Top 10 Songs that Gained Popularity Through their Use in Movies.
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Jim Beviglia.
Some of the most iconic songs in popular music history only reached that level after they were showcased in memorable ways in motion pictures. Join http://www.WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 songs that gained popularity through their use in movies. For this list, the songs chosen must have been already released prior to the movie in which they were included and not have been written specifically for the motion picture.
Special thanks to our users arrow8, fitzmartint, Andrew A. Dennison and Chester Vargas, Douglas Sommer for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Jim Beviglia.
Top 10 Songs that Gained Popularity in Movies
Some of the most iconic songs in popular music history only reached that level after they were showcased in memorable ways in motion pictures. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 songs that gained popularity through their use in movies.
For this list, the songs chosen must have been already released prior to the movie in which they were included and not have been written specifically for the motion picture. They were chosen based on a mix of song quality and overall recognition, and they must have gained more exposure or popularity through their inclusion in the film - regardless of their initial success or lack thereof.
#10: “Where Is My Mind?” by Pixies
“Fight Club” (1999)
The title question from this alt rock classic is perfectly suited to Edward Norton’s addled character in “Fight Club.” As he tries to make sense of his life with the help of Brad Pitt’s psychotic instigator, Norton’s inner monologue might sound a lot like the lyrics to the song. With that in mind, “Fight Club” director David Fincher used this song to score the film’s unforgettably explosive finale and it’s been associated with it ever since.
#9: “Mad World” by Michael Andrews feat. Gary Jules
“Donnie Darko” (2001)
A song was needed to sum up the emotional turmoil amidst all the weirdness of one of the most bizarre yet enduring cult movies ever. The makers of “Donnie Darko” found that song in “Mad World.” While it was a top 40 hit in the ‘80s by Tears for Fears, this new version featuring stripped-down, ambient music and vocals by Gary Jules proved to be just the right kind of haunting song to tie the film’s dark themes together. It also topped bested the original’s UK chart position by going to number one.
#8: “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys
“The Departed” (2006)
You’d never know it from hearing the Dropkick Murphy’s version that “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” was written by folk troubadour Woody Guthrie. The band gives it a rowdy, rocking Irish spin, and director Martin Scorsese correctly realized that the song would make a good anthem for his movie “The Departed.” After all, the movie’s story of crooked cops and organized crime is set in Boston and has the same sense of violent energy as this Celtic punk track, which became the band’s most successful song to that point.
#7: “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John
“Almost Famous” (2000)
When director Cameron Crowe needed a song to serve as the emotional centerpiece to his film about his time as a teenage Rolling Stone reporter, he looked to Elton John’s soaring ballad. The song inspires a group sing-along on a bus that heals a lot of festering wounds. Sir Elton’s powerful reading of Bernie Taupin’s lyrics manages to sum up both the thrill and heartbreak of the rock and roll life. Considered a “non-starter” that only initially charted within the American pop charts top 50, “Tiny Dancer” eventually found its way into pop culture and got an extra boost through this flick.
#6: “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger
“Risky Business” (1983)
Bob Seger’s boogeying rock song didn’t get too much attention other than some rock radio airplay when it was released on his 1978 album Stranger In Town and then as a single the following year. Yet when it served as the soundtrack to Tom Cruise’s famous dance in dress shirt and underwear in “Risky Business,” it became a belated sensation. It’s fitting that the song was lip-synched by a teenage character, since it is now an anthem for all those who miss the music of their youth.
#5: “The End” by The Doors
“Apocalypse Now” (1979)
Francis Ford Coppola’s meditation on the horrors of war “Apocalypse Now” needed a song that dripped chaos and menace and was era-appropriate. He certainly made the right choice when he picked The Doors’ harrowing “The End.” In the track, The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison slowly transforms from a coiled symbol of danger to a nightmarish screaming avenger, and this is much like the transformation of Martin Sheen’s character in the film.
#4: “Misirlou” by Dick Dale & His Del-Tones
“Pulp Fiction” (1994)
Director Quentin Tarantino has always had a knack for finding relatively obscure songs and turning them into perfectly placed soundtrack items. This surf-rock classic from Dick Dale is in many ways the unofficial theme of Tarantino’s masterpiece “Pulp Fiction.” Originally a Greek folk tune, this version is well suited for the flick considering it blends frenzied guitar, moody rhythms, and sly horns into a wild stew. It never slows down and grabs your attention, much like the movie itself.
#3: “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
This is the ultimate example of how the whole vibe surrounding a song can change through its inclusion in a movie. When it appeared on the radio in 1972, the song came off as an amiable piece of bluesy pop with endearingly frazzled lyrics that was also a platinum-selling single for the band. When Quentin Tarantino had Michael Madsen sing and dance along with it as he prepared to slice off an ear in his gangster classic “Reservoir Dogs,” it became a movie song for the ages and its popularity wasn’t only cemented but increased.
#2: “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers
Who knew that pottery could be so sexy? In the supernatural romance “Ghost,” Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze’s unbreakable connection is symbolized by this Righteous Brothers tearjerker. As singer Bobby Hatfield hits the towering heights of the melody, Moore and Swayze’s undeniable chemistry is as evident as the mess they’re making with that pottery wheel. The scene turned an already-classic ballad into the ultimate manifestation of undying love, as well as a second time resident of the Billboard charts 25 years after its original release.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
“Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)
- “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers
“Benny & Joon” (1993)
- “Shook Ones (Part II)” by Mobb Deep
“8 Mile” (2002)
- “Mamma Mia” by ABBA
“Mamma Mia!” (2008)
- “Somebody to Love” by Jim Carrey
“The Cable Guy” (1996)
#1: “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
“Wayne’s World” (2002)
So you’re driving around with your buddies and need to hear a song on the radio to which everyone can sing along? As Mike Myers and Dana Carvey proved in “Wayne’s World,” the comedy classic they created from their “Saturday Night Live” sketches, it has to be “Bohemian Rhapsody.” All of those overlapping Freddie Mercury overdubs mean that everyone will get a part, even if they have no idea what the words mean. And yes, the song was a hit for Queen in the mid-‘70s, but there’s no question it wouldn’t still be as popular as it is today without this early ‘90s movie appearance.
Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite song made popular by a movie? For more entertaining Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.