“To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.” – Quentin Tarantino.
Indeed, music and film are very close art forms that naturally fit together to produce great emotional effect in the movie theatre room. Music adds to the overall atmosphere and tone of a sequence, gives it its special touch and renders a scene unforgettable; music can transport a film’s audience to whole other dimensions. That’s something that’s quite amazing. Here we honor these unique moments and have compiled some all-time classic tunes that have and will always be associated to a particular scene in a particular film.
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“Music is a big factor in helping the illusion of the film come to life. The same way music brings back different periods to our lives.” – Francis Ford Coppola.
1. The Graduate – Sound of Silence & Mrs Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel)
The “Sound of Silence” is, hands down, “one of folk pop’s most beautiful moments” – nobody in their right mind could contest that. Simon & Garfunkel made “The Graduate” the iconic film that it is today, but in 1967, it was director Mike Nichols that made Simon & Garfunkel the timeless duo that will always be remembered. Nichols brilliantly used several of their songs as the soundtrack to his chronicle of post-collegiate alienation. Mrs Robinson and Sound of Silence are two serious all-time hits placed in unprecedented manner in one serious Hollywood blockbuster – the hits come hand-in-hand. Curiously enough, Nichols originally used their most exceptional songs, including “Sound of Silence”, as placeholders to get the pacing right in certain parts of the film. I think we’re all indebted to Nichols for having finally come to his senses by realising that the songs were perfect where they were. “The Graduate” owns Simon & Garfunkel and Simon & Garfunkel own “The Graduate”.
2. Purple Rain – When Doves Cry & Purple Rain (Prince and the Revolutions)
The film “Purple Rain” is “an epic celebration of everything Rock & Roll.” Picture Prince in a film, surrounded by sex, religion, motorcycles, guitars, Lake Minnetonka and, oh yes, he’s wearing eyeliner. Set when Prince is on his historic creative streak while his heart aches with girl troubles, he’s bound to write a couple of hits like “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” because, you know, that’s just another day in the life of the Prince of pop. The two silver screen anthems frame the film in all their glory and, today, are recognised as all-time greats. The film’s grand finale blasts “Purple Rain” through the speakers as Prince rides off into the purple sunset – It’s a historic moment accompanied by one of the moodiest and most beautiful songs ever made. “When Doves Cry”, on the other hand, was the album’s first No1 single and is what propelled the album to sell 20 million copies.
3. Saturday Night Fever – Night Fever & Staying Alive (The Bee Gees)
Although a huge chunk of the music to the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever” came from Frank Stallone, it’s The Bee Gees that killed it! Oh, The Bee Gees – From “Staying Alive” to “Night Fever” to “More Than A Woman”, “Boogie Shoes” and to “How Deep Is Your Love”, the tunes on the “Saturday Night Fever” album can still turn a room upside down with disco fever. “Staying Alive” was a smash hit, mainly due to its “driving beat, funky guitar riff and falsetto” and, of course, its awesomness. When the Bee Gees were engaged to write some songs for the film’s soundtrack, they refused to call their song “Saturday Fever” to match the title of the movie because too many song titles contained the word “Saturday”. Producer Robert Stigwood eventually gave in and decided to rename the film “Saturday Night Fever” – I think the Bee Gee’s stubbornness did Stigwood a huge favour (it rings better!).
The double LP was the best-selling soundtrack in music history, selling over 15 million copies, before “The Bodyguard” stole the title. These songs defined an era, turned disco fever into an all-night occurrence, and left a legacy in the late 70’s disco ball culture. What’s more, the soundtrack to this film turned our beloved John Travolta into a hearthrobbing mega film star. Who can shake the image of the young and gorgeous Travolta suited-and-booted all in white whilst boogying the legendary dance move with one hand on one hip and the other pointing to the sky.
4. The Bodyguard – I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston)
Did you know that Dolly Parton originally wrote Whitney Houston’s outstanding song “I Will Always Love You”, released in 1992 on the soundtrack of “The Bodyguard”, in 1973? Houston’s smash hit cover reigned on Billboard Hot 100 for fourteen weeks and became her signature song – the vocal queen owned it!
5. Ghostbusters – Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.)
“Who you gonna call?… “GHOSTBUTERS!” – It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t know who they’re gonna call when strange things are happening in their neighbourhood. Although Ray Parker Jr.’s Academy-nominated them songs “Ghostbusters” isn’t the best song out there, it continues to haunt us and will always remain a classic, if not for its cultural relevance with film-nerds than for it’s ceaseless appearance at Halloween parties year after year. Its repetitive and really, really, really hard to forget.
6. Pulp Fiction – You Never Can Tell (Chuck Berry)
“No one reframes oldies so indelibly” like Quentin Tarantino. Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” has become a cult-like ritual. Nobody can think of “Pulp Fiction” without Chuck Berry luring in the background.
7. 8 Mile – Lose Yourself (Eminem)
Eminem’s signature track “8 Mile” is a great song that almost everyone under the age of 25 knows 70% of the lyrics to (or at least they pretend they do). It’s one of those songs we kids used to rap to in the school playground, pretending we were hip (which we were, ehemm). Inspired by true events in Eminem’s (Marshal Mathers) personal life and written on the “8 Mile” movie set about his fictional character B-Rabbit, the song ended up winning the Best Original Song Oscar and two Grammy Awards. Indeed, everyone loved the track – it’s powerful and hard-hitting lyrics, energised and aggressive instrumentation and Eminem’s anger fully encased the emotion of the movie. Perhaps the lyrics “mom’s spaghetti” also had something to do with the song’s great success. “8 Mile” is raw and carries a huge emotional load – it’s refreshing, I think that’s why we love it.
8. Batman Forever – Kiss From A Rose (Seal)
The “Batman Forever” soundtrack is filled with great songs. However, Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” is on a whole other level. The “haunting ballad” is soft, beautiful and touching – it’s by far Seal’s greatest.
9. Flashdance – What A Feeling (Irene Cara)
“What A Feeling” by Irene Cara became a classic after it featured in the timeless film “Flashdance”. The title track plays as Alex (Jennifer Beal) auditions for a dance conservatory board and dumbfounds them when the song switches from ballad into speedy pop. The song went on to win an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Even those who haven’t seen the film know the very moment in the film that is bound to Irene Cara’s hit, co-written by Giorgio Moroder.
10. Space Jam – I Believe I Can Fly (R. Kelly)
R Kelly’s hit song “I Believe I Can Fly” is a classic (that is not to be argued). No matter what your opinion is on R Kelly, the Looney Tunes soundtrack belongs to a whole generation of kids-now-turned-adults – that cannot be taken away from them. Warner Brothers + Michael Jordan + green screen + cartoons = genius. The film scored a home run at the box office and the soundtrack came in on par, including beats from Jay-Z, Coolio and Busta Rhymes. R Kelly, however, is our leading man.
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