Top 15 Songs Redefined by their Films, Part I
Music is, as you probably know, a powerful tool for a filmmaker hoping to add emotion and poignancy to a film. It's a delicate balance to maintain: a poorly chosen song can ring false and fall flat, but sometimes, just sometimes, the planets align, and even a song long burned into the collective societal conscience can find new life, or even find itself a larger legacy in popular culture.
The songs in these films forever altered our perception of them, and in most cases it's virtually impossible to hear the songs and not think of the scenes they were featured in.
With that in mind, here are the top 15 songs whose appearance in a film forever changed it.
"Don't Stop Believin'," by Journey, "Monster" (2003)
Sure, "The Sopranos" stole this song out from under "Monster) a couple of years later, but director Patty Jenkins turned this 80s power ballad into a stirring anthem that represents the one source of positivity in the whole broken life of serial killer Ailenn Wuornos (Charlize Theron).
"Fight the Power," by Public Enemy, "Do the Right Thing" (1989)
The perfect call to action from one of the quintessential films of racial unrest. In closing Spike Lee's classic 1989 film, "Fight the Power" simulateously becomes both a plea and a command to battle social injustice and to stand up for your own rights.
"Tiny Dancer," by Elton John, Almost Famous, (2000)
Kate Hudson's last good movie, featuring one of several classic moments, but none larger than this spontaneous break into song, as William Miller (Patrick Fugit) learns that the life of a rock star is indeed all glamour and glitz, so much so that it often lacks some basic human needs.
"Wise Up," Aimee Mann, Magnolia (1999)
Aimee Mann's contributions to Paul Thomas Anderson's sprawling masterpiece of a film in many ways made the film, but none more than this interlude, where the movie comes to a screeching halt so that the cast, all in different locations and doing different things, can sing along to the film's soundtrack. And it's note perfect, striking the perfect balance of heartbreaking and silly, just like Anderson's film.
"My Sharona," The Knack, "Reality Bites" (1994)
No film has captured the post-capitalist angst of the 1990s perhaps like "Reality Bites," and this is that film's most memorable scene, as Jeaneane Garafalo, Steve Zahn, Winona Ryder, and Ethan Hawke jam to The Knack while at a convenience store while the crusty old codger behind the counter looks on, obviously not impressed.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part II of the countdown!