I’m taking a quick break from my songs by decade lists to let some other people catch up with their lists and to do a list that I thought of awhile ago and was reminded of by a friend. Sometimes a pop song is used so effectively in a movie that it becomes inexorably connected to the scene it was used, to the point where you can’t hear the song without thinking of the movie in which it was used. These aren’t songs created for the movie, but rather songs that existed prior to the movie but are now forever linked with it. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather a list of songs/movies that pop into my head rather effortlessly (which makes sense, since it’s a requirement to make the list that the scene be memorable). I’m sure there’s tonnes of examples of scenes made memorable by the song used in it, so feel free to come up with your lists or to mention others here.
Honourable Mentions: “Shout” by Lloyd Williams from Animal House, “Shadow on the Sun” by Audioslave from Collateral, “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy from Do the Right Thing
5. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel from Say Anything…
One of the most iconic moments from any movie from the 80s, Lloyd Dobler holding his boombox over his head to serenade Diane with Peter Gabriel might be the most memorable use of music in a movie ever. But the song is kinda lame, so it only gets the number five spot here.
4. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen from Wayne’s World
This scene introduced Queen’s epic to a new generation, showing them the best way to listen to it at the same time. Great comedic scene, but also a pretty accurate depiction of the aimless way teens cruise around town in crappy cars while jamming out to music (pretty much spent most of my Friday nights in high school like this, only to different music).
3. “Ride of the Valkyries” by Wagner from Apocalypse Now
I’m guessing that when Wagner wrote his epic opera Die Walküre, he had higher hopes for it than to be remembered either for this scene where Robert Duvall leads his helicopter Air Cavalry in destroying a Viet Cong village or from Elmer Fudd. Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit…
2. “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel from Reservoir Dogs
Not since A Clockwork Orange used “William Tell’s Overture” has a formerly peppy song been so perverted by a movie scene (that scene doesn’t make the list because I’ve never seen A Clockwork Orange). After seeing Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) torture the cop while dancing to this song, it’s hard to think of anything else while hearing it.
1. “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John from Almost Famous
I listed this as my number five movie scene back in November, which is probably when I came up with the idea of this list. My favourite scene from one of my favourite movies.