Sunday, May 6, 2012

The 100 Best Uses of Songs in Movies pt. 8 (of 10)

A little overdue, but part 8 has arrived.  The problem with a largely 'personal' blog? Deadlines don't actually exist.  Anyhow, this time around I figure I should clarify that the qualifying factor for all the songs on this list is that they had to have been in existence prior to the film itself.  They're being used by the film.  Sometimes they're a diegetic needle drop in the moment, calling on a pop song we all know and love. Sometimes, it's a bit of score swapped from a classical piece for extra dramatic flair.  For the purpose of this list, the songs can't be composed explicitly for the film (though maybe that list will come one day).  Check out numbers 1-70 here


71. "As Time Goes By" / from the musical Everybody's Welcome
Casablanca (1942)
One of the most famous musical cues in all of cinema; the original "Play it again, Sam" moment.  A man, a woman, and a song Warner Brothers still uses to back its logo. Dooley Wilson's rendition of the song lent an endearing, lasting romance to an already atmospheric film.  Beautiful & absolutely classic.  

72. "The Times They Are a-Changin'" / Bob Dylan
Watchmen (2009)
It's hard to mention Zack Snyder's adaptation of Alan Moore's brilliant graphic novel without sparking a heated debate, but one thing even the haters should be able to agree upon is the technical brilliance and phenomenal detail of the opening credits.  Sorry high school teachers, but this is certainly the best use of the played out folk ballad I've ever encountered.  

73. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" / Santa Esmeralda
Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003)
The Bride (Uma Thurman) travels to the east to face off against Oren (Lucy Liu) and Tarantino keeps the balance between the samurai and western influences even with a bit of Spanish guitar disco in a snowy Zen garden.  The rhythms build, tensions rise, and the stylized idiosyncratic nature of the scene hits the roof.  

74. "Don't Stop Me Now" / Queen
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Can you hear this song without visions of zombie beatings dancing in your head?  I can't. Synchronized destruction with a beat you can dance to.  

75. "In Dreams" / Roy Orbison
Blue Velvet (1986)
There ain't no party like a David Lynch party.  Long before "Crazy Clown Time" we had Frank Booth, Dorothy Vallens, and a very special moment brought to you by Roy Orbison.    By the way, we've all noticed that "Crazy Clown Time" is totally just a remixed version of "The Pink Room" from the Fire Walk With Me score, right?  Yeah. It is. But with creepy vocals.

76. "New Slang" / The Shins
Garden State (2004)
It's hard for me to ignore Garden State as it's one of those movies that came out at exactly the right time in my life.  It seemed to take everyone at school by storm, and people suddenly became incredibly affectionate and weirdly, prematurely nostalgic about The Shins.  The soundtrack was the thing to play in any non-party situation, and while I'd originally wanted to opt for "The Only Living Boy in New York" as the key moment here (screaming into the abyss, and all), M. pointed out that ignoring "New Slang" would be fairly criminal.  

77. "Puttin' on the Ritz" / Fred Astaire
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The reasons why this is great: do I even have to explain them?  No. Absolutely not. For how else do you prove that a monster is a refined, dignified human being?  Tap dancing, tuxes, and the full Fred Astaire. 

78. "Faith" / George Michael
Rules of Attraction (2002)
Couldn't get the clip for this one, so you'll have to watch it here. While the film is fairly minor (though it definitely has a loyal underground following), and mentioning it in the same breath as something like Casablanca feels like severe juxtaposition...The Rules of Attraction excels at the ADHD mayhem it depicts.  Pushing against the darkness we have strange bits of bright, drug-fueled, sexualized joy.  The moment Ian Somerhalder and Russell Sams bounce furiously about the room to "Faith" is a bizarrely memorable, too brief respite.   

79. "Sweet Emotion" / Aerosmith
Dazed and Confused (1993)
I can't lie to you: I never really 'got' this movie.  It just didn't click for me.  That said, I've never really been able to divorce "Sweet Emotion" from the film's opening credits. It's a perfect moment, and those opening notes work like a time machine.  

80. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" / Rolling Stones
The Big Chill (1983)
I have a problem with The Big Chill.  See, at first I really didn't like it.  I thought it was absurdly overrated and massively problematic.  I still think it's problematic, but, for some reason I've found myself returning to it every so often. It's oddly comforting even though it's fairly infuriating (WHY DO THEY DO THAT SWAP? WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?!?).   I've come to appreciate the use of the Rolling Stones track during this somber reunion.  It's become a cliche now, but it had to start somewhere, right? 

7 comments:

  1. Some of my all-time favorite uses of songs in movies made the cut this time, especially 80, which I find equally moving and hilarious with each viewing.

    75 is another fave. And 72 was such a great scene in an otherwise terrible movie, in my opinion.

    Another great addition!

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    1. I always forget that The Big Chill has quite a bit of humor in it, and then I remember: Jeff Goldblum is in this movie. I don't know about you, but something about just seeing that guy tends to make me fall into the giggle loop.

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  2. I'm with you on Watchmen-- in fact I'd argue that that's the only good use of music in the film other than All Along the Watchtower. And good call on Shaun of the Dead, too. That's one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie.

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    1. They did use "All Along the Watchtower" pretty well too, but yes, the music definitely has some very poor moments in that film. Ugh, the Nena track. Horrible.

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  3. I can't believe I didn't know of this feature until now. I'm going to have to go back and look through them all, but without looking I'll saw that Cameron Crowe makes some fantastic movie music scenes and Wayne's World Bohemian Rhapsody is of course an all-time favorite.

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    1. Glad you found it! And, don't worry, I've definitely got those bases covered. Though, while we're on the topic, which Crowe selections are your favorite?

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    2. 'Tiny Dancer' Almost Famous and 'Secret Garden' Jerry Maguire.

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