Many of the greatest films
in history have outstanding musical soundtracks. It can be a special moment when music and film come together to produce a memorable movie scene.I have collected a list of 25 great soundtrack singles and movie moments.Each of these songs made a strong contribution to the overall success of the movies they represent.I have not listed any singles used on my previous article of the 20 greatest selling albums in music history,
including famous movie hits by Celine Dion, the Bee Gees, and Whitney Houston.
Adventures in Babysitting
is a 1987 American comedy film directed by Chris Columbus, and starring Elisabeth Shue.The movie
is also known as A Night on the Town in certain countries.The film tells the story of Chris Parker,
who volunteers to babysit for the Anderson children after her boyfriend cancels their anniversary date.The
film has a good soundtrack with some memorable music scenes, including the Babysitter Blues and the movie’s
opening scene featuring The Crystals Then He Kissed Me.
Shue gives a memorable performance in the opening clip. Teenagers all over the world can relate to the song and Shue’s
dance mix. Then He Kissed Me is one of The Crystals most remembered songs.In the United States
the single peaked at #6 and in the United Kingdom it reached #2.A remake of Adventures in Babysitting
is scheduled for release in 2010.
24. Alanis Morissette
of Angels (1998)
City of Angels is
an English language romance film directed by Brad Silberling. The film stars Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.The
story follows Seth, who is one of many Angels that watches over and protects humans in unseen ways. The
movie portrays angels in a somewhat traditional role without referencing a specific faith.City of
Angels earned almost $200 million at the worldwide box office.
The City of Angels soundtrack reached number one on the U.S. chart.It was the seventh-best-selling
album of 1998 in the U.S.The record spawned two hit singles.The Goo Goo Dolls'
Iris and Alanis Morissette's Uninvited. Uninvited was Morissette's first recording since her successful debut Jagged Little Pill.The song reached the top of the U.S. Mainstream chart. In October 2007,
the Freemasons remixed the Morissette vocal as a dance music track which entered the UK singles chart at #8 and the Dutch
single charts at #4.
23. Madonna -
This Used to be my Playground
A League of Their Own (1992)
A League of Their
Own is a 1992 comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball
League (AAGPBL). The movie is directed by Penny Marshall and stars Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna,
Rosie O'Donnell, and Lori Petty.This Used to Be My Playground is a song performed by Madonna.It was used as the theme for the film.Released in the summer of 1992, the single was a worldwide hit.It topped the U.S. singles chart, becoming Madonna’s tenth #1 hit.The track was featured in the film, but was not made available on the soundtrack.This Used
to be my Playground also reached #1 in Canada, Italy, and Sweden.The song entered the Top 10 in many
other areas of the world.
22. The Shins
- New Slang
Garden State is a
2004 film written, directed by, and starring Zach Braff.The movie also features Natalie Portman,
Peter Sarsgaard, and co-stars Sir Ian Holm. The film centers around Andrew Largeman, a 26-year-old actor/waiter who
returns to his hometown in New Jersey after his mother dies.The title alludes to both the nickname
for New Jersey and to lines from Andrew Marvell's poem The Garden.The film contains many allusions
to the similar coming of age film The Graduate (1967), most notably the opening airplane scene that both pictures
Garden State spawned a popular soundtrack
for which Braff, who picked the music himself, won a Grammy award.Braff is quoted as saying "Essentially,
I made a mix CD with all of the music that I felt was scoring my life at the time I was writing the screenplay.”The music in the film features a number of indie-rock artists, most notably The Shins.In an
early scene, Sam passes Andrew a headset which is playing the song New Slang by The Shins and says "You gotta
hear this one song; it’ll change your life.I swear."New Slang is a
song that was released as a 7" single in 2001, and subsequently appeared on The Shins album Oh, Inverted World.
The single didn’t achieve mainstream popularity until the release of the Garden State soundtrack.
Belafonte - Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
Beetlejuice is a 1988 comedy
horror fantasy film directed by Tim Burton. The plot revolves around a recently dead couple who become ghosts haunting
their former home, a quiet house on a hill overlooking the fictional town of Winter Rivers, Connecticut. The movie stars
Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Jeffrey Jones, Sylvia Sidney, and Michael Keaton.The Beetlejuice soundtrack, first released in 1988, features mostly instrumental pieces, but also includes two
Harry Belafonte songs which appear in the film, Day-O and Jump in the Line.
Day-O is a traditional Jamaican mento folk song, which became internationally recognized through Harry Belafonte’s
cover.It is a song from the point of view of dock workers on the night shift loading bananas onto ships.In Beetlejuice, Day-O is used during a funny scene where the new inhabitants of the house
become possessed by the song’s rhythm.The acting in this scene is great.
20. Jon Bon Jovi
- Blaze of Glory
Young Guns II (1990)
Young Guns II is
a 1990 western film, and the sequel to Young Guns (1988). It stars Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips,
and Christian Slater.The movie follows the life of William H. Bonney aka Billy the Kid in the
years following the Lincoln County War in which Billy was part of "The Regulators," a group of around six highly
skilled gunmen avenging the death of John Tunstall.Emilio Estevez originally approached Jon Bon Jovi to ask him for permission to include the song Wanted Dead Or Alive on the film’s soundtrack.Bon Jovi didn't feel the song’s lyrics were appropriate; however, he was inspired by the project and
created a new song for the film that would be more in keeping with the period and setting.
He quickly wrote the song Blaze of Glory, and offered it up to Estevez for inclusion
in the film.The song went on to reach No. 1 on the U.S. and Australian singles chart.It headlined the Young Guns II soundtrack.Blaze of Glory remains a crowd favorite with Bon
Jovi fans, despite the fact that the song wasn't released as one of the band's singles.The
song is also notable for the performance of rock legend Jeff Beck on guitar.In October 2005,
Blaze of Glory was voted as "Best Song to Ride a Horse to in Slow Motion" by Blender Magazine.
19. Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Sweet Home Alabama
Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump is a
1994 American comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom.The film
is directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, and Gary Sinise.The story
is of Forrest Gump, a simple man who comes from Alabama. The film follows his journey through life, meeting historical
figures, influencing popular culture, and experiencing firsthand historic events of the late 20th century. Forrest
Gump is one of the most successful pictures ever made, grossing $677 million worldwide during its theatrical run.
The soundtrack and musical score created for
the film are great.Many classic rock hits from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s are included on the double CD release.Short segments from numerous songs are used in the movie. I have included Lynyrd
Skynyrd’s hit Sweet Home Alabama.The song first appeared on the bands 1974 album Second Helping.Despite controversy, it reached #8 on the US charts.
18. B.J. Thomas
- Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Butch Cassidy and
the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film that tells the story of bank robbers Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman)
and his partner The Sundance Kid (played by Robert Redford).The movie grossed over $100 million
at the box office and was the top grossing film of 1969.Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head is
a song written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.The single received the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1969.
On the soundtrack it was performed by B. J. Thomas and quickly became a #1 hit in the U.S.The tune
was covered by French singer Sacha Distel, whose version was a hit in the United Kingdom as well as France.In the film, Etta Place goes for a bike-ride with Butch during a dialogue-free musical interlude of Raindrops
Keep Falling on My Head.
17. Peter Gabriel
- In Your Eyes
Say Anything (1989)
Say Anything is a 1989
romance film written and directed by Cameron Crowe.It marked Crowe's directorial debut. In
2002, Entertainment Weekly ranked Say Anything as the greatest modern movie romance.The film ranked
#11 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the fifty best high school movies.Perhaps the most iconic
scene in the film takes place near the end when main character Lloyd stands outside Diane's bedroom window, holding a boombox over his head while Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes plays.The scene has been referenced
in popular culture many times over the years. In Your Eyes peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and
was not released as a single in the UK.
Wheel - Stuck in the Middle
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Reservoir Dogs is
a 1992 crime film that is the debut direction of Quentin Tarantino. The movie depicts the events before and after
a botched jewel heist, although the heist itself is not shown.Reservoir Dogs stars an ensemble
cast with Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, and Lawrence Tierney.The
film has become a cult hit.It was named the "Greatest Independent Film of all Time" by
Empire Magazine.The Reservoir Dogs soundtrack features music mostly from the 1970s.
In one of the movies most famous scenes, a police officer is tortured and killed by a member of the gang.The song Stuck in the Middle by Stealers Wheel is featured in the
clip.Stuck in the Middle was a successful single for the band, selling over one million copies.In 1973, the song peaked at #6 on the U.S. singles chart and #8 in the UK.
15. Chuck Berry
- Johnny B. Goode
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future
is a 1985 film directed by Robert Zemeckis, and produced by Steven Spielberg.The film stars Michael
J. Fox as Marty McFly, as well as Christopher Lloyd, Crispin Glover, and Lea Thompson.Back to the Future tells the story of Marty McFly, a teenager who is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955. He meets
his parents in high school, accidentally attracting his mother's romantic interest.Marty must
repair the damage to history, while finding a way to return to 1985.
One of the classic scenes of the movie involves Marty’s cover of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode.The scene is widely referenced in popular culture.Johnny B. Goode is a 1958 rock and roll
song composed by Chuck Berry. It is one of Berry's most important songs, being listed as #7 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- Sweet Emotion
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Dazed and Confused
is a 1993 movie written and directed by Richard Linklater.The film has a large ensemble cast of future
movie stars, including Matthew McConaughey, Jason London, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, and Adam Goldberg.Dazed and Confused depicts a group of teenagers during their final day of school in 1976. The
film grossed less than $8 million at the U.S. box office, but in recent years has achieved cult film status.Director Quentin Tarantino included the picture on his list of the 10 greatest films of all time.
The title of the movie is derived from the Led Zeppelin song of the
same name.Movie producers approached surviving members of the band to ask for permission to
use their songs in the film, but, while Jimmy Page agreed, Robert Plant refused.The Dazed and Confused
soundtrack is composed of some great 70’s rock music.Sweet Emotion is a song by American rock band Aerosmith.It was released in 1975 as the first single from the band's breakthrough album
Toys in the Attic.Sweet Emotion is used as the opening music for Dazed and Confused.However, it was not featured on the soundtrack.
13. Deniece Williams
– Let’s Hear it for the Boy
Footloose is a 1984
film that tells the story of Ren McCormack, played by Kevin Bacon.Ren is a teenager who was raised
in Chicago.He moves to a small rural town where the local government has banned dancing and rock music.If Ren and his classmates want to have a senior prom with music and dancing then they must
face the Reverend Shaw Moore, played by John Lithgow, who blames rock music's influence for the death of his first
The movie was loosely based on events
that took place in the tiny, farming community of Elmore City, Oklahoma.The Footloose soundtrack
is one of the most successful in film history.It reached #1 on the U.S. Pop Album chart on April
21, 1984, where it stayed until June 30, 1984.The soundtrack produced two #1 hit singles, Kenny Loggins'
Footloose and Deniece Williams' Let's Hear it for the Boy.Let’s Hear it for the Boy
peaked at #2 in the UK.
12. Roy Orbison -
Oh, Pretty Woman
Pretty Woman (1990)
Pretty Woman is a 1990
American romantic comedy film.The movie was written by J.F. Lawton and directed by Garry Marshall.It stars Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, and Hector Elizondo.Pretty Woman's plot centers
on down-on-her-luck Hollywood prostitute Vivian Ward who is hired by a wealthy businessman, Edward Lewis to be his
escort for several business and social functions.Originally intended to be a dark drama about prostitution in New York, the film was reconceptualized into a romantic comedy with a broader budget.Pretty
Woman was a critical success and became one of 1990's highest grossing films, and today is one of the most financially
successful entries in the romantic comedy genre.
Woman is noted for its musical selections and hugely successful soundtrack. The film features the
song Oh, Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, which inspired the film's title. Another track, Roxette's
It Must Have Been Love, reached #1 on the U.S. singles chart in June 1990.Oh, Pretty Woman was
a hit single for Roy Orbison in 1964.Orbison posthumously won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Male
Pop Vocal Performance for his live recording of the song on his HBO television special Roy Orbison and Friends,
A Black and White Night.Julia Roberts is smokinghot in the included video.
11. Audrey Hepburn
- Moon River
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Breakfast at Tiffany's
is a 1961 American film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.The movie was directed by Blake
Edwards and was released by Paramount Pictures.It was loosely based on the novella of the same
name by Truman Capote.Hepburn's portrayal of Holly Golightly as the naïve, eccentric gold
digger is generally considered to be her most memorable and identifiable role.Her performance of
Moon River during the film helped composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer win an Oscar for Best Song in
Moon River also won the 1962 Grammy Award
for Record of the Year.It became the theme song for Andy Williams, who first recorded it in 1961
and performed it at the Academy Awards ceremonies in 1962.Audrey Hepburn's version of Moon
River was not included in the Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie soundtrack. Instead an album version
was recorded by Mancini and his chorus.In 1961, Mancini’s version was released as a single
and peaked at #11 on the U.S. singles chart.Moon River was also covered by South African singer
Danny Williams. His version reached #1 in the UK.
10. Simple Minds
– (Don’t You) Forget About Me
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Breakfast Club
is a 1985 American teen comedy film written and directed by John Hughes. The storyline follows five
teenagers (each a member of a different high school clique) as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come
to realize that they are all deeper than their respective stereotypes.The movie has become a cult
classic and has had a tremendous influence on many coming of age films.The Breakfast Club soundtrack
was a popular release, which was headlined by Simple Minds (Don’t You) Forget About Me.The
song was written specifically for the film.It was a successful singe and became a defining tune of
the 1980s. The song reached the top of the U.S., Canadian, and Dutch singles chart, peaking at #7 in the UK.It is used many times in the movie.
9. Berlin - Take
My Breath Away
Top Gun (1986)
Top Gun is a 1986
action film directed by Tony Scott.This movie stars Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards,
Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, and Tom Skerritt.Cruise plays Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell,
a young Naval aviator on board the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.The movie depicts Maverick's
progress through the Top Gun training program, his romance with a female instructor, and his overcoming of a crisis following
a fatal training accident.
The Top Gun
soundtrack is one of the most popular soundtracks to date, reaching #1 on The U.S. Pop Albums chart for five weeks.Take My Breath Away is the love theme used in the film.It was performed by the American band Berlin.Take My Breath Away won the Academy Award for Best Original Song as well as the Golden
Globe Award for Best Song in 1987.It topped the singles chart in Ireland, the UK, and the U.S. in
8. Queen - Bohemian
is a 1992 comedy film starring Mike Myers as Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey as Garth Algar, hosts of the Aurora, Illinois- based cable access television show Wayne's World.The film was adapted from a sketch on NBC's
Saturday Night Live.The film grossed $121.6 million in its theatrical run, placing it as the tenth
highest-grossing film of 1992 and the highest-grossing film ever based on a Saturday Night Live skit.The opening scene of the movie is great.It features Queen’s epic masterpiece Bohemian
In 1975, Queen’s Bohemian
Rhapsody became a major success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks.It reached
number one again in 1991, after Freddie Mercury's death, becoming the UK's third best selling single of
all time.The song enjoyed renewed popularity in the U.S. after the release of Wayne's World.In connection with the film, a new video of the song was released, intercutting excerpts from the film with footage from the original Queen video, along with some live footage of the band.
Mike Myers was horrified that the record company had mixed clips from Wayne's World with Queen's
original video, fearing that this would upset the band. He said, "they've just whizzed on
a Picasso." He asked the record company to tell Queen that the video was not his idea, and that
he apologized to them. The band, though, sent a reply simply saying, "Thank you for using
7. Bruce Springsteen
- Streets of Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a
1993 film.It was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge AIDS, homosexuality,
and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by Jonathan Demme.The
movie stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. It was inspired by the story of Geoffrey Bowers,
an attorney who in 1987 sued the law firm Baker & McKenzie for unfair dismissal in one of the first AIDS discrimination
cases.The film grossed over $200 million around the world.
It won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks) and Best Song
in a Motion Picture for Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia.The song was a major hit
for Springsteen in 1993.It headlines a good Philadelphia soundtrack.Streets of
Philadelphia topped the singles chart in France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Norway.The song reached
#2 in the UK and Switzerland, and peaked at #9 in the U.S.It is used in the opening credits
of the movie.
6. The Righteous
Brothers - Unchained Melody
Ghost is a 1990 drama
and fantasy film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn, and Whoopi Goldberg.The movie’s
plot follows Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen.During the initial scenes, Sam is murdered, but still
remains on Earth as a ghost.The suspicious nature of his murder and his unquenched love for Molly
gives Sam a reason to reconnect with his lover.The Ghost soundtrack was nominated for an Academy
Award for Best Original Score. The album was almost entirely composed of instrumental pieces,
although The Righteous Brothers cover of Unchained Melody was the title track.
In Ghost, Unchained Melody is featured during one of the most famous movie love
scenes, when Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore come together on the pottery wheel.Unchained Melody is
one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century and the Righteous Brothers version has been extremely successful.By some counts, Unchained Melody has spawned over 500 different versions in hundreds of different languages.The movie Ghost has inspired a musical stage version which will open in the West End in 2010.
5. Survivor -
Eye of the Tiger
Rocky III (1982)
Rocky III is a 1982
American film that is the third installment in the Rocky film series. It is written, directed, and
stars Sylvester Stallone as the title character.In the film, Rocky's opponent is James "Clubber"
Lang, played by former bodyguard Mr. T. Lang is a younger and more aggressive boxer than Rocky.
He is brash, arrogant, outspoken, and immensely strong.The film's theme song
is Eye of the Tiger.It was written by the group Survivor at the request of Stallone.
The record became a smash hit single, topping the US Billboard music
chart for six weeks.Eye of the Tiger also reached number one on the UK, Irish, and Australian
charts.It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song and won for Best Rock Performance
by a Duo or Group.The mix of the song heard in the film features tiger growls, though these are omitted on the film’s soundtrack and single versions.
4. Elton John
- Tiny Dancer
Almost Famous (2000)
Almost Famous is
a 2000 comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe and telling the fictional story of a teenage journalist
writing for Rolling Stone magazine while covering the rock band Stillwater.The film is semi-autobiographical,
as Crowe himself was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone.The movie is based on Crowe's experiences
touring with rock bands The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The film was awarded
the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album.
The soundtrack features over 50 songs, including rarely licensed Led Zeppelin tracks, Simon and Garfunkel's
America, Steely Dan’s Reelin’ in the Years, Joni Mitchell’s River, and Elton John's Tiny Dancer.In one of the film's most memorable scenes, the cast of Almost Famous sings along with Tiny Dancer while
riding in the bands tour bus.The message of the scene is that any great song can bring people together,
even if they are at odds.Tiny Dancer appears on Elton John's fourth album, Madman Across the
Water, and was released as a single in 1972.
3. Eminem - Lose
8 Mile is a 2002
American hip-hop drama biographical film, directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy,
and Mekhi Phifer.The film is a semi-autobiographical account of Eminem's early years in
relative poverty growing up in Detroit, and his career in rap. The film was a financial success and was well received
critically.8 Mile won an Academy Award for the Best Original Song for Eminem's Lose Yourself,
becoming the first film with a rap/hip-hop song to win an Academy Award.
Lose Yourself was an international sensation and Eminem’s most successful single to date.The
song reached #1 on a record 24 charts worldwide, including Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Romania, Switzerland, and Sweden.Lose Yourself is the most successful rap song of all time. It spent
a record-breaking 12 weeks atop the U.S. and Australian singles chart, the longest-running #1 of 2002.It
topped the UK and Eurocharts for over a month.It was the seventh most successful song of the decade
Cara - Flashdance... What a Feeling
Flashdance is a 1983
romantic musical film that was the first collaboration of producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer.The
movie follows 18- year-old Alexandra (Alex) Owens, played by Jennifer Beals.Alex is a dancer in
a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tavern at night and a welder at a steel mill during the day. She lives
by herself in a converted warehouse with her pet dog Grunt. Her aspiration is to become accepted by
a prestigious dance school, the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory.
The film’s soundtrack spawned several hit songs, among them Maniac performed
by Michael Sembello and Flashdance... What a Feeling by Irene Cara.What a Feeling was an international
hit and won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 1984.It reached the #1 spot
in the United States, Australia, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Norway, and Canada. The song peaked at #2 in the UK and was
the 25th best-selling single of 1983 in the UK.The song appears twice in the film, during the opening
title sequence and as the backing for Alex's audition routine in the final sequence.
1. Bill Medley
and Jennifer Warnes - The Time of My Life
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dirty Dancing is
a 1987 romantic film written by Eleanor Bergstein and directed by Emile Ardolino.The film stars Patrick
Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The movies story is a coming of age drama that documents a teenaged woman's
rebellion against her father by starting a relationship with a dance instructor during a family summer vacation.Almost a third of the film involves dance scenes choreographed by Kenny Ortega.
The Dirty Dancing soundtrack is one of the best-selling records in history and the final scene has been
described as "the most goosebump-inducing dance scene in movie history.”In the scene,
Johnny and Baby dazzle the audience with a stunning dance performance to the song The Time of My Life.The song reached the top of the Australian, Dutch, and U.S. singles chart. It peaked at #2 in Canada, #5 in Germany
and Ireland, and #6 in the UK.
Mary J. Blige
- Not Gon' Cry
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
Waiting to Exhale
is a 1995 romance film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett.It was directed by Forest Whitaker.The movie’s plot centers on four female friends living in the Phoenix, Arizona area and their relationships
with men and one another.The movie is notable for having an all African American cast.The tagline for the film is “Friends are the people who let you be yourself... and never let you forget
it.”The soundtrack to the film featured many female artists.
Five singles on the album reached the top 10 in the United States, including Exhale
(Shoop Shoop), sung by Whitney Houston, Sittin Up In My Room by Brandy, and Not Gon' Cry by Mary J. Blige.Not Gon' Cry was written and produced by Babyface and became a major hit for Blige, reaching #2 on the U.S. singles chart.It reached #12 in New Zealand and peaked at #39 in the UK.