What would the movies be without music? In light of the Oscars, Street takes a look at the best song and scene pairings in movie history.
Cameron Crowe’s kind–of autobiography pic is pretty close to cinematic perfection and the scene on Stillwater’s tour bus with Elton John’s Tiny Dancer playing is pretty close to cinematic soundtrack perfection. Watching all of the characters sing along in unison to EJ’s anthem speaks to the bond formed among the characters on the tour and, in the least cheesy way possible, to the power of rock ‘n’ roll. Even after Billy Crudup’s character [SPOILER ALERT] pulls a serious diva movie by doing acid and screaming “I’m on drugs” before jumping into a pool from a roof, he’s still got it in him to join the singalong. And if screaming the lyrics right along with Stillwater and their groupies is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.
Tom Cruise in all his pre–Scientology playboy glory is one of the greatest things the ’80s ever produced, along with this high school movie gem. The “Old Time” scene showcases exactly what we all want to do when we’re home alone: raid the liquor cabinet and dance like an idiot in our underwear to our absolute favorite song. Inspiring a number of slutty dress–up days, Halloween costumes and one star–studded Guitar Hero commercial, Cruise’s air guitar scene is nothing short of iconic and unforgettable. And honestly, if this endearing teenager–starts–a–brothel–while–his–parents–are–away romp hasn’t won your heart before Cruise’s no–pants dance, it certainly will have afterwards.
The Graduate revolutionized movie soundtracks. The decision to enlist Simon & Garfunkel to write pop songs specifically catered to the film was something that just hadn’t been done before. Even though “Mrs. Robinson” shouldered most of the soundtrack’s lasting popularity, “The Sound of Silence” was the perfect accompaniment to the final scene between Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross. As they stare off into the distance contemplating their totally brash decision to run away from Elaine’s wedding, “Silence” seems to explain all their fears and uncertainty post–confidence rush in one soothing and soulful three minutes.
It’s kind of hard to explain why Beetlejuice is such a great movie. The story is that two recently deceased ghosts hire a “bio–exorcist” to get rid of the new annoying owners of their house. That sounds like nonsense, but it ends up a comedic and uplifting treat featuring vintage Winona Ryder and some hilarious crude humor. The use of Harry Belafonte’s song perfectly matches the tone of the film: goofy but great. Winona Ryder comes home from school and starts levitating while mouthing the words and hanging out with her new dead friends, and everything somehow feels right. Maybe this one’s just stuck with me because I’ve been watching Beetlejuice since I was six, or maybe it’s just one of the greatest movie songs of all time.
The only song on this list to actually win an Oscar for best original song, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” paved the way for rap in the movie industry. It narrates the rapper’s struggle with stage fright and finally coming out of his shell to do what he does best—freestyle rap. The song is set to when Eminem (or his alter ego, B–Rabbit) is walking into his final freestyle showdown with whomever it is he’s rapping against, and the first minute pumps you up perfectly for B–Rabbit to [SPOILER ALERT]wreck s*** against his opponent. Still praised as some of Eminem’s best work, “Lose Yourself” is as memorable as they come.
Don’t Worry, I Didn’t Forget: I would explain why “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is an incredibly iconic and perfectly utilized song in “The Breakfast Club,” but you can just watch “Pitch Perfect” for an explanation instead. Seriously, I highly recommend it if you’re into the whole good–songs–in–good–movies thing.
Trailer Bonus: If you haven’t got the time to invest yourself in a movie just to experience the awesomeness of these songs, check out the Gatsby trailer. No Church in the Wild and Jack White’s wonderful angsty rendition of U2’s “Love is Blindness?” Yes, please.
Our Oscar Picks:
Best Original Song in a Movie
Want to Win: “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted.” Norah Jones’s beautiful crooning coupled with Seth MacFarlane’s ingenious comedic lyrics? This would be a fantastic upset.
Will Win: “Skyfall” from “Skyfall.” Adele cannot lose because she’s Adele, and I’m not complaining. Second only to Beyoncé, Adele deserves it.
It’s a Shame: “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice” is a beautiful and sad song that will certainly get overlooked by the more mainstream nominees this year.
Best Original Score
Want to Win: Alexandre Desplat’s “Argo” score keeps you on your toes during one of the most inspiring movies of the year, and I would love to see Desplat take an Oscar home.
Will Win: This is a tough choice, but I’m going to call Mychael Danna’s “Life of Pi” score, which is a beautiful combination of the cultural musical stylings of India with the beautiful sound of a full orchestra (even if it wasn’t my favorite choice).
It’s a Shame: John Williams, up for his 42nd nomination, just might not cut it this year, but the vet certainly deserves a mention.