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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Five Best: Defining Movie Songs (for me) Part 1

courtesy of

I'm making a pretty one-sided (but very extended) list this week, actually at the request of my brother. His exact words: "I would like to see a list of the top songs that define a movie FOR YOU. Not of all time. And not themes." So, I searched my memory banks and realized I have way too many of these. I did my best to narrow it down, but I can't. So, here's part one (four parts) of songs that burned films and scenes into my brain. Some of these films I wouldn't even say I love - they just left a mark that I can't get rid of. See the playlist at the bottom of each of these posts to listen to the songs in full.

Note: Characters in the film don't technically "sing" these songs. For a list of those, check out the Five Best Non-Musical Sing-a-Longs.

Note: Some of the songs/videos on these lists may not be suitable for young audiences (language).

Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" courtesy of

Bob Seger - "Old Time Rock and Roll" from Risky Business (1983)

Link to Scene:
The oldest movie on my list (I apologize) is still renowned for this scene. It's been parodied in more places that you can imagine, but mostly because we've all done some variation of it. We may not thrw major parties or make love to a prostitute on a train, but we can all say we've sung in our living room, bedroom, or shower to one of our favorite songs when we think no one is looking.

Dean Stockwell in "Blue Velvet" courtesy of

Roy Orbison - "In Dreams" from Blue Velvet (1986)

Link to Scene:
David Lynch's disturbing look at the twisted realities in suburban America has an vengeful undertone, thanks to Dennis Hopper's brilliant performance. But Dean Stockwell sticks out for me, as he gives us a smooth lipsync to Roy Orbison's beautiful serenade (he is a pimp, after all). It's haunting and, in some ways, one of the creepiest things you'll ever see on screen (in the context of the film of course).

Scene from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" courtesy of

The Beatles - "Twist and Shout" from Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Link to Scene:
If it meant I could have led a parade and not been caught, I might have skipped school, too. Quite possibly the best the 80's had to offer in terms of good, friendly fun, Matthew Broderick's performance as Ferris Bueller will forever be the measuring stick to which teen comedies is compared.

Scene from "Beetlejuice" courtesy of

Harry Belafonte - "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)" from Beetlejuice (1988)

Link to Scene:
Before Time Burton dove deep into the macabre and began making nothing but goth-themed, creepy films with Johnny Depp, he had a little bit of fun with Michael Keaton. The movie that showed us that ghosts really aren't that bad made sure we'd remember, by giving us a wonderful performance from Catherine O'Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and the rest of their houseguests to Harry Belafonte's cheesy classic.

John Cusack in "Say Anything" courtesy of

Peter Gabriel - "In Your Eyes" from Say Anything (1989)

Link to Scene:
The scene has become a bit cliche, for sure, but within the story of the film, it's a bautifully meaningful tribute. As Lloyd Dobler does his best to win back Diane Court, his bets efforts involve allowing the great Peter Gabriel to do the talking through his boombox. It's a touching gesture inside a truly romantic and heartfelt film from Cameron Crowe.

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