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Top 10 Jukebox Movie Musicals of ALL TIME

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
You may have already known the musical acts, but these movies used their songs to perfection. For this we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Jukebox Movie Musicals. For this list, we’re taking a look at the best musicals that feature performances or routines set to songs by popular musicians, whether they were performing themselves or not. Also, if a movie is considered more of a biopic than a musical, we chose not to include it. We’ve included musicals like “Rock of Ages”, “Happy Feet”, “Purple Rain”, “Across the Universe” and more!

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Top 10 Jukebox Movie Musicals

You may have already known the artists, but these movies used their songs to perfection. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Jukebox Movie Musicals.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the best musicals featuring performances or routines set to songs by popular musicians, whether they were performing themselves or not. Also, if a movie is considered more of a biopic than a musical, they will not be included on this list.

#10: “Rock of Ages” (2012)

Based on the Broadway play of the same name, this musical follows a small-town girl and a city boy chasing their dreams and falling in love in L.A. in 1987. The moviefeatures a terrific ensemble cast with the likes of Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, and Tom Cruise. But more importantly, it embodies the style and lust for rock and roll during that time. Some of the bands given musical numbers include Bon Jovi, Poison, Def Leppard, and Journey. For anyone nostalgic for the glory days of glam rock, you can’t go wrong with this one.

#9: “Happy Feet” (2006)

Who would’ve thought the creator of “Mad Max” could give us something so delightful? This charming musical/comedy follows Mumble, a penguin who tap dances instead of singing like the rest of his kind. Since they sing in order to attract a mate, Mumble is viewed as an outcast. The film features a number of performances of love songs, such as “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Somebody to Love.” But there are also a ton of great dance numbers, and a lesson at the core of its story to always be yourself.

#8: “Purple Rain” (1984)

Though the plot may have been a bit dark for some critics, there’s no denying just how much of an impact its songs have had over the years. “Purple Rain” tells the story of a young man from an abusive household trying to make it as a musician. Prince himself came up with the concept while touring, and many of the songs outshine the film they come from. It features the talents of two other musical acts who would also release albums in 1984. However, the movie was created to showcase Prince’s talents, and with songs like “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and the titular “Purple Rain,” we think it more than succeeded.

#7: “Across the Universe” (2007)

The plot of this 2007 jukebox musical concerns the politically polarizing times of late 1960s America – and it’s all told through the mesmerizing lyrics of The Beatles. The film starts off with their more carefree tunes before slipping into their psychedelic tracks. Though it doesn’t feature what some would call a structured plot, it relies more on the songs to paint the picture. Some of the stand-outs include “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” and “I Am the Walrus.” The stunning visuals keep pace with the beautifully bizarre lyrics, making it an absolute feast for the eyes and ears.

#6: “Jersey Boys” (2014)

You may know their songs, but this musical based on the hit play told a story many may not have known about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. It recounts the difficult ascension of the pop/rock group from petty crime to superstardom in the 1960s. But, it was less a biopic of their lives and more of an experience through their music. It may not have been as well-received as the Broadway counterpart, but it absolutely nailed the musical numbers. With sequences set to classic tracks like “Sherry” and “Can't Take My Eyes Off You,” and with music by original member Bob Gaudio, it’s a companion piece worthy of your time.

#5: “Mamma Mia!” (2008)

A musical set to the songs of ABBA would have to be as much fun as the songs themselves. Luckily for fans, “Mamma Mia!” knocked it out of the park. Also based on a hit Broadway play, it tells the story of a soon-to-be-married young woman raised by a single mother. Unbeknownst to the mother, she invites three men from her past she thinks could be her father. Many of ABBA’s most popular songs are joyful, and the film uses them jubilantly alongside its sunny Greek setting. It may not have pleased everyone, but for fans of ABBA, it was a blast.

#4: “Yellow Submarine” (1968)

Throughout their meteoric rise into pop culture history, there were several well-received jukebox musicals made for the songs by The Beatles, including “A Hard Day’s Night”. But their most unique by far was the animated adventure into lunacy that was “Yellow Submarine.” The group didn’t provide their own speaking voices, but the songs that were chosen flawlessly accompanied the bizarre plot. Under the sea in Pepperland, the fab four were tasked with freeing the innocent civilians from the evil Blue Meanies with the power of music. Some of the best songs from their psychedelic phase were picked for the movie, with numbers like “Nowhere Man” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” being particular standouts.

#3: “Saturday Night Fever” (1977)

Though its stars don’t sing, the agile dance routines in this ‘70s classic are just as much fun to watch. The film focuses on the young Tony Manero as he uses dancing to escape from his normal life, which includes overly-critical parents and a dead-end job. Disco may not be the most popular genre of music around in the film, but its fun beats creatively clash with how dark the film gets. The soundtrack, provided largely by the Bee Gees, sets up a perfect backdrop for disco culture as well as the main character’s desires. It also helped make the genre more popular for a time, which is something most musicals can’t say.

#2: “Moulin Rouge!” (2001)

One of the most popular jukebox musical movies in recent memory is the story of forbidden love between a young poet and a cabaret actress. Taking place in 1899 and 1900, the film follows the two star-crossed lovers as they devise a plan to get her away from the wealthy Duke for whom she is promised. The film features a ton of songs from Nirvana, Madonna, David Bowie, and so many others. Many are blended beautifully within musical numbers to help convey the film’s message. What’s even better is that it was directed by Baz Luhrmann, who takes every opportunity to show off his signature visual flair.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Spice World” (1997)

“The Blues Brothers” (1980)

“Sing” (2016)

#1: “Singin' in the Rain” (1952)

You may be surprised to learn that one of the most beloved musicals of all time featured hardly any original songs. Most of them are compiled from previous MGM musicals courtesy of producer Arthur Freed. Though their respective musicals were well-liked, the legacy of “Singin’ in the Rain” would go on to outshine them all. The plot revolves around the imminent rise of sound in film, as a famous movie star falls in love with an up-and-comer. The film was able to turn its famous catalog of songs into show-stopping numbers, each of which is better than the last. It’s no wonder all of its songs are permanently linked to this movie.

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