Movie Tunes: The Top 40 music moments in film history: 21-30

Movie Tunes: The Top 40 music moments in film history: 21-30

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30“Louie, Louie,” The Kingsmen – Animal House

Legend has it that director John Landis added this performance to the script after hearing Belushi’s drunken and obscene version at an after-rehearsal bacchanalia. Is it true? Who cares? It’s an inspired choice of music in a scene that’s easily believable as the capper to a long day and night of drinking, fraternity, and brotherhood for all. The scene sparked a “Louie, Louie” revival; two albums of nothing but covers of this one song were released, radio stations had on-air LL marathons, and that whole “unintelligible at any speed” thing was argued yet again. I was a high school junior when it was released, and my friends and I would perform this number at parties for the next two years…loudly, drunkenly, and after careful review of the VHS, with what we believed to be the correct dirty lyrics added by the cast. (review) – Mike Connolly

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29“Under Pressure,” Queen and David Bowie – Grosse Pointe Blank

I’m not a professional hitman. (There, that’s out on the table.) Nonetheless, I could totally relate to the character of Martin Blank (John Cusack) when he felt some serious pangs of uncertainty about attending his 10-year high school reunion. In fact, when this film came out, I had only just attended my own, and…well, it didn’t exactly go as well as it could have. Basically, I made the mistake of setting up camp right next to the keg, and, long story short, I ended up sleeping in the back seat of my car in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn. Good times…and just slightly better than the way Martin’s turned out. (No one tried to kill me at mine, so I maintain that I have the advantage.) Going against his better judgment, he shows up at the event, and while yakking it up with some of his former classmates, he’s handed a baby and asked to hold the infant for a few moment. As the lone collaboration between Queen and David Bowie plays, Martin and the baby have what one might call a “shared moment.” In the length of time it takes for the moment to play out, we realize that Martin’s suddenly become aware of what his life could’ve been if he’d only stayed with his high-school sweetheart, Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver)…and what it still could be if he only gives up his profession. I don’t recall having any such epiphany at my reunion…but, then, I was trashed, so that might explain it. – WH


28“Jump in the Line,” Harry Belafonte – Beetlejuice

With all due respect to the “Day-O” sequence in “Beetlejuice” – it does appear first, and therefore comes as a complete surprise – it is the movie’s closing number, as it were, that gets our vote. Perhaps it’s the song’s relative obscurity (it did not make the Top 40, while “Day-O,” actually titled “Banana Boat,” reached #5), or maybe it’s the song’s brash energy and instant familiarity that roped us in. Oh, who are we kidding, it’s then-fifteen-year-old Winona Ryder, suspended in air and lip-synching to Harry Belafonte, shake, shake, shaking her body line, while the dead football players do a hilarious callback as her backup singers. It was also great to see Michael Keaton’s title character get a, um, little dose of karma from a witch doctor. All in all, it is the perfect ending to an unforgettably loony movie. – David Medsker

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27“Everybody Knows,” Leonard Cohen – Pump Up the Volume

Remember when Christian Slater was cool? At the time, this flick starring Slater as a loner/pirate radio DJ was super cool…if you were a teenager. It’s really hokey now, but back then it fit into a lot of rebellious teens’ ideals. The version of this song used in the movie is the one by Leonard Cohen, taken from his I’m Your Man LP. However, the soundtrack version is by Concrete Blonde…and it completely sucks! I never understood why the Cohen version wasn’t used, as Slater’s character used it as his theme song, and it definitely sounded a lot creepier. Of course, when my one friend finally scored a copy of the original version, it just dragged on too damned long and didn’t really hold up beyond its weirdo status in the movie. Ah, so maybe that’s why a cover was used for the soundtrack. – JT


26“Lust for Life,” Iggy Pop – Trainspotting

Here comes Johnny Yen again! “Trainspotting” director Danny Boyle is nothing if not a master of timing; not only does this song – the title cut to Iggy Pop’s 1977 album – lead off Boyle’s film, it begins at the exact instant Renton’s (Ewan McGregor) feet land on the ground as he and his friends make their mad dash to elude the authorities. The pounding drums of Hunt Sales match Renton’s pounding adrenaline as he runs through the street, down a set of stairs…and straight into the path (and over the hood) of an oncoming car. He’s riding so high, though, that he immediately leaps up and leers at the driver – a part played by you, the viewer – before continuing his sprint. Over the strains of Mr. Pop’s lyrics about hypnotizing chickens, we receive an on-screen introduction to the film’s major characters as Renton offers a monologue on the many choices one can make in this life…and how he’s ignored them all in favor of mainlining the big H. It’s actually pretty hilarious that this, the title cut from Iggy Pop’s 1977 album, has been co-opted for use in a commercial for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines; after the way it was utilized in “Trainspotting,” I can’t help but wonder if the guys at Royal Caribbean knew that people would immediately equate the track with shooting heroin. – WH

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25“You Can Leave Your Hat On,” Tom Jones – The Full Monty

You wouldn’t think that a movie about a bunch of male strippers would be a “guy’s movie” – I mean, you really wouldn’t – but, surprisingly, the story of Gary "Gaz" Schofield (Robert Carlyle) and his friends is one that works on several levels that men can appreciate, most of them to do with having self-respect. Gaz is trying to earn money so that he can keep custody of his son, and given the state of unemployment in Sheffield, he’s not the only one who could do with a bit of extra dough…so when the Chippendale dancers come to town, Gaz has the brainstorm for he and his five buddies to do their own striptease act. “The Full Monty” uses its soundtrack to maximum efficiency and, as a result, is full of potential nominees for this top 40, from Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” to Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff.” When the sextet finally make it onto stage to the strains of Tom Jones’s cover of Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” there’s no question: we’re listening to the film’s de facto theme song. Interestingly, this was one of the few songs to be nominated twice in our poll; it also got props for its use in “9 ½ Weeks,” as sung by Joe Cocker. Yeah, Joe’s alright…but he’s no Tom Jones. – WH


24“I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” The Soggy Bottom Boys – O Brother Where Art Thou?

This infectious bluegrass song is performed twice in the film and plays a significant role in its plot. First, Everett (George Clooney) and the escapees pick up a traveling minstrel, Tommy Johnson (played by real-life blues guitarist Chris Thomas King), who tells the boys that he sold his soul to the devil in order to learn how to play guitar. Johnson leads them to a radio station where a blind man records their energetic rendition of the song under the moniker of the Soggy Bottom Boys. As the story approaches its climax, the song becomes a hit, and after a spirited performance in front of the governor, their surprising popularity earns the boys pardons across the board. It also allows Everett to reunite with his ex-wife, which leads the Soggy Bottom Boys to the cabin in the woods – and the film’s intense, poetic conclusion. – JP

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23“Where Is My Mind,” The Pixies – Fight Club

Best, ending, everrrrrrr. The lead character, in an empty room in a Los Angeles skyscraper, has just shot himself through the cheek in order to kill his sociopath alter ego (you read that right). His on-again, off-again girlfriend has just been dragged to the building by men that he only recently realized worked for him. He grabs her hand and says mildly, “You caught me at a very strange time in my life,” as the entire Los Angeles skyline falls to the ground before them, building by building, per the orders of his now-dead imaginary friend. They simply stand, hand-in-hand, and watch. Whoa. How on earth do you top a moment like that? You add a Pixies song, that’s how. And not just any Pixies song but the Pixies song, their seminal first shot heard ‘round the world that seemed to be waiting for this moment in film to arrive. Dark, twisted, sublime. (review) – David Medsker

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22“If You Were Here,” Thompson Twins – Sixteen Candles

Nothing puts a lump in my throat faster than those first few keyboard strains that hit just as the last car pulls away to reveal Samantha Baker’s dream man, Jake Ryan, waiting for her across the street from the church where her sister has just been married. For Jake isn’t just Samantha’s perfect catch; he is the romantic ideal of everyone who has ever been a teenage girl (or, presumably, gay teenage boy) in America. He’s tall, dark, handsome, and well-dressed. He’s got great hair. He drives a bitchin’ car. And he’s looking for something…serious. His current girlfriend doesn’t appreciate him, and he deserves someone better. Someone special. Someone like… “Me?” When Samantha looks behind her, assuming that Jake couldn’t possibly have just waved at her, and suddenly realizes that, at last, she might just get to have the one boy she thought would remain forever out of reach, the audience shares her incredulous joy. Yeah, you, Samantha. Well done. Now go get me a tissue. – Deb Medsker


21“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” The Four Seasons – 10 Things I Hate About You

Of course it’s preposterous. That’s hardly the point. The issue is not whether Heath Ledger’s Patrick Verona would be given carte blanche to take over the school’s public address system (he wouldn’t), nor whether he could successfully bribe the entire marching band (his high school has a marching band?!) to learn, practice and perform on cue the very song with which he hopes to serenade the object of his affection, one Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles, in the best performance of her career to date). No, the point is the big, beautiful sentiment behind it all, as Patrick steps out into the bleachers, microphone in hand, and pours his very soul into a grand romantic gesture that can’t fail to melt the heart of his ice queen. Because, seriously: Who wouldn’t want to be serenaded in the middle of a soccer field by Heath Ledger? “Let me love you”? Okay. Where do I sign? – Deb Medsker

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