With music playing a prominent role in movies recently (like Baby Driver and Guardians of the Galaxy just to name a couple), I’ve been thinking about the songs I hear that automatically make me think of the exact scene from a movie they were in. You know, the songs that were specifically handpicked for the film not recorded for it – they had a life of their own before they were placed on a film’s soundtrack. For example, “My Heart Will Go On” will obviously remind people of Titanic. For all intents and purposes, that song is the theme song for that film and written specifically for it. I’m talking songs hand picked and not as obvious. Music helps make the film, so here is my short list of songs that make me think of movies- updated from when I first wrote about this topic 5 years ago (whoa time flies!)
- “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies from the film Now & Then
This movie was big part of my childhood and if you were a young girl or pre teen in the early-to mid 90s chances are this film was for you too. My best friend Bailey and I loved this movie and wished we could ride our bikes around solving local murder mysteries with Chrissy, Teeny, Roberta, and Samantha. We would also pick which girl we wanted to be. Everyone always wanted to be Christina Ricci’s character Roberta. She hated her boobs which she duck taped down, hung with the guys, and was the toughest of the bunch. Also, Christina Ricci rocks.
Sugar, Sugar will always remind me of the girls painting Roberta’s garage door for money and singing into their paintbrushes. Devon Sawa’s character walks through during the scene, looking like the dreamiest guy ever. Because he was. When you were eight. I also have a theory that he was a key reason why Nick Carter was my favorite Backstreet Boy member because they looked eerily similar. But what teen heart throb didn’t have that same blonde hair cut in the 90s? This song will also always remind me of simpler times, in my best friends living room, singing along.
**Runner ups: “These Boots Were Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra and “No Matter What” by Badfinger
2. “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve from the film Cruel Intentions
This song. That movie. Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe! Together! When this movie came out I was lucky (?) enough to see it because my friends had older sisters who had it. If you have seen the film you know it is a bit risqué for an eleven year old and I thought I was breaking so many rules for watching it. Girls kissing girls. Girls losing v-cards. Incest. COCAINE. It wasn’t until high school when I revisited the film again that I realized how 90s it was! I mean the song “Lovefool” is featured in this film.
However, it is the ending sequence of Reese Witherspoon driving away in her now deceased boyfriend’s pimpin’ car feeling triumphant because she just totally uncovered all her boyfriend’s coke head step sister’s dirty secrets. THE DRAMA. All while “Bittersweet Symphony” is playing in the background. This movie is still a guilty pleasure for me. When Reese and Ryan divorced in real life a little part of me died. Then I quickly recovered because Reese deserved so much better.
**Runner up: “Colorblind” by Counting Crows
3. “Don’t Panic” by Coldplay from the film Garden State
This was the song that originally inspired this article post. So thank it by go listening to it right now! Garden State, written and directed by Zach Braff has a fantastic soundtrack. Also handpicked by Zach Braff. Which is good because Zach Braff has amazing taste in music, as also heard in Scrubs (RIP). I first saw Garden State when I was a sophomore in high school. Pretty appropriate time because who didn’t feel like Natalie Portman’s character? I’m not talking about epilepsy. I’m talking about just trying to find where you’re going. And being a little bit quirky. And telling people that “This song will change your life!” If I remember correctly, after watching the movie, my friend and I both just sat in silence for a little while. We had obviously just discovered the Holy Grail of indie films.
“Don’t Panic“ is the first song featured in the movie. When I listen to it, I know the exact part of the song where the title of the film flashes across the screen. So yeah, I have seen this movie more times than I can count. But it’s a favorite and should be viewed more than once.
**Runner Up: “Let Go” by Frou Frou. Anything by The Shins
4. “America” by Simon and Garfunkel from Almost Famous
I could write pages and pages about my love for this movie. This movie was what made me want to become a journalist. Which I never became because I wanted to be Rob Sheffield or Chuck Klosterman when I grew up and that doesn’t happen overnight. Also, that dream doesn’t pay my student loans but that’s a story for another time. Most people would pick Tiny Dancer for this movie which is a fine choice. Everyone knows the iconic tour bus scene after Russell is scooped up from his acid induced party with the locals and everyone slowly begins to sing along to it. Beautiful. But it really is America that does it for me.
This song alone is one of my favorites of all time. I mean, it’s the song Zooey Deschanel’s character uses in the movie to explain to her mom why she needs to run away to become a stewardess. This is heavy stuff, man. The song plays as she is packing up to leave her crazy, anti-commercialized mother behind. Whenever I hear it, it makes me want to pack up myself and go on a long cross country road trip to look for America.
**Runner up: Tangerine by Led Zeppelin
5. “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce from X-Men: Days of Future Past
This Jim Croce hit from 1972 was the soundtrack to Quicksilver’s epic CIA escape scene in maybe my favorite X-Men film and now it will always remind me of it. They tried to do a similar slow motion scene in X-Men: Apocalypse but it wasn’t nearly as awesome (also I’m just salty at how bad that movie was in general). Sometimes lightening doesn’t strike twice.
6. “Brandy” by Looking Glass from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I think we can all agree that the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks are fire. They have to be when your main superhero’s lifeblood are mix tapes! This one hit wonder from 1972 will probably only be heard while browsing a Home Depot, a large discount liquor store, or maybe a Michael’s but when I hear it, I think of Star Lord’s mom.
There you have it. The songs that remind me of film. Some critically acclaimed, some not, all awesome.