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Weekly List: Songs in Movies

Posted: October 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: ,

In honor of the movie Drive, which has an awesome sound track and is good to watch also, the blogging staff have compiled a brief list of our favorite songs in movies.  These are songs that come in, sometimes out of nowhere, to elevate a great scene in a film to truly memorable status.


Bill Withers — “Ain’t No Sunshine” in Notting Hill

I love this clip from Notting Hill. Instead of flashing “one year later” on the screen, we see Will walking through the familiar route from home to his travel bookshop through the marketplace and the seasons. The melancholy of Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine” perfectly fits the mood. In the course of the walk, his friend finds and loses a boyfriend and a woman has a baby. The whole time, he’s lost in his thoughts about his brief relationship with actress Anna Scott which, incidentally, crumbled at the hands of his idiot roommate Spike, the best character in the film, played by Rhys Ifans. He doesn’t feel like he has the right to contact her and she’s just gone. It’s also literally fitting with the seasons of fall and winter book ended by the sunshine and Anna’s visits to Notting Hill. The scene almost makes you forget Elvis Costello belting out “She” at the film’s opening to the montage of Julia Roberts clips on red carpets and in films. Why Elvis, why?



Jesus and Mary Chain –“Just Like Honey” in Lost in Translation


The video shows the ending of a movie that I was so engrossed in at the time such that the departure of the two characters from each other, as well as from Tokyo, was doubly effective.  “Lost in Translation” was an excellent movie that one had to soak up and be patient with, so this ending song was a powerful closer for me after living through the characters and the scenery for a few hours.  The fuzzed out Jesus and Mary Chain track was perfect and made me seek out the group’s “Psychocandy” album as well as albums by My Bloody Valentine.


Pixies- “Where is My Mind?” in Fight Club

Elen didn’t tell me why she liked it so much, but I guess this one sort of goes without saying.


The Stooges- “Search and Destroy” in The Life Aquatic

Wes Anderson is in many ways the king of using pop music to comment on scenes in his films.  But this scene from The Life Aquatic takes the cake as the most over-the-top musical insertion in any of his films.  Even in the context of The Life Aquatic’s constant allusions to David Bowie, which is itself an integral component in the film’s absurdity, the pirate shoot-out scene with “Search and Destroy” blaring in the background manages to transcend the ironic distance between the camera and Steve Zissou. As Iggy Pop growls “Look out honey ’cause I’m using technology” we see Bill Murray firing away for minutes from a gun that never needs reloading. The scene’s final moment where Murray throws the suddenly empty gun into the ocean is the perfect punctuation to my choice for the best song in a movie.


Too many to pick!

When I sat down to think about excellent songs or soundtracks in movies, I immediately thought of a few of my favorites.  The Hans Zimmer theme song from Tarantino’s True Romance is catchier than this season’s flu.  Gillian Welch, Allison Krauss, and Emmylou Harris lending their talents to the Siren’s song in O Brother, Where Art Thou are the icing on the cake to a movie full of amazing bluegrass tunes and period folk Americana. I love how the soundtrack works in the movie Lost In Translation. It includes a song by Phoenix, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’, as well as excellent karaoke by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.  And what better a way to open Billy Elliot than with this appropriate T. Rex song?

At the end of the day, after considering an amazing diversity of songs made for movies, songs that work well in movies, and even some musicals, I have to submit Empire Records for my pick.  From the opening of the shop when Mark gets to pick the tune because he has the chosen m&m color, to Joe’s cathartic drum session of ACDC, to the ending roof top concert and dance.  It all rocks.


  1. Bly says:

    Ahh! Totally agree with Empire Records! SUCH a classic!

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