When Andrew first proposed I participate in this month’s list-a-thon competition about songs in movies I was like, sure, why not. But then came the kicker. No songs made specifically for the movie. Whhhhhhaaaaaattttttttttt? Nearly all my favorite movies are musicals so they are automatically out (although, “White Christmas” was written for Holiday Inn NOT White Christmas so it may have made it on a technicality)! That and all I’m exposed to in recent years are kids movies–which lets face it, either I fall asleep to or are also musicals with their own made-for-the-movie soundtrack (I’m actually concerned “Into the Unknown” will never stop repeating in my brain, over and over and over and over…
But then I started thinking about it and major nostalgia started setting in, and all of a sudden I was seeing scene after scene and my list grew and grew until I had to tame it down some. Now, let’s be clear. When Andrew gave me this assignment he said they were my favorite uses of songs in movies, not the most iconic or critically acclaimed. So for me this means when I hear this song I automatically think of a scene in the movie and vice versa when I hear the song I think of the movie. I won’t lie, this list is chalk full of 80s, 90s and 2000s mostly rom-com movies–but that’s my prerogative so take that interwebs!
Before I get into my list I want to give a quick shout out to some runner ups. Both of these movies popped into my head pretty quickly but when it came down to it I realized that both had amazing soundtracks in general but I couldn’t narrow it down to a song that emblazed itself in my brain and immediately had the scene replaying in my mind.
Remember the Titans is one of my favorite movies of the early 2000s and the soundtrack full of 60s-70s classic music was the perfect backdrop. “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor during Gary’s crash scene probably came the closest but with “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough”, CCR, multiple Temptations songs and even a little Bobby D there are too many songs to chose from.
“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum is not only in Remember the Titans but also is featured in my second honorable mention: Apollo 13.
Unapologetically classic rock of this era is amongst my favorite music in general. How can you not love “Purple Haze” and “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane and The Who’s “I Can See for Miles and Miles”? Again I remember listening to the soundtrack on my portable CD player, over and over and over but there wasn’t just that ONE song that made this list.
If I had to pick I would say Hank Williams “Honky Tonkin'” because I literally can see Bill Paxton filming the crew’s broadcast back to Earth and traversing the tunnel into the lunar module but runner up it remains.
Ok, on to the list!
10.) “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer featured in She’s All That (1999)
So, I have a confession. I don’t like this movie. And I don’t like this song.
But it automatically made the list because it was the VERY FIRST song/movie scene that came to mind and Andrew can corroborate this fact. I have no idea why. Freddie Prince Jr. certainly was a hottie back then but geez this movie was a pile of late 90’s poo. I don’t even know the stupid characters names. And I actually don’t even know if the song was playing during the stupid poolside dance scene (turns out it was a lot earlier in the movie when she comes down the stairs after her “transformation”) but in my mind this movie and this song are inextricable from each other and evidently that is why it was the first thing that popped in my head.
As much as it pains me to have this make the list but not Apollo 13 or Remember the Titans, credit where credit is due. Clearly whatever marketing they did or possibly the fact that the radio-play this song got was insane my brain has been branded forever.
9.) “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears from Real Genius (1985)
This may be a hidden gem. Nerds. Hidden closet roommates. Lasers. Val Kilmer. Popcorn. Lots of popcorn. Cut to the end credits and this song brings me back every time.
8.) “Leaving on A Jet Plane” by John Denver sung by Ben Affleck and cast from Armageddon (1998)
So obviously this movie has a monster ballad associated with it but it was against the rules to use a song made for the movie soooo…
For me one of the most tender moments of this movie was when Ben Affleck’s character is leaving “on a jet plane” and sings to his lovely bride to be played by Liv Tyler. And then the whole crew joins in! Tears!
7.) “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd featured in Forrest Gump (1994)
Seriously, can anyone hear this song and not see Jenny standing on the ledge?
6.) “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson featured in Centerstage (2000)
This was probably one of the most watched movies during college circa 2001. My roommate and I watched it so often and although now in retrospect of course you can see how bad the acting was it still is beloved in my heart. I almost picked Mandy Moore’s “Candy” featured in the non-ballet class dance warm up scene (which immediately precedes innocent Jodie being seduced by the Principal dancer Cooper Neilson). We danced this choreography so often and I’m sure there are many photos out there to prove it!
But in the end, it’s Michael Jackson’s “The Way you Make Me Feel” which is featured in the final dance of the movie that made the cut.
Ballet + motorcycle = enough said.
5.) “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
I assume this is the least known song on my entire list. Heck, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it on the radio to be honest. But when you realize you love someone for the first time, sometimes the song playing in the background just sticks. Maybe one day Andrew and I will ride a ferry into Manhattan with this song playing! (Hint! Hint!)
4.) “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers featured in Notting Hill (1999)
This movie contains one of my favorite songs of all time “When You Say Nothing At All” but I’m not as keen on the version in this movie. However, I can’t reliably say I had ever heard of this song before. I’ve heard it many time since but it always brings me back to Hugh Grant strolling down Notting Hill road looking all despondent from having lost Julia Roberts. I mean, it is fairly understandable. I think we’d all feel that way.
3.) “Love is Strange” by Mickey and Silvia featured in Dirty Dancing (1987)
So many songs to pick from this movie, but this scene of Patrick Swayze crawling on the floor and playing air guitar was always one of my favorites!
2.) “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers featured in Ghost (1990)
I mean who doesn’t want to be felt up by a ghost while you make pottery? Especially a Patrick Swayze ghost!
1.) “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers sung by Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards from Top Gun (1986)
Again, the most iconic songs of this movie are “not allowed” in this contest but I dare you to hear “Take my Breath Away” by Berlin without seeing Tom Cruise make out with Kelly McGinnis. Speaking of, that scene is both incredibly sexy but simultaneously super gross! So much tongue action!
But the song that brings it all home will always be “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” whether it’s Tom Cruise crooning it out or playing on the jute box when he returns to TOPGUN. Ahh…Tom Cruise back in the day, he was hot as hell, had that mischievous streak and was still normal.
Oh and beach volleyball has never looked so good!