Top 15 Songs Redefined by their Films, Part III
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.
"Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen, "Wayne's World" (1992)
One of the seminal slacker movies of the 90s kicks off right with Chicagoans Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) and their buds in the back of Garth's classic AMC Gremlin, jam to some Queen, thus resurrecting the song for a legion of new fans of the 70s arena rock gods.
"Sister Christian"/"Jesse's Girl," Night Ranger/Rick Springfield, "Boogie Nights" (1997)
In P.T. Anderson's first classic, porn stars Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) and Chest Rockwell (John C. Reilly) were nervous enough when Dirk's friend Todd (Thomas Jane) has the idea of selling some fake cocaine to a drug dealer (Alfred Molina).
The tension begins when Todd brandishes a gun before they go in, and the trio walks right into a veritable funhouse of horrors for the amateur criminal. Large bodyguards with automatic weapons, a rambling, unhinged dealer who plays Russian Roulette with himself, and a weird Asian man setting off firecrackers inside the house at random intervals. All the while, Night Ranger, then Rick Springfield, taunt Dirk, who is quickly reaching his breaking point after years of porn, cocaine and other forms of self-abuse.
The breaking point is when Todd decides he wants something more.
"Stuck in the Middle With You," Stealers Wheel, "Reservoir Dogs" (1992)
The infamous "ear slicing" scene that brought Quentin Tarantino's work to the mainstream every bit as much as anything from "Pulp Fiction," this scene from "Reservoir Dogs" sees Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) at his sadistic best, tying up a cop he captured from the scene of the botched bank heist, and coldly letting him know that he was about to be tortured, because "it's amusing to me to torture a cop." he proceeds to turn on the K-Billy Sounds of the 70s, which happens to be featuring the classic from Stealer's Wheel.
"Chopsticks," Euphemia Allen, "Big" (1988)
Bar none one of the classic scenes in film history, Tom Hanks' Josh Baskin, a literal manchild, finds a job in the city (creating new toys, no less) and finds himself bonding with the boss (Robert Loggia), all but guaranteeing him a promotion in this scene, where he and Loggia duet on a giant toy piano as a throng of breathless onlookers gather.
"Tequila," The Champs, "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" (1985)
In the bizarre, grotesquely witty comedy, Pee Wee (Paul Reubens) enters a biker bar to make a phone call. After yelling at the patrons, then committing the ultimate sin (knocking over their rides), the angry mob drag poor Pee Wee back into the bar, wondering how they're going to kill him. Asking for a last request, Pee Wee hits the jukebox for this old chestnut and breaks out a dance so completely off the wall that the bikers not only decide not to kill him, but make him an honorary member of the gang.