The parts I remember from movies are usually the emotive ones that make your hair stand on end. There is no better cinematic tool than a great soundtrack to create these moments. Here are 10 of my favourite movie music moments.
A Star Is Born (2018) – Shallow, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
Jackson (Bradley Cooper) drags Ally (Lady Gaga) onstage in front of thousands. He has created the instrumental to a song of hers she sang to him once while he was drunk. This moment instantly catapults her career. Suspend your disbelieve because this is will give you shivers. Fun fact – Bradley Cooper trained his voice for a year to lower it an octave for this role.
Love Actually (2003) – Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell
Hands down the best moment of Love Actually, quite possibly the best movie moment ever. You will cry. Another fun fact – Emma Thompson’s performance of heartbreak in this scene might have been so convincing because she and Kenneth Branagh were in the middle of a split after he had an affair with Helena Bonham Carter. Actually, that fact wasn’t very fun.
Up (2009) – Married Life, Michael Giacchino
The music in this Pixar movie is synonymous with the sadness we feel for Carl after the death of his wife. It has become the cornerstone of its success, winning a Grammy, and becoming one of the most celebrated scores used in an animated film. The montage of married life that goes along with this scene is Pixar perfection.
Coco (2017) – Remember Me, Miguel
In this movie Miguel pursues his love of music all the way to the Land of the Dead after his family have banned music and he learns all about his musical great-great-grandfather. The film has been praised for its all-Latino cast and for teaching the viewers about the Day of the Dead in Mexico. This song also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The Graduate (1967) – Mrs Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel
The director of The Graduate, Mike Nichols was fascinated by Simon and Garfunkel and listened to them on repeat during the filming of The Graduate. When he approached the duo about using their music in the film they worried they were selling out. However, Mrs Robinson reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was used to promote the film all over the globe.
Dumbo (1941) – Baby Mine, Betty Noyes
Heart-breaking, truly. Sung by Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo’s mother after she is locked in a cage at the circus leaving Dumbo to fend for himself against the ridicule of the other animals. Interestingly, Dumbo was produced by Disney to make up for the financial losses of Pinocchio and Fantasia. It has become culturally significant and the story has lasted the test of time, with Tim Burton producing a live action version in 2019.
The Breakfast Club (1985) – Don’t You (Forget About Me), Simple Minds
The iconic tone of this 80s movie wouldn’t work quite so well if it wasn’t for the impeccable soundtrack. Teens in a high school find their similarities during a weekend detention and leave having learnt a lesson about themselves without the help of the teacher. This song is placed at the end of the movie and was declined by multiple artists before being recorded by Simple Minds, who were also sceptical. Only after recording did they realise the commercial potential of the single. The movie captures feelings of teenagers very well and uses its music to legitimize the experience. Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.
The Big Chill (1983) – I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye
Another movie with a confessional tone like The Breakfast Club’s, but with adults this time who come together after experiencing a loss. This movie also captures a generation through its music choices and was among the first movies to use commercial songs throughout the soundtrack. This song came out in 1963 so encapsulates the youth of the cast and those watching the film at a similar age. The soundtrack is bright in contrast to the subtext of the film which creates a feeling of apathy, and it works so well.
Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – Heroes, David Bowie
The soundtrack to this film was made by the author of the original book and the film’s director, Stephen Chbosky, He said that these were songs he loved, and songs that others had shared with him. He said he just wanted the soundtrack to be music for people’s lives, whatever may be happening. The song choices are wonderful and have created a new generation interested in The Smiths and Dexys Midnight Runners. The movie has been praised for its emotional weight. When Heroes comes on the radio the first time it is a magical moment, when it comes on the second time it is the most iconic moment of the movie, when Charlie says ‘We are infinite.’
7 Hours On Earth (2020) – Believe, Karina Stephens
Created for the final scenes of the movie when a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream culminates in a song and dance from the cast. For a newly written song this is incredibly catchy and will keep you seated for the credits singing along. The score of this film helps to set the scene when aliens enter a high school, using synthesized sounds to show the contrast of worlds coming together.
It’s impossible to really narrow down top movie music moments but here are 10 of my favourites. Let us know your own favourite movie music moments and check out our other articles.