinks and start climb­ing the fur­ni­ture. “I’d Do Any­thing for Love,” Meat Loaf All hail the King of Schmaltz – a long-haired man named af­ter a hunk of ground meat

belt­ing out an epic bal­lad so con­fi­dent in its campi­ness that it topped the charts and won a Grammy. “To­tal Eclipse of the Heart,” Bon­nie Tyler “Turn around/Every now and then I get a lit­tle bit” sch­maltzy … A decade be­fore lyri­cist/ pro­ducer Jim Stein­man penned Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Any­thing for Love,” he wrote and pro­duced this hit, in which Bon­nie Tyler sang her lungs out about un­re­quited love in one of the 1980s’ great power bal­lads. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Jour­ney You can’t help but sing along to this op­ti­mistic clas­sic that im­plores you to “hold on to that feel­ing.” Not to men­tion it be­longs in the Hall of Schmaltz as, re­port­edly, the most down­loaded 20th-cen­tury tune.

Big-Screen Schmaltz

These five film clas­sics raise schmaltz to a fine art. The Sound of Mu­sic As a gen­eral rule, singing while spin­ning around on the side of a moun­tain is enough to trig­ger the schmaltz meter, but add a lit­tle “Edel­weiss” and a big happy croon­ing fam­ily, and you’d have to be a real grouch – or Christo­pher Plum­mer – not to ap­pre­ci­ate this flick. Beaches This tale of friend­ship both true and fraught spans decades and fared far bet­ter among au­di­ences than crit­ics, who gen­er­ally de­rided it. But fans keep com­ing back, aching for that tear­ful cli­mac­tic sun­set that plays out to “Wing Be­neath My Wings.” Peak 1980s schmaltz. Field of Dreams With the Oc­to­ber Clas­sic in full swing, re­visit this feel-good gem about re­demp­tion, baseball and the bond be­tween a fa­ther and a son. The schmaltz tran­scends gen­er­a­tions, so sit the grand­kids down to screen it, too. If you play it, they will watch. A Char­lie Brown Christ­mas Some retro 1960s schmaltz that sees Char­lie Brown fi­nally crack a smile when his friends help him dec­o­rate his sad lit­tle tree – a scene that con­tin­ues to warm hearts on cold win­ter nights. Ti­tanic If scenes like Jack shout­ing, “I’m the king of the world!” on the bow of the boat and Rose declar­ing “I’ll never let go” be­fore her beloved fades into the frigid At­lantic aren’t enough, us­ing Cé­line Dion’s epic chest-pound­ing hit “My Heart Will Go On” as the sound­track to the whole or­deal both made this film a mod­ern clas­sic and en­sured that the schmaltz will go on and on. —Mike Criso­lago

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