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Most Iconic Uses of Music in Film

A Top 10 List of the Best Uses of Music in Film.

By Katie Tarnutzer

Graphic by Stephanie Liu

A soundtrack is one of the most important aspects of a film. It can line up perfectly with a scene, and evoke emotion from the audience. Some films excel in their choice of music and in setting the scene. Here’s a list of my personal top 10 uses of music in film:

10. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off- “Oh Yeah”

Starting off strong, we have Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and the iconic scene with the Ferrari. The scene starts off with a view of Cameron’s dad’s classic red Ferrari. As Ferris bargains with Cameron to take it out, Yello’s “Oh Yeah” plays in the background. This movie is as iconic as they come, and a worthy beginner of this list.

9. Risky Business- “Old Time Rock and Roll”

I couldn’t make a list of iconic musical scenes in movies without including Risky Business’ underwear dance. This scene has been replicated to the point of becoming somewhat cliche. Nevertheless, the scene of young Tom Cruise dancing to “Old Time Rock and Roll” will forever be iconic.

8. Megamind- “Welcome to the Jungle”

I know this one is a kids movie, but hear me out. Megamind has an amazing soundtrack. This is exemplified in the scene with “Welcome to the Jungle,” where Megamind makes his quintessential return. The “other” villain of the movie is attempting to scare Roxanne when he is suddenly enveloped in a black cloud of smoke while the beginning notes of “Welcome to the Jungle” begins to play. Despite being from a kids movie, this scene is hands-down one of the best.

7. Wayne’s World- “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Wayne’s World is a classic comedy that almost everyone has seen. One of the best scenes is the one where they are driving and singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” This scene was actually seen by Freddie Mercury before he died, and was given his blessing. This arguably exposed a whole new generation to Queen and will continue doing so.

6. Fight Club- “Where is My Mind”

The next on the list is the classic Fight Club. In the ending, the narrator and his girlfriend join hands as they watch buildings collapse. “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies plays in the background as they watch. Fight Club is arguably one of the most iconic movies of all time, and the ending does not disappoint.

5. Baby Driver- “Harlem Shuffle”

Baby Driver is known for its amazing soundtrack. It was difficult choosing just one song from this movie for this list, but the beginning of the movie is easily one of the best scenes. It opens with Ansel Elgort walking and dancing to “Harlem Shuffle” as he makes a coffee run. This sets the scene for the whole film and builds the viewer’s confidence in the soundtrack.

4. Pulp Fiction- “You Never Can Tell”

Known for its snappy dialogue and status as Tarantino's best film, Pulp Fiction is an unquestionable cult favorite. One of the most memorable scenes occurs when Uma Thurman and John Travolta find themselves in a dance competition in the diner. While “You Never Can Tell” plays in the background, they dance their hearts out. This scene is one of the best in Pulp Fiction, as well as one of the most referenced.

3. Forrest Gump- “Fortunate Son”

Undoubtedly, "Fortunate Son" has taken on the role of the Vietnam War's anthem in popular culture and motion pictures. This trend began with Forrest Gump’s use of it. The first few shots of Forrest's time in the war are set to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." These scenes will forever be iconic.

2. Promising Young Woman- “Angel of the Morning”

Promising Young Woman is easily one of my favorite films of all time, and the ending certainly contributes to that. Without any spoilers, the movie ends with an awesome turn of karma. “Angel of the Morning” plays as Cassandra gets revenge for how she was wronged and turns the tide. This stands as one of the best endings for a movie, made even better by the soundtrack.

1. Kingsman: The Secret Service- “Freebird”

Saving the best for last, Kingsman: The Secret Service has the most iconic use of music in a film of all time. It’s a known fact that the solo of “Freebird” makes anything better, and it is well accompanied by the pinnacle scene of Kingsman. As everyone loses their mind in a church, “Freebird” plays over the fighting. The usage of “Freebird” truly only adds to the chaos and excitement of the scene in Kingsman.


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