Rewind the Music

One of the most gratifying moments in a great movie is when a character sings one of your favorite songs. Movie-watchers experience a soar of emotion, a reaffirmation, an opportunity to connect in a simple, authentic, sincere way. These moments are totally memorable: "Bohemian Rhapsody" in Wayne's World, "Tiny Dancer" in Almost Famous, "I Say a Little Prayer" in My Best Friend's Wedding, and of course, the quintessential,"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" in Top Gun.

Now, I'm all about campy, and I'm all about bridging the gap between popular movies and musicals, but today I was thinking about some really great songs that define and underscore (pun) movie moments without starting a sing-along. So, I started making a (totally subjective) list of my favorite unsung movie music:
8. Simple Minds, "Don't You Forget About Me" in The Breakfast Club: 
7. Harry Nilsson, "Everybody's Talkin'" in Midnight Cowboy: 

6. The Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in The Big Chill: 

5. Simon and Garfunkel, "The Only Living Boy in New York" in Garden State:
 4. Queen, "Don't Stop Me Now" in Shaun of the Dead:

3. Yellow, "Oh Yeah" in Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

2. Elliott Smith, "Needle in the Hay" in The Royal Tenenbaums:

And, my personal favorite, whose video is totally NSFWOYEAAP (not safe for work or your eyes at all, probably):

1. Stealers Wheel, "Stuck in the Middle With You" in Reservoir Dogs:

I'd only gotten this far when I mentioned this list to my friend Ben Sheehan (he created that Conan tribute video that I posted on the blog and that is now apparently going viral all over the place). He said it would be waaaaaay funnier (he uses a lot of "a's") and more entertaining if I made a list of the WORST movie music moments. And, maybe he's right.  So, here are the (totally objective) moments that were so memorable and so abrasive that they either ruined the film, or ruined the song for us forever:
7. Sixpence None the Richer, "Kiss Me" in She's All That;
6. The Wallflowers, "Heroes" in Gozilla; 
5. The Cardigans, "Love Fool" in Romeo + Juliet;
4. R. Kelly, "I Believe I Can Fly" in Space Jam;
3. Seal, "Kiss from A Rose" in Batman Forever;
2. Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On" in Titanic;
1. Aerosmith, "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" in Armageddon.

Now, is it just a COINCIDENCE all these movies were made in the '90s? I don't think so. I think the 1960s and 1970s used up all the real musical talent there was in the universe, and then the 1980s used up all the novelty and synth there was in the universe, and the 1990s were left with nothing but cheesy pop songs and boy bands. I mean, Bob Dylan's son doing a cover of a David Bowie song for a movie remake of GODZILLA? That is the most blasphemous thing I have ever heard.

So, feel free to blow up the comments with your suggestions for either category.  And, since no one has ever blown up my comments section before, you can consider this a desperate cry for attention.
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April 8, 2010 at 8:54 PM delete

The movie Wild Wild West ruined the song "Wild Wild West" by Will Smith for me.

Wiki wiki wiki.

On a more serious note, the opening credits sequence to Watchmen, accompanied by "The Times They Are a-Changin'" by Bob Dylan, is one of the more beautiful modern combos of popular music with cinema.

April 8, 2010 at 9:18 PM delete

Good list.

While I think of non-sing alongs, I will first add the sing along songs that immediately came to mind. Clearly Afternoon Delight in Anchorman was amazing. I know Total Eclipse of the Heart by the Dan Band in Old School launched Alison and my karaoke careers to stardom. And while it's not a movie, I know everyone around our age loves the climax of the most serious episode of SBTB outside of the don't smoke dope episode: Jessie Spano singing "I'm so excited" while hopped up on those dangerous caffeine pills.

As for the best soundtrack-ed scenes, Here goes my list (in no particular order):

-Huey Lewis and the News, "Hip to Be Square" in American Psycho when Patrick Bateman kills Paul Allen with an ax.

-The Layla outro in Goodfellas when Jimmy is whacking everybody.

-Moving in Stereo by the Cars in Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Phoebe Cates gets out of the swimming pool.

-The Forrest Gump running scene with Against the Wind. Looking back, that whole running scene has awesome songs as they also use Running on Empty, It Keeps you Runnin', and Go Your Own Way throughout the running montage.

-I got you Babe in Groundhog Day was probably the perfect (read: most agonizing) song to make Phil Connors wake up to over and over again in Groundhog Day.

-Free Ride by Edgar Winter in Dazed and Confused.

Finally, I don't know what category to put this final one, so I'll label it either awesomely bad or awfully great: Ninja Rap by Vanilla Ice in TMNT 2.

April 8, 2010 at 9:29 PM delete

Damn, girl. I LOVED this. Spot-on. I will have to sit and think about your considerations. Brad added some great ones too.

Thanks for a good laugh on a rough day.

April 8, 2010 at 9:31 PM delete

Good call on the Watchmen opening credits montage. Watchmen also had another great musical choice: Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" during the sex scene. There is something twisted and bizarre about it, but for some reason it just seemed to fit perfectly in that scene.


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