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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What are the best pop songs FROM movies?

Help me create a new playlist on my iPod:

What are the best pop songs from movies?

I’m thinking about songs that were written specifically for particular films that went on to become at least moderate hits, such as Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme or Celion Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic.
I’ll also take songs that weren’t written specifically for particular movies but were so popularized by those movies that they are inexorably associated with them, like maybe “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds (which I’m pretty sure was not written specifically for use in The Breakfast Club but is now inescapably linked to it.) I’m not looking for older hits that show up in movies, like the entire soundtrack of Forrest Gump.

Whaddaya got for me?

FYI: I’m not thinking about songs that mention particular movies or just a love of the movies in general. For that, see yesterday’s QOTD.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel, which my Gen-X brain inexorably associates with say anything, even though the song existed quite comfortably before John Cusack lifted that boombox over his head.

  • Lisa

    I always liked all across the universe from the end of pleasantville was that version of the song done for the film?

  • CoriAnn

    Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows (from Shrek 2)–got them an Oscar nod and it’s just an irresistibly happy song.

  • Jim Mann

    Some of the big songs from Bond movies like Live and Let Die and Goldfinger come to mind.

    Jim

  • Dandnn

    “Dont You Forget About Me” was written for another movie and then used in “The Breakfast Club”, according to Wikipedia.

    I’d also go with “Pretty In Pink”, by the Psychdelic Furs, an amazing song, that existed before the movie and eventually became it’s theme song.

  • Jackie

    Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, Magical Mystery Tour, and Let it Be.

    Why yes, I am a Beatles fan.

  • Bluejay

    All the songs from “Once.” If they weren’t hits, they deserved to be.

    Also, everything from “Singing in the Rain.”

    And “Purple Rain.”

  • TMS

    “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer has to be in the list for the cheesiness which is “Cocktail”.

  • “Let Go” by Frou Frou from Garden State.

  • J.

    Also, “New Slang” by the Shins from Garden State — it was a few years old by the time the movie came out, but I almost never hear anyone talking about the song without mentioning its appearance in the film.

  • Victor Plenty

    These may be more niche hits than pop hits, but here are a few that come to mind:

    1. The electronica classic “Halcyon & On & On” by Orbital is very closely linked to the movie Hackers, as is “Voodoo People” by Prodigy.

    2. KMFDM’s “Mortal Kombat” is by no means a classic of any kind, but is arguably the most defensible artistic product from the movie made about the video game of the same name.

    3. “Spybreak!” by Propellerheads will, for most listeners I’ve encountered, instantly bring to mind the iconic lobby gunfight scene from The Matrix.

    4. “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” by Tomoyasu Hotei is inextricably linked with Kill Bill Vol. 1, despite being used to promote numerous other things after that movie came out.

    5. I have it on good authority that young folks of a certain age group will think you’re playing the soundtrack from the live action Scooby Doo if they overhear you listening to “Man With the Hex” by The Atomic Fireballs, a band which really deserves a far better fate than being linked to that unfortunate movie.

    6. To my ear, the theme music and especially the music over the end credits of The Incredibles was essentially stolen from a track called “The Planet Plan” by the Japanese acid jazz band United Future Organization. (This may be getting a bit more obscure than what you’re looking for, but it’s such a fun track I had to include it.)

  • Chuck

    Sometimes music that falls off the radar when standing on it’s own becomes brilliant when attached to video. These are not all hits, but are powerful when combined with the images.

    1. Opening of Pulp fiction, (Pumpkin and Honey bunny) “…or I’ll execute every last %^&*&^%%$&$ one of you…” Miserlou (played by Dick Dale)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DB-k5r1XjWI

    2. End of “LA Story” w/ Steve Martin Enya Exile. Powerful mood maker when taken along with the video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOGGmhmp5ds
    (starting at about 2:20 in this clip)

    3. Risky Buisness, toward end, “Love on a real train”, Tangerine Dream again should be taken with the video in mind.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KuNH3C36QE

    4. “All along the Watch Tower” and “Kara Remembers” Bear McCreary.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka_sHy9cVH0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfknoVuHzDI&annotation_id=annotation_622348&feature=iv

    5. The Doctors Theme
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k4rwCi-eB4

  • Lisa

    loving your work, Chuck

    and yeah fallin softly is beautiful too

  • I second everything from Once and Across the Universe by Fiona Apple.

    I submit the song from Snakes On A Plane as well as the rest of the album which is one of my favorite all time albums. The funny thing is, most of the songs are remixes and I like neither the originals or most of the bands, but the album as a whole is awesome…

  • iakobos

    We Don’t Need Another Hero – Tina Turner (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome)

    Power Of Love – Huey Lewis (Back to The Future)

  • Jean

    “Super Freak” will be forever associated with “Little Miss Sunshine” in my mind and makes me smile every time I hear it.

  • And Joe Cocker’s version of “You Can Keep Your Hat On” will forever be associated with Nine 1/2 Weeks, and thanks to the female friend who introduced me to that song, I’ll smile every time I hear that tune as well.

    And thanks to the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski, it’s almost impossible to hear Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’s “Just Dropped in (To See What Condition My Condition Is In” without thinking of Busby Berkeley. And Julianne Moore…

  • Chuck

    The Commitments

  • Jester

    “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel, which I now can’t even think about, much less listen to, without thinking about my ear.

  • David

    “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies, at the tail end of Fight Club, falls right in with “Spybreak!” (as mentioned previously). I must have something for songs featured in skyscraper scenes in violent movies.

  • KLW

    It Might Be You (Theme From Tootsie)
    (Written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Dave Grusin)
    Performed by Stephen Bishop

    Just searched the title online. Didn’t realize the Bergman’s wrote the lyrics, but they’re flawless, so it makes sense.

  • Bluejay

    I think the soundtrack to “Cowboy Bebop” (both the TV series and the film) is uniformly outstanding: jazz, blues, pop, spaghetti-western music, and a dozen other styles in a crazy eclectic mix. The composer, Yoko Kanno, is a musical genius and sort of the A.R. Rahman of the anime world.

    Here’s the movie’s opening song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_jDfy2Q6sk

    And the closer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3ZLXQK1Hr8

  • MARYANN

    Best music, lately in soundtracks: got to be LAURAL
    CANYON, THAT ROCKSTAR GUY, JUST MELTS THE ICE AROUND
    MY MUSIC CRITIC’S HEART.TOO BAD BATEMAN KEPT SHOWING UP TO PUT ME ASLEEP,BORRRINNNNGGG( HE WAS A GREAT CHILD ACTOR,WASNT HE????WHAT HAPPENED
    BUT I’D SEE THE STUDIOS SESSIONS OVER AND OVER ANYWAY. DIDN’T THAT ACTOR PLAY,… “BOY”??IN COCO CHANEL (THE GOOD ONE) ALLESANDRO,COMES
    TO MIND, BUT I THINK I HAVE IT SPELT X. I MIGHT JUST
    SE SOME MORE OF HIS MOVIES, HIS SONGS WERE GREAT BUT
    ALL THE TRACKS WERE FINE,I’VE LOOKED IN A COUPLE SHOPS
    BUT ITS BEEN SOLD OUT.CHECK IT OUT, I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. YOUR BLOG MAKES THE TOP OF MY LIST AS
    WELL.GREAT STUFF,MARYANN
    A LITTLE CANADIAN FAN

  • Boingo

    I never thought Will Ferrell could sing (still don’t).
    But in”Stranger Than Fiction,” the scene set up his
    singing (cutting to original) of “Whole Wide World,”
    by Wreckless Eric,beautifully. It was an early Punk
    anthem that I had to go back and re-listen to (missed the Punk Era).

  • Boingo

    Romantic/sexy scene with Will Ferrel & Maggie what’s-her-name: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jS7AD-lqwA

  • amanohyo

    I have a weakness for 80’s cheese, so I’ll add:

    Queen – Who Wants to Live Forever – best movie ever made
    Limahl –Neverending Story
    Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only
    Cyndi Lauper – Goonies R Good Enough

    Not made for the movie, but I still like em’:

    Modern English – Melt With You – Valley Girl
    Weird Al – Dare to be Stupid – Transformers: The Movie

    Mmmm, delicious aged cheese.

  • sm

    PoP! Goes My Heart from Music and Lyrics — also probably the best music video made for a movie :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGLXpIojJkg

  • amanohyo

    Keeping with the 80’s theme, it seemed like every girl I knew back then talked fondly (and with due reverence) of the bulge . I actually like the movie (and song) now more than I did as a kid.

  • JoshDM

    I’m winning this one.

    THE TOUCH by Stan Bush

    Featured in Transformers : The Movie annd later sung by Dirk Diggler / Markey Mark in Boogie Nights.

  • LaSargenta

    My two pop favorites, one written for its movie, the other not:

    “Call Me” by Blondie from American Gigilo
    “Wicked Love” by Chris Issak from Leaving Las Vegas (I think)

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