Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Ten Most Memorable Uses of Songs at the Movies

Here’s a little clarification as to what this list is about. The songs chosen re songs which must have existed before production of the movies they were used in. This is a list of the best uses of already existing songs, not original songs written for the movie or soundtrack.

10. Twist and Shout
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The famous parade scene where Ferris gets the crowd going with his lip syncing actually has two songs; this and Danke Schoen. But Twist and Shout has the most energy and is the most memorable.

9. Shout
Animal House

Animal House’s famous toga party scene sees Otis Day and the Knights playing many great songs, but energy is never higher when this fantastic tune is being played. just try to watch this scene with having it improve your mood a little bit.

8. La Marseilles
Casablanca

This great scene in one of the greatest movies of all time shows the power of the resistance which exists in all of the French residents in Nazi-occupied Morocco. It also establishes the importance of Victor Laszlo. Its a simple moment of triumph in the film, but its certainly a memorable one.

7. Tiny Dancer
Almost Famous

We’ve all experience it; those out-of-the-blue, contagious singalongs. The Elton John singalong comes at just the right moment, just after lead guitarist Russell makes a fool of himself at a house party and returns to the band embarrassed and disheveled. The joy of music is enough to bring this band together at least for a moment.

6. Old Time Rock and Roll
Risky Business


Tom Cruise’s famous dance scene to Bob Seger’s classic is one of those iconic movie moments. In fact, this song moment is so memorable, its what almost everyone thinks of when they hear of this movie. In fact, I’d wager that most people don’t know anything else about the movie outside of this scene.

5. Stuck in the Middle With You
Reservoir Dogs

*Warning: May be disturbing. Also, spoilers.

This is certainly the most disturbing entry on the list. Such a peppy song paired up with such a grotesque action as Mr. Blonde tortures a captured cop in the warehouse. Its hard not to think about that scene when you hear the song now. Tarantino really likes the interplay of great songs with great scenes, but he has yet to better himself than what he did here.

4. Bohemian Rhapsody
Wayne’s World

Good call.

The headbanging in the car scene in the best SNL-based movie ever made features this classic Queen epic which jump-started Queen back in the spotlight. The song, which was eighteen years old at the time, immediately found itself climbing the billboard charts once again. This beloved song is treated as such by the film. Its really a homage to Queen and all other great music like theirs.

3. Johnny B. Goode
Back to the Future

It was an oldie where he came from, but they weren’t quite ready for it. This song is so embedded within the fabric of this iconic film it had to be high on this list. Marty McFly rocked the roof off of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and even inspired a certain cousin of Marvin Berry to write his great classic.

2. The Ride of the Valkyries
Apocalypse Now

Movies almost always have their very own composers who write their own original scores for the films. But every once in a while a director will choose to use a classical masterpiece. In this case, Coppola decided to use Wagner’s great, rousing opera song Ride of the Valkyries for his helicopter attack scene.
Kilgore used the music to scare the Vietcong as they approached, but what it really did was get the blood of audiences pumping.

1. Thus Spake Zarathustra
2001: A Space Odyssey

This Strauss masterpiece is simply the most memorable piece of previously created music used in film there has ever been. This combination of sound and sight between Strauss’s song and Kubrick’s amazing film is powerful and very effective. In fact, many people refer to it as the “theme from 2001”, not realizing it was written 72 years previous. The epic scale tones and iconic timpony beats symbolize the film as much as any other aspect of Kubrick’s piece de resistance.

2001 is a film which usually works in silence, with very little dialogue an many parts where a simple sound effect like an astronaut breathing is all that is heard. But when music is used, it is used to the highest dramatic effect. This incredible tune is used various times throughout the movie and bookshelves the opening and closing scenes. It is very primal in evoking the emotions of the audience, much like the film itself.

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6 Responses to “The Ten Most Memorable Uses of Songs at the Movies”

  1. Good list. I’d add Puttin on the Ritz (Young Frankenstein), Where Is My Mind (Fight Club), and The Banana Boat Song (Beetlejuice).

  2. I am am MAJOR lover of music in movies! (mainly I enjoy instrumental scores), but occasionally I pay attention to other songs. So, I am very glad for this post!

    I’d like to add New Slang by The Shins (2001) that was used in Garden State (2004). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ziwr4f5eR0M

    and Beggin’ by Madcon that was used in the Jennifer Aniston bikini scene in Just Go With It. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX7IH4qCeag&feature=related

    haha. Love this post!

    Oh, and btw, Nice use of the Sunburn theme for your page. I checked it out and thought I had clicked on mine again! 😀

  3. Great list! Others unforgettable: Stand by Me (Stand by Me), Eye of the Tiger (Rocky), Born to be Wild (Easy Rider)

    • Good choices, however I believe Eye of teh Tiger was written for the movie, which would disqualify it for my list.

      • You’re right and thank God it was written for the movie otherwise Stallone would use Another One Bites the Dust which is a good song btw but wouldn’t fit like Eye of the Tiger.


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