Friday, 24 February 2012

The Other 50 Best Uses of Songs In Movies (Part 1 of 5)

A week or three ago, Time Out New York posted their list of the 50 Best Uses of Songs In Movies. I absolutely loved it, but couldn't stop thinking of so many other favourite soundtrack moments that didn't make the list. So, I thought, why not pick up where Time Out left off, and do another list of 50? Even after that, I'm sure we will be missing a lot. I've stuck to their formula, but split the list into 5 parts otherwise I will never get round to doing it. Secondly, I have not attempted to rank the songs against one another - it is impossible. They will come through in random groups of 10, each of which lists songs in no particular order. I have tried to put a good variety of songs in each set of 10, but do realise that this is very much a personal list, and so trends may be obvious. Enjoy, and feel free to comment on any songs I may have missed out! Hit the jump...
1. Layer Cake (2004, Matthew Vaughn)
Ordinary World by Duran Duran

Layer Cake wasn't the greatest film in the world, but in his debut, Matthew Vaughn made it very clear that he knew exactly what he was doing when it comes to music and film. In this iconic scene, he puts Duran Duran's Ordinary World to spectacularly destructive use. I know many directors have been doing the whole contrasting of music and violence thing, but I love it every time. In the 70s and 80s, films used to get banned if the music appeared to condone what was happening on screen. It's true though, the impact of a violent sequence is greatly enhanced when some chilled music is playing in the background. It gives you that funny feeling in your tummy...

2. The Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms performed by Robert Mitchum & Lillian Gish

I'm not a particularly religious man, but my favourite hymn of all time is Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. It formed the basis of the beautiful True Grit (2010) soundtrack, and when it came up during The Night of the Hunter, I almost went through the roof. What a brilliant and creepy scene. Oh, and the film itself, from 1955, blew me away.

3. Tell No One (2006, Guillaume Canet)
For Your Precious Love by Otis Redding

Every time I get to the next number I want to write "I love this movie". I know I can't do that every time, but it's true. Most of the movies on this list are very special to me, which is probably why I liked the selected soundtrack moments so much in the first place. This particular French film, which I love (in case I forgot to mention it), is criminally under seen. It also features some really effective use of popular, English, music. The scene I have chosen is one of the saddest on the list, and has the ability to bring forth tears every time I watch it. It certainly isn't the only one though: honourable mention should go to U2's With Or Without You (I couldn't find a clip).

4. Man On Fire (2004, Tony Scott)
Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt

I don't understand why this film isn't more popular. People probably won't even remember it, but one of my absolute favourite aspects of the film was the Linda Ronstadt's version of Blue Bayou. In particular, there is a very short moment with Dakota Fanning diving onto the bed with the song in the background - pure joy! Here is a link to the clip (it cannot be embedded). Only the first part is relevant.

5. Run Lola Run (1998, Tom Tykwer)
What A Difference A Day Makes by Dinah Washington

Run Lola Run is a movie that is entirely to blame for me failing one of my subjects at varsity. I had a choice - study, or watch the movie. I chose the latter, and never regretted it. Apart from the awesome music throughout, great cinematography and rapid pacing, this scene in particular stood out above the rest. If you haven't seen this film, do it now!

6. Death Proof (2007, Quentin Tarantino)
Hold Tight by Dave Dee, Dozy Beaky, Mick & Tich

Every song in a Tarantino movie is worthy of this list. I mean, he is the king of this kind of thing after all. The original Time Out list contains a few of his choices already, and I will try to limit them as far as possible here, but you can be sure that his name will appear on my list a few more times. The first song I picked formed the build-up to one of the most horrific car accident scenes ever. In the words of Nina Sayers, it was perfect.

7. Adaptation (2002, Spike Jonze)
Happy Together by The Turtles

On it's own, this little soundtrack moment would not make the list, but seen in the context of Spike Jonze's zany and brilliant Adaption, choosing Happy Together by The Turtles to play in the movie's closing scene was a stroke of genius. When the song starts, you realise the movie is over, the full realisation of what you have just witnessed starts to set in, and then the mental gymnastics begin...

8. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003, McG)
Sleep Now In The Fire by Rage Against The Machine

People didn't have much love for the second Charlie's Angels movie (it scores like 4.3 on IMDB). I did though. In particular, I remember getting a little too excited when, in this teaser trailer, The Hives' rocking song "Get Free" played to what looked to be a seriously epic action sequence. Little did I know, when that very sequence came along in the actual movie, McG would go even further by using one of my favourite songs of all time...

9. Kick-Ass (2010, Matthew Vaughn)
Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (A Few Dollars More) by Ennio Morricone

Some movies, like Kick-Ass, have too many good songs. It's not fair to the movie if I pick only one song, but it's not fair to the rest of the candidates if I pick all of them. I had to choose the latter though, and my favourite of the lost must be "A Few Dollars More" by Spaghetti Western legend Ennio Morricone, which introduced us to that unforgettable final scene. Honourable mentions should go to  "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Elvis Presley (the jet pack scene), "Banana Splits" by The Dickies (the scene where you realise Hit Girl is not to be fucked with) and "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (which immediately follows the chosen song). Here is a clip from the film (I cannot embed this one either) using the Morricone music only, the actual movie movies into the last mentioned song when Hit Girl starts Kicking Ass...

10. Snatch (2000, Guy Ritchie)
Disco Science by Mirwais

As with Kick-Ass, Guy Ritchie's Snatch simply has too many songs to choose from. Did you know that Snatch was produced by Matthew Vaugn, the director of both Layer Cake and Kick-Ass? It's obviously where the genius soundtrack choices came from isn't it? They certainly didn't come from anyone married to Madonna! There is one particular soundtrack choice that rises above the rest. In fact, because of this scene, "Disco Science" by Mirwais made it onto a mix CD we used on a road trip back in 2003, and that damn CD is still in my car!

That's all for now. The next 10 will be up soon. Don't forget, suggestions welcome - there are a few spaces open still!

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