The Top 40 Movie Music Moments


40. New Order - Ceremony

Marie Antoinette
Most costume drama directors can't go anywhere without trailing a 70-piece orchestra behind them. Not Sofia Coppola. For her corset-packed portrait of teenage-kicks queen Antoinette, she went with a contemporary selection of songs; the playlist highlight being New Order's classic Ceremony. Like the decadent party it soundtracks, Ceremony's an upbeat affair at first glance - but look closely at the lyrics: "Oh, I'll break them down, no mercy shown, Heaven knows, it's got to be this time, avenues all lined with trees, picture me and then you start watching..." and you'll see the seeds of a (French) revolution.
GET IT: Substance (London)

39. Geto Boys - Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster

Office Space
White boys get their strop on in Judge’s software-slave satire. First, Ron Livingston’s drop-out desk-monkey Peter Gibbons feels the good gangster vibrations as he decimates his work-space and smears fresh fish-guts on the ‘TPS’ report sheets. Next, he takes Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman) on a post-job field trip: to baseball-bat Hell’s own laser printer, “pc load letter” warnings and all, into stillness.
GET IT: Office Space: Original Soundtrack (Interscope – US import)
38. Johann Strauss - The Blue Danube

2001: A Space Odyssey
In space, no-one can hear you waltz. A gliding shuttle is gently courted by a spinning space station in Kubrick's elegant docking sequence. The circular frolics of Strauss's graceful waltz transform the weightless meeting of two spacecraft into what Kubrick called "a sort of machine ballet". Given the film’s theme, it's also laced with sly irony: this delicious courtship dance rendered sterile by the soulless techno-sheen.
GET IT: Strauss Family: Marches, Polkas and Waltzes (London)

37. Samuel Barber - Adagio For Strings

Hippie Sgt. Elias gets double-crossed by badass Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) in the jungles of 'Nam. Barber's symphony of sadness crescendos as Elias hits the deck in slo-mo, collapsing into a cinematic crucifixion pose as he’s pounded by a volley of VC bullets. ‘Adagio’ went from Platoon to a purist-baiting William Orbit club remix. Later, it became the USA's music of choice for post-9/11 melancholy.
GET IT: Platoon: Original Soundtrack (Atlantic); William Orbit – Pieces In A Modern Style
36. Iggy & The Stooges - Search And Destroy

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
“I’m a street-walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm!” Bill Murray peppers pirates with lead while Iggy goes primordial, popping our inhibitions-cork with a power-punch of cartoonish garage-punk. The scene was originally shot with different music but Anderson wanted more splashy, off-the-leash 'Yes!'-ness.
GET IT: Raw Power (Sony)

35. Ludwig Van Beethoven - Ninth Symphony

A Clockwork Orange
A slo-mo flurry of ultraviolence set to a synth subversion of ‘Ode to Joy’... Choral voices surge up in hearty celebration of the brotherhood of man as Number One Ludwig Van fan Alex brutally re-establishes dominance over his moody Droogies. "He did no harm to anyone, Beethoven. Just wrote music!” whines Alex later when the music is used as aversion therapy. Kubrick's point? Even 'high' culture can inspire evil.
GET IT: A Clockwork Orange: Original Soundtrack (Warners/WEA)

34. Kenny Loggins - Danger Zone

Top Gun
It's already elbowed Harold Faltemeyer's dingy-dongy score out of the way twice, but third time’s the charm for Loggins' comfortably dumb, guitar-propellled, need-for-speed anthem, as Maverick and Iceman face off for the top gun trophy ("It's bottom of the ninth, the score is tied, it's time for the big one!") Tony Scott's amber visuals give way to skies as crisp as the snare-drum snapping out Mr Loggins’ rugged rhythms. You're missing a ‘Y’ chromosome if your heart isn't hammering along in time.
GET IT: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Greatest Hits (Columbia)

33. Urge Overkill - Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon

Pulp Fiction
"I'm gonna go take a piss," announces Vincent Vega (John Travolta) following a dance and a milkshake at Jack Rabbit Slim's. "That's a little too much information, Vince, but go right ahead," responds Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), passing the time as he passes water by bopping around her living room to a reel-to-reel tape of Urge Overkill's brooding Neil Diamond cover – before taking a near-fatal sniff of Vince’s skag. Granny-pleasing MOR crooner instantly associated with a black-bobbed babe and fizzing nose-bubbles of heroin snot.
GET IT: Pulp Fiction: Original Soundtrack (Universal)
32. Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street

Jackie Brown
"You don't know what you'll do until you're put under pressure. Across 110th Street is a hell of a tester…" Womack’s sumptuous urban soul tracks Pam Grier’s Amazonian air steward as she glides along the LAX conveyors. Tarantino twists the air of throwaway Blaxploitation homage by holding close and tight, just about scratching through the surface dignity to her inner turmoil. And all a sly nod to the opener of The Graduate…
GET IT: Jackie Brown: Original Soundtrack (WEA)

31. Vangelis - Love Theme

Blade Runner
Do androids dream of electric sheep? Maybe Harrison Ford's battered bounty hunter will find out in the morning, having gently coerced femme-bot Sean Young into staying the night ("Say, 'Kiss me!'"). Cue the Greek keyboard wizard, sidling in with a swoony puff of pre-sex sax, adding a more-human-than-human touch to the synth-swept futurescape.
GET IT: Blade Runner: Original Soundtrack (Warners)
30. Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger

Rocky III
Risin' up over the opening montage of the Philly-fighter threequel, Survivor's motivational anthem is as much phenomenon as song – from Oscar shortlist to Frosties ad. Its secret? "Simplicity with a message people can relate to," reckons co-writer Jim Peterik, who stepped up when the producers couldn't bag the rights to ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. While the staccato rock of the music rolls with the punches, the words are echoed in Apollo's creed: "Gotta get that look back, Rock. Eye of the tiger..."
GET IT: Rocky III: Original Soundtrack (EMI)
29. My Bloody Valentine – Sometimes

Lost In Translation
Unlikely alienation-buddies Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) and Bob (Bill Murray) fall into an early-hours cab after a night of heavy (platonic) hedonism. Drifting drowsy through the shimmering Tokyo pre-dawn, director Sofia Coppola drops them an aural hug in the form of MBV’s fuzzed-out howl for the unrequited (“You can’t hide from the way I feel…”). Equally remarkable is the way Coppola coaxed the band’s notoriously difficult creative force Kevin Shields into collaborating on the rest of the soundtrack.
GET IT: Loveless (Creation)

28. The Rolling Stones – Memo From Turner

Nic Roeg’s psychedelic psyche-out was a late ‘60s culture-shocker for the Warners execs who thought they’d commissioned a Hard Day’s Night-apeing banker. But Mick Jagger’s androgynous recluse shedding his rock-star chrysalis to burst out as a slicked-back gangster geezer? Now that’s scandalous. Shoulder-charging the fourth wall, Jagger’s unctuous, intellectual pot-puffer prowls, prances, raps (“You’ll still be in the circus when I’m laughing in my grave!”)
GET IT: Performance: Original Soundtrack (Warners)
27. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes

Say Anything
In which the boy – underachieving amateur kick-boxer Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) – pulls out a last-ditch, gloriously cheesy charm offensive to swipe the heart of the girl (Ione Skye, out of his league). Trench-coat flapping, he takes position below her bedroom window, hoists aloft his trusty boom-box and blasts out Gabriel’s soppy/sappy confessional (“In your eyes I am complete…”). The spontaneous serenade has since been parodied to pieces (most notably in South Park episode ‘Raisins’), but here’s the real spell-breaker: the Gabriel song was dubbed in post-production. When Cusack held the radio up for the filmed take, the song playing was the decidedly less romantic ‘Turn The Other Way’ by Fishbone (“World leaders/Neuromancers and masochists all!”)
GET IT: So (Virgin)
26. CeCe Peniston – Finally

The Adventures Of Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert
An arid Alice Springs bar; a tough crowd of moping Micks and stroppy Sheilas… And, Christ in tights if it isn’t Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving, dolled and dragged up to their catty eyeballs (trowelled-on slap, psychedelic peacock head-dresses, forked devil tails, ostrich-beak hats) – all miming to a soaring, redemptive house classic forged in the nightclubs another continent – practically another planet – away. “I would have liked to have looked more beautiful”, says Stamp. “Like Rita Hayworth. The reality was, I didn’t…”
GET IT: Finally (A&M)

25. Stealers Wheel – Stuck In The Middle With You

Reservoir Dogs
Joe Egan and Gerry ‘Baker Street’ Rafferty’s loping “Dylanesque, pop bubble-gum favourite” instantly shed its ditzy innocence when QT twinned it with Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) sawing off a cop captive’s ear with a cutthroat razor. It is, says Blonde, his “personal favourite”. Great - a psycho with a fetish for Scottish folk-rock... Driving home after the ear-slice shoot, Madsen claims to have flipped on the radio to hear… ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ (“It was like it was following me”).
GET IT: Stuck In The Middle With You – The Hits Collection (Spectrum)
24. Harry Nilsson – Everybody's Talkin'

Midnight Cowboy
Aww, poor wide-eyed, gum-chewing Joe (John Voight) - if he only knew where that self-consciously cocky stride was taking him. The naïve Texan's disorientation on the mean streets of NYC is already heavy with tragic pathos, but, coupled with Nilsson's impossibly plangent (Grammy-scooping) elegy to lost familiarity, it becomes almost unbearable when you know what's around the corner. And if Radiohead's 'Just' video wasn't inspired by the suit lying face-down outside Tiffany's, we'll eat our ten-gallon hats...
GET IT: Aerial Ballet (RCA Victor)

23. Ennio Morricone - Main Theme

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Morricone composed the theme tune to Leone's masterpiece before the film was in the can. Extra kudos, then, for the way his score fits the restless opening credits so well. Its barren, two-tone simplicity, layered with cracking whips, whistling bullets and howling coyotes (actually two singers hitting high-note aahs and eehs) intended to highlight "the savagery of the Wild West".
GET IT: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Original Soundtrack (Manhattan)

22. Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

The Exorcist
A nursery rhyme for the devil's child: the opening, echoing twinkles of 'Tubular Bells' set the dark tone for the horror that will come. Think icy fingers playing piano on your spine. Friedkin stumbled over the unreleased recording by chance in Warner Brothers' music library, and had a eureka moment ("That's it! That's it!”). Oldfield trousered major royalties, but remains unimpressed: "It's now such a cliché. In every horror movie, there's a tinkly piano".
GET IT: Tubular Bells Vol. 1 Remastered (Virgin)
21. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Wayne's World
"I think we'll go with a little Bohemian Rhapsody, gentlemen?" "Good call!" And ohhh, it so was... Surely one of comedy's most memorable introductory sequences, the synchronised five-man headbang at Brian May's iconic breakout is just the beginning. Equally delectable are the expressions of Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) as they gurn to reach the nut-twisting "Gallileo!" bits, the homoerotic afterglow of the spaced-out diminuendo, and, of course, the pale bloke vainly trying not to chuck up in the back. Excellent .
GET IT: A Night At The Opera (Hollywood Records)

20. Aimee Mann - Wise Up

Aimee Mann’s tangy love songs coarse like bitter tears through PT Anderson’s symphony of hurt. The emotional storm of a mid-section peaks as the cast mouth the lyrics to this tender/tough ballad. Realism and unabashed romanticism converge, with music used to forge the connections Anderson’s characters crave. Audatious and then some, but not implausible – sad people do listen to sweet, sad music. “They surrender to that moment,” says Anderson, “sink into it, sit there and cry their eyes out.” Let it rain…
GET IT: Magnolia: Original Soundtrack (Reprise)

19. Smog - Vessel In Vain

Dead Man's Shoes
Shane Meadows plants his mournful, revenge-themed Western of the soul in the fecund soil of American indie-roots music. Childhood home-video images contrast with grown-up Paddy Considine and brother adrift, wandering the hills. Bill ‘Smog’ Callahan intones, US folk-style on fate and futility (“I can’t be held responsible…”). Meadows uses song and setting to shift an American genre to Britain: “The moors on the Derbyshire Peaks look like American plains,” he says. Desolate lo-fi and barren landscapes imply the sadness to come…
GET IT: Dead Man’s Shoes: Original Soundtrack (Warp)
18. Spinal Tap - Stonehenge

This Is Spinal Tap
Nigel Tufnel wrote the Tap’s defining rock monument after a “bad dish of Indian food” in ’75. In ’82, the relics of the riff took ’Henge live. Problem? A set designer's muddled measurements saddle the band with a stage-prop “in danger of being crushed by a dwarf”. Any connections with Black Sabbath’s over-sized set for their 1983 ‘Born Again’ tour were, naturally, coincidental. Happily, though, size issues didn’t discourage the band. “Tap at ’Henge,” insisted Derek Smalls, “would be a dream gig…”
GET IT: This Is Spinal Tap (Polydor)
17. South Park – America, Fuck Yeah!

Team America: World Police
“So lick my butt and suck on my balls! America, FUCK YEAH!” Trey Parker and Matt Stone police your ass with a profane payload and a fittingly sweary successor to ‘Uncle Fucka’ (with 37 'fuck's for your buck). In its lusty variation on the list song, ‘AFY’ wickedly parodies/decimates Simpson-and-Bruckheimer’s steroidal posturing. (Stone: “We watched Top Gun three or four times.”)
GET IT: Team America: World Police: Original Soundtrack (Atlantic)

16. Roy Orbison - In Dreams

Blue Velvet
David Lynch was dubbed Jimmy Stewart from Mars. Bruce Springsteen said Roy Orbison’s voice seems to come from another planet. Marriage in weird heaven? Here’s to your fuck! Ben (Dean Stockwell) mimes into spooky light, Frank (Dennis Hopper) terrorises Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) and the Orb' croons (“I can’t help it!”) as nightmarish creatures of compulsion cast fresh shadows on an innocent-sounding lament. Or, in leering Frank-speak, “Pretty, pretty… pretty, PRETTY!”
GET IT: The Very Best Of Roy Orbison (BMG)

15. Vera Lynn - We'll Meet Again

Dr Strangelove
Designed to boost wartime morale, Vera Lynn’s closing-time singalong is set to blossoming mushroom-skied Armageddon at the corrosive close of Stanley Kubrick’s Swiftian satire. “We’ll meet again some sunny day,” croons Lynn, and the images re-route the meaning of the words: humanity and the bomb meeting on some retina-searing eternal night. Kubrick shot a custard-pie-fight finale and considered having a karaoke ball bouncing over the lyrics. But his final solution couldn’t be more hideously apt…
GET IT: Dr. Strangelove: Music From The Films Of Stanley Kubrick (Silva Screen import)

14. Public Enemy - Fight The Power (Uncensored)

Do The Right Thing
Bomb Squad producer Hank Shocklee called it the “theme that held the movie together”. ‘FTP’ kicks off Spike Lee’s state-of-the-nation classic with a bark of intent. Chuck D issues a rallying call to a black America ravaged by Reagan and preparing for Bush Snr. “Mental self-defensive fitness!” he booms, chiming with Rosie Perez’s proud, politicised stare and vascular prize-fighter strut. Film and song explode in theatrical combustion. Don’t fight it, feel it…
GET IT: Fear Of A Black Planet (Def Jam)

13. Bernard Herrmann - Psycho

“He didn’t even want any music in the shower scene,” said Bernard Herrmann. Hitchcock, roly-poly buddha of cine-sadism, may be one of our most distinct auteurs, but the savage score for Janet Leigh’s meticulous murder scene was Herrmann’s work. Where Hitch wanted water and screams, Herrmann suggested cruel, dissonant strings without percussion or rhythm. In cutting, Hitch set about “Ripping the film”. With Herrmann, he tore bloody gashes in soundtrack history. Little wonder he doubled the composer’s pay afterwards.
GET IT: Bernard Herrmann: Psycho Soundtrack – Live with National Philharmonic Orchestra (Souvenir Records)
12. Duelling Banjos

“Goddamn, you play a mean banjo!” At a gas station, Drew (Ronny Cox) is outdrawn, string-style. Pernickety point: this city-country showdown is between banjo and guitar . As Billy Redden, aka the moonfaced Lonny, couldn’t convincingly fake playing, another sprog hid behind his chair to do finger-work. Nor was it improvised: Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith recorded the tune in the ’50s and reminded by sueing for royalties. Still, Drew’s defeat nails the out-of-his-depth theme. “I’m lost,” he laughs. He will be...
GET IT: Deliverance: Original Soundtrack (Warners)
11. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

Withnail & I
Paul McGann’s foppish Marwood flopped in the back of the Jag, Hendrix’s choppy tickles of wah-wah rousing him to a crude awakening (“Here comes another fucker!”)... And then the reveal: Withnail’s (Richard E. Grant) high-speed lane-swap; Jimi’s dive-bombing riff strafing a drunken squeal down the late ‘60s M25. Soon, a moment of clarity/hilarity (“GET IN THE BACK OF THE VAN!”) and the driver’s swimmy-eyed submission. “It’s the best drunk acting I’ve ever seen”, says writer/director Bruce Robinson. Not bad for a teetotal actor on his first feature.
GET IT: Experience Hendrix: The Best Of Jimi Hendrix (MCA)

10. Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now

Shaun Of The Dead
A camp starburst of wit and blood as our heroes (using ear gromits playing the tune) smash, jig, shuffle and rhythmically shamble their way through the baying zombie hordes. “The only other song we considered was ‘Rasputin’ by Boney M,” says director Edgar Wright, but, thankfully, sense prevailed: British film, British humour, British music. Ruined by ’80s discos, reclaimed in this rom-zom-com, it’s a perfect example of music seemingly lifted from the film environment. “It’s not an ironic use of Queen,” insists Wright. “I genuinely love this song!”
GET IT: Greatest Hits (EMI)
9. Elton John – Tiny Dancer

Almost Famous
Relationship on the decline? Acid taken its toll? Time for a sing-song… “I loved the guys that kind of slyly said within the frames of their movies, ‘Hey, man, I love music and I love film!’” says director/song junkie Cameron Crowe. “And sometimes, y’know, I marry ’em both in a great way.” In a career practically propped on ace musical bits, the moment Stillwater sing and make-up to ‘Tiny Dancer’ feels like one of most natural and spine-tingling, highlighting the redemptive oomph of a shared classic. 
GET IT: Madman Across The Water (Island)

8. Huey Lewis & The News – Hip To Be Square

American Psycho
“Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now , you fucking bastard!” Reptilian Manhattan murderbeast (“Did you know, I’m utterly insane?”) Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) slithers into a protective raincoat and breaks an enemy broker into many twitching little pieces with an expensive axe – all to the “clear, crisp” strains of The News’ second-finest hour (‘The Power Of Love’ – duh). Huey wasn’t happy with the context and pulled the tune from the official soundtrack – but not the film.
GET IT: Greatest Hits (Chrysalis)

7. The Church – Under The Milky Way Tonight

Donnie Darko
“I wish I knew what you were looking for…” implore the ‘80s also-rans, as Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) shoves his head into various liquid phalluses. With Richard Kelly’s debut hurtling to a conclusion of sorts, the audience remain as befuddled as the hero. This helps… “I was careful with the lyrics”, says Kelly, “to make sure they had meaning.” No shit. Steeped in teen paranoia, the acoustics swirl and the vocals hang like a sozzled spirit. Every word fits. Forget ‘Mad World’; this is Donnie's signature tune.
GET IT: Donnie Darko: Original Soundtrack And Score (Sanctuary)

6. Sam Cooke - Blue Moon

An American Werewolf In London
In what was then - and still is today, in its own quaintly impressive way - a truly face-melting slab of effects trickery, David Kessler (David Naughton) transforms, amid much blood-curdling screeching, into a big bitey-dog on his missus' living room rug. Not for the only time in the movie (elsewhere we're treated to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 'Bad Moon Rising' and Van Morrison's 'Moondance'), the soundtrack mocks the horrific mutation - Cooke's barely-audible syrupy ballad spinning softly on a record player across the room.
GET IT: Hit Kit (Keen Records)

5. Lou Reed - Perfect Day

It might've been fitting to have The Beatles' ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ soundtracking Renton's (Ewan McGregor) massive overdose, since it's'Mother Superior (Peter Mullan) – mentioned explicitly in Lennon’s lyrics – who sets Renton up with a hefty smack-hit. As it turned out, it’s Lou Reed's wry elegy to dependency that shepherds his ironic descent into oblivion. Just don’t confuse it with the hideous 1997 BBC charity rehash/hash-up.
GET IT: Transformer (RCA Records)

4. Pixies - Where Is My Mind?

Fight Club
One of the best lines from the best film of the ‘90s sneaks in right at the death. The Narrator (Ed Norton) turns to girlfriend Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) and admits, with deadpan matter-of-factness, that "you met me at a very strange time in my life". As if to prove it - and symbolise new beginnings – sequential detonations raze the financial skyscrapers all around them, as chief Pixie Frank Black's schizo squawks play us out.
GET IT: Surfer Rosa (4AD)
3. Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode

Back To The Future
For Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) to turn to the aghast attendees of the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance and quip, "I guess you guys ain't ready for that yet... but your kids are gonna love it!" is pretty rich. Okay, so he's just treated them to a febrile hair-metal freakout in sleepy 1955, but frankly it's a performance that would leave most crowds frozen in horrified disbelief today. Still, his egregious histrionics are arguably justified - he has just engineered a bout of tonsil-tennis between his future folks.
GET IT: Chuck Berry: Chuck Berry Is On Top (Chess Records)
2. Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place

Vanilla Sky
Eyelids flicker, keyboards shimmer. The trance begins… TV sinks into the floor, perfect body, grey hair-clipper, the sodding apartment… Everything. Everything. Everything in its right place... Or is it? “Jason Lee was really in love with Radiohead,” says Cameron Crowe, “we played a lot of their tracks during filming.” No surprise there, with Thom Yorke’s admission that “Yesterday, I woke up sucking a lemon” perfectly fitting the film’s feeling of nothing being in its right place. Enter lucid dream…
GET IT: Kid A (Parlophone)

1. John Williams - Binary Sunset (The Force Theme)

Star Wars
First, an ambling French horn, then the full orchestra delivers a throat-lumping rendition of the Force theme, underscoring the twin-sunset-gazing that symbolises Luke's iconic ache for escape. So resonant of the series that Lucas homaged it at the end of Episode III.



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