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8 Songs That Got Owned By Movie Scenes

May 3, 2010

It's Hip to be Square

Is there anyone left on earth who can still listen to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and find themselves steeped in nostalgia for the good old 80′s?  Those of us who are regular consumers of pop culture have had our memory of the song tampered with, to say the least.  First, The Soprano’s used the song in the final scene of the series finale.  Then an unknown show called Glee featured the song in their pilot episode, and the rest is history.  Will you ever be able to listen to that song without thinking of the Glee version?  Probably not.

After I saw Kick-Ass, I felt the same way about Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.”  Sometimes after you see a song featured in a movie, you will never be able to listen to it the same way again.  I find musical selection in movies fascinating-it can make or break a scene or an entire movie, and a strong movie scene will change the way you think about that song forever.

Here is a list of some of my favorite examples. Not necessarily great songs, but they stuck with me after the movie.

The song: “Baba O’Riley” by The Who.
The movie: Summer of Sam
The scene: Summer of Sam takes place in New York, 1977, the same year that the real-life serial killer “Son of Sam” was terrorizing the city. The film came out in 1999, but it seems even more timely today, because it examines what happens to the city when everyone becomes suspicious to one another, and innocent men are wrongly targeted by vigilantes. Adrien Brody plays a confused twenty-something who can’t quite seem to figure out who he is, and this montage so perfectly captures his angst and confusion that it gives me the chills. I already loved the song, this just gave me a new appreciation for it.

The song: “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger
The movie: Boogie Nights
The scene: If you’ve seen Boogie Nights (1997), you are nodding your head right now, you know exactly which one I am referring to. The drug deal scene. This is one of the best ten minutes in film history. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the scene is absolutely perfect. Mark Wahlberg plays Dirk Diggler, a porn star who falls from grace and resorts to this drug deal gone horribly wrong to make money. The scene also features “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, and ends with Nena’s “99 Red Balloons”, but it is “Sister Christian” that has always stuck with me. The firecrackers were genius, and on the big screen, this scene was unbearably tense. Thomas Jane and John C. Reilly also appear in the scene. The embed is a little wonky, but stick with it if you have never seen it, you’re in for a treat.

The song: “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus
The movie: The Hunger
The scene: The opening sequence of the 1983 vampire movie. Since I was only 14 when I saw it, the movie left quite an impression on me. I was just discovering music, and as soon as I finished the VHS of this movie I jumped on my bike and rode to Recycled Sounds, our local record store. I snatched up a Bauhaus album, and a tiny goth seed was planted. This movie influenced my original musical tastes, and set me up for a lifetime love of Ministry, NIN, The Sisters of Mercy, and countless others. The Hunger starred David Bowie, Catherine Denueve, Susan Sarandon, and Willem Dafoe.

The song: “Closer” (remix) by NIN
The movie: Se7en
The Scene:  The opening credits. These blew my mind. Se7en came out in 1995, and it spawned a generation of cheap impersonators in upcoming years (Taking Lives, anyone?) The film was horrifying and shocking to watch, and the opening credits let you know that you were in for something new entirely.

The Song: “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett
The Movie: Kick-Ass
The Scene: Toward the end of Kick-Ass, a little hellion assassin called “Hit Girl” takes out a whole slew of menacing mobsters, all by herself. It brings to mind Uma Thurman’s bride from the Kill Bill movies, but this banshee is only 11. I could watch the final action sequence on a loop for days, I really adored it. Note: the video is not from the movie, just the original Joan Jett song.

The song: “You Make My Dreams”
The movie: 500 Days of Summer
The scene: The dance sequence. I’ve heard rumors that some people didn’t care for this jaunty little number performed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and those people are dead to me. I thought this was breath of fresh air and it made me nostalgic for my old Hall and Oates 8 tracks. The dude just got laid by the girl of his dreams, and while most of us don’t go around dancing, don’t tell me you’ve never thought about it.    My face almost cracked from smiling when I saw this in the theater.

The song: “Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News.
The movie: American Psycho
The scene: Patrick Bateman goes off on one of his musical dialogues prior to offing a business adversary. It is gruesome, but funny as hell. You can watch the scene here. As a special treat to all you American Psycho fans, here is a link to the “business card” scene.  It has nothing to do with music, but it is hilarious.

The song: “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
The movie: The Devil’s Rejects
The scene: The very last scene of the movie, in which we see the murderous “reject” clan pull a Thelma and Louise moment. Rather than risk imprisonment, they opt to go down with guns blazing. It was oddly touching, and for the first time in my life I bought a Lynyrd Skynyrd CD. This was a great ending with the perfect song accompanying it.

Okay, time to fess up. What songs are on your list?


14 Responses to “ 8 Songs That Got Owned By Movie Scenes ”

  1. Pancake on May 4, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Excellent post Shannon! Near and Dear. I love Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming, the song Bad Reputation by Freedy Johnson plays during the end credits scene – and while I wouldn’t otherwise have an emotional response to the song, it just kills me because of how it is used.

  2. Katie on May 4, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Tiny Dancer in Almost Famous and Stuck in the Middle With You from Reservoir Dogs.

  3. ChristianH on May 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I’m stunned to not see “Bohemian Rhapsody” with Wayne’s World and “Tiny Dancer” with Almost Famous on here.

  4. LowSlash on May 4, 2010 at 11:32 am

    For me, “Bad Reputation” will always bring Freaks & Geeks to mind.

  5. Dudley on May 4, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Yay to another fan of Kicking and Screaming and Freedy Johnston playing over the end credits! I love that song and its relationship to the movie.

    Other songs for me include Tracks of My Tears from Platoon and In Dreams from Blue Velvet.

    And I hate to be a stickler, but the song is titled Baba O’Riley, not Teenage Wasteland.

  6. FabMax on May 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

    “Teenage Wasteland”? That is “Baba O’Riley”, you heathens!

  7. Shannon on May 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    @ Dudley and FabMax,
    I’m no heathen, just not well-versed in the history of the song, I’m afraid. Thanks and it has been corrected, although I never knew this.

  8. Kitty on May 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I know it’s a TV show, not a movie, but I can’t hear “Breathe Me” by Sia and not think of the last 5 minutes of the Six Feet Under finale.

  9. greenpeas on May 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    “Devil Town” by Bright Eyes playing over the homecoming parade of the Dillon Panthers in the first season finale of Friday Night Lights. Rarely has a song been used so perfectly and I cannot hear that song without envisioning that scene.

  10. Lindsay on May 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Where is My Mind by the Pixies at the end of Fight Club.

  11. grace b on May 4, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Too bad you didn’t have any scenes from The Royal Tenenbaums, that and anything by Cameron Crowe. He and Wes Anderson really know how to pair music with film. Jim Jarmusch too.

  12. Mr. Smarty Pants on May 5, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Good call on Cameron Crow. I thought for sure “In Your Eyes” would be on there, from “Say Anything”

    Or “In a Gada da Vida”, from “Manhunter”

    Or “Song 2″ from “Starship Troopers”

    “One Tree Hill” from “State of Grace”

    “Wake Up” (Rage Against the Machine) from “The Matrix”–Wpz4NAHtY

    “Spybreak” (Propellerheads), also from “The Matrix”

    Great Idea for a post!

  13. Shannon on May 5, 2010 at 10:34 am

    All these great suggestions…it’s like thinking of the perfect smart-ass comment to say to somebody-two hours later. Why couldn’t I think of some of these at 1 AM?

  14. Julia Mitchell on June 30, 2010 at 10:59 am

    i used to watch One Tree Hill on my girlfriends house. great tv series..~,