The 50 best uses of songs in movies
TONY ranks the coolest soundtrack moments of all time.
Thu Jan 12 2012
30. "Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen, Wayne's World (1992)
Who can forget Wayne and Garth's headbanging downtown drive to this operatic power ballad? Director Penelope Spheeris was hesitant to use the song, but costar Mike Myers insisted, and its pop-cultural status soared. If a recent Muppets cover is any indication, this is the hit that keeps on giving.—Keith Uhlich
Watch the video for "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen
29. "Perfect Day," Lou Reed, Trainspotting (1996)
Whether Reed's tune is a direct reference to heroin has been long debated, but what isn't arguable is how effectively Danny Boyle employs it—as an overdosing Ewan McGregor imagines he's in a shag-carpeted coffin. The song's blissful lyrics make this junkie nightmare even more disturbing; it's the "perfect" example of needle-drop irony.—David Fear
Watch the video for "Perfect Day" by Lou Reed
28. "Old Time Rock and Roll," Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Risky Business (1983)
From 1983—a time when the whole world could love Tom Cruise unreservedly—comes this euphoric scene of geeked-out underwear dancing, set to the scratchy bar-band stylings of Bob Seger. Cruise even jumps on a couch and it's okay.—Joshua Rothkopf
Watch the video for "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
27. "Oh Yeah," Yello, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
John Hughes, that poet of teen-pop angst, was bound to appear on this list somewhere. Not so surprisingly, it's via this Swiss-recorded dance beat, a perfect complement to the Ferrari-stealing antics of the title character. Just try not smiling (devilishly) when you hear it.—Joshua Rothkopf
Watch the video for "Oh Yeah" by Yello
26. "Blue Moon," Sam Cooke, An American Werewolf in London (1981)
David Naughton's lupine transformation is set to Cooke's crooning cover of the Rodgers and Hart standard, making it the most memorable (and jarring) of John Landis's wink-nudge musical choices. Rick Baker's groundbreaking makeup work may bring on the howling, but this lunar ballad adds a dark dose of levity.—David Fear
Watch the video for "Blue Moon" by Sam Cooke
25. "Tiny Dancer," Elton John, Almost Famous (2000)
Never underestimate the healing power of Elton John: As the '70s rock band of Cameron Crowe's autobiographical drama piles into its tour bus, everyone's in a funk. Then this uplifting 1971 tribute to an L.A. lady comes on, and soon, everybody is singing along—including you.—David Fear
Watch the video for "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John
24. "Rock Around the Clock," Bill Haley and the Comets, Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Rock & roll was the soundtrack to juvenile delinquency, so how better to kick off a film about high-school hoodlums than with a real poodle-skirt scorcher? Bill Haley's 1954 B-side turned on tons of teens to this raucous new sound—the first use of rock music in a movie, but far from the last, Daddy-o.—David Fear
Watch the video for "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets
23. "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," the Delfonics, Jackie Brown (1997)
This impassioned 1970s single is the soul of Quentin Tarantino's most romantic movie: Robert Forster's grizzled bail-bondsman hears the tune in the living room of beleaguered, beautiful client Pam Grier. It sends him from charmed to infatuated—and straight to the record store.—Keith Uhlich
Watch the video for "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" by the Delfonics
22. "Hurdy Gurdy Man," Donovan, Zodiac (2007)
This near-primal scene starts with two young adults flirting in a Corvair at a lovers' lane, until the headlights of a mysterious car pull up behind them. Suddenly, the song on the radio can only signify evil. By the time David Fincher returns to Donovan's sinuous groove in his closing credits, the tune has been transformed. (A clearer clip of the scene is here.)—Joshua Rothkopf
Watch the video for "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan
21. "The Sound of Silence," Simon and Garfunkel, The Graduate (1967)
Hello darkness, my old friend: The signature track off the duo's 1966 album perfectly underscores Dustin Hoffman's descent into suburban bummersville, as the song's melody casts a melancholic pallor over his interchangeable lazy afternoons and numbing sexual trysts.—David Fear
Watch the video for "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel
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Somewhere Over The Rainbow - during the shoot out in Face/Off. Violence through the eyes of an eight year old.
You've missed a few good ones from the last decade, which other people in the comments have suggested. Forbidden Friendship - How to Train Your Dragon
Come on, man !!!! Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Twist and Shout Back to the future - johnny b good The mission - gabriel's oboe matrix etc etc
Two Tribes ...Supergrass( Robbie Coltrane) .....Florida Fantasy ..Midnight Express. Wandering Star ..Paint your Wagon.. Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia...Way out West ....The Real Me ....Quadrophenia.
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Bill Murray's Karaoke cover of Roxy Music's of 'More than This' should have definitely been placed in the top 50 not to mention Sinatra's 'it had to be you in when harry met sally
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Well, thought out list - Kudos. One that HAS to be in the top ten though - "Falling Slowly" in Once. Its use near the beginning of the film was fantastic, and set the entire tone for the movie. But its use in the ending was the best use of music in a movie ending ever.
Great list bit it's missing dont you forget about me - Simple Minds from the breakfast club. Perfect match of song to movie.
I really expected to see something from Forrest Gump (the entire soundtrack) and Dazed and Confused (the entire soundtrack)
Have yourself a merry little Christmas from The Victors, as the young soldier faces the firing squad!
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a Lovely day in 127 hours - the entire soundtrack of Into the wild dueling banjos in Deliverance the "little train song Harry and Hermione dance to in HP&the DH the Doors in what?every Vietnam movie
good call, digga; the entire movie was a set up of that movie - You're gonna love me from Dreamgirls should be here, too and and where are streets of fire,feed me from Little shop of horrors; sister act? and sweeney todd?the proclaimers in Beny & Joon
So a song from an Adam Sandler movie beats out "La Marseilles" AND "AsTime Goes By" from "Casablanca"? Who's making these f*ing lists, chimps with typewriters?