Best Songs Used in Movies

Over at Time Out New York (TONY) they created a list of the best songs used in movies. If the song is right it can enhance a scene tenfold. Music sets the mood of the scene and allows for the watcher to feel exactly what the characters are feeling.

Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson and David Fincher know exactly how to use music in their movies. I have downloaded every soundtrack from each of their movies and listen to them constantly. It is always the unexpected songs that add power to the scene. That is why this list is fascinating.

The one song that should be on here is “A Real Hero” by College ft Electric Youth from Drive. That song perfectly fit the mood of the movie and was stuck in my head for days after.

While I won’t post all the songs, I will post the ones that have impacted me as I watched the films. To view the entire list, click here.

50. “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away),” EnyaThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
In David Fincher’s latest antiseptic thriller, the murderer has all the usual instruments of torture: poison gas, sharp scalpels, immobilizing slings. But most harrowing of all? A taste for blasting Enya’s cloying hit song at eye-glazing volume. (We don’t have the clip—and wouldn’t want to ruin the killer’s identity for you anyway—but here’s that cool trailer again.)—Keith Uhlich

48. “You Never Can Tell,” Chuck BerryPulp Fiction (1994)
Of the many peppy, pop-culture-charged scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s landmark crime comedy, few pack the giddy punch of this Jack Rabbit Slim’s musical number, set to a Chuck Berry jaunt. Uma Thurman slinks with feline grace, and John Travolta proves he’s still got the Tony Manero moves.—KU

45. “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” Bob DylanWatchmen (2009)
Zack Snyder’s faithful-to-a-fault adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s influential graphic novel is a dud, save its mesmerizing, Bob Dylan–scored opening-credits sequence. Dylan’s folk prophecy poetically complements the history of the story’s superhero protagonists, from their WWII heyday to a Vietnam-era fall from grace.—KU

42. “These Days,” Nico, The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Gwyneth Paltrow is immortalized as the alluring, raccoon-eyed Margot Tenenbaum in Wes Anderson’s slo-mo tracking shot, which captures a sweet reunion, a hint of nostalgia and the filmmaker’s signature coziness, all wrapped up in the Teutonic loveliness of Nico’s quiet voice. If Anderson’s choices were always this restrained, he’d be a giant.— Joshua Rothkopf

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.—JR

25. “Tiny Dancer,” Elton JohnAlmost 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

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.—DF

18. “Where Is My Mind?,” Pixies, Fight Club(1999)
“Trust me, everything’s going to be fine,” says Edward Norton in the final seconds of David Fincher’s unclassifiable thriller, as the skyline explodes outside the window. Buildings fall, two hands clasp tenderly, and the future is uncertain. The keening voices of Frank Black and Kim Deal seal the mood.—JR

And the number one song is…

1. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Richard Strauss, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
It builds, softly, with three ascending notes…then an eruption of strings and woodwinds, punctuated by colossal timpani hits. That’s when the light crests over a gigantic planet—the view of a sunrise as seen from an orbiting space station, or witnessed by God Himself. Stanley Kubrick wanted to use classical compositions instead of the commissioned (and discarded) Alex North score to attain an appropriately massive soundtrack to his cerebral sci-fi masterpiece, and Richard Strauss’s tone poem supplies the film’s opening moments with an immediate sense of scope and grandeur: This is what the majesty of the universe sounds like. Everyone from Elvis Presley to the makers of cat-food commercials has since hijacked this Nietzsche-inspired work for their grand entrances, but Kubrick got there first; by the time 2001’s title credit shows up under that sustained musical burst, the combination of sound and image has already transported you to infinity and beyond.—DF



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Categories: Director, Movie, Music, Musician, Singer, Songs


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