10 Epic On-Screen Music Moments
Someone recently asked me if I could name my favourite musical moments in film – a classic all-time top ten. Tough call. There are so many to choose from, and even if we tried to narrow things down by saying “only films which aren’t musicals”, we’d still be left with a fairly solid list to start culling down.
For now, I’m not going to bother with the ‘all-time’ tag. Too tough. Plus, this is the Internet, and even though by next week my list will have completely changed, I’ll still be tried and executed by the court of Google for crimes of bad taste I’m unknowingly committing today.
So my list for today, in no particular order:
1. Wayne’s World : Bohemian Rhapsody
It’s iconic, it’s a cliché, but honestly, what is there not to like about it? The mark this one scene left on an entire generation still stains this killer Queen track to this day, none of us likely to ever hear the smashy guitar solo without feeling the urge to headbang. The film may have dated a bit now, but the epic opening is timeless. Even better in French…
2. Buffy – They Got The Mustard Out
There’s far too much back-story to explain here (like, six seasons plus six episodes preceding) but in short: a demon has come to town and is sucking everyone’s lifeforce by making the townspeople involuntarily sing and dance ’til they burn up in a ball of all-singing all-dancing flame. I know this isn’t a “movie” by any stretch, but in the stand-out episode of this classic Whedon series, this small interlude still makes me laugh. Quintessential ‘if life was a musical’ moment if ever there was one.
3. Magnolia – It’s Not Going To Stop
A couple of hours into this fine, multi-threaded film by Paul Thomas Anderson, at arguably the bottom of the rollercoaster for each character (of which there are many, their pitfalls very dark and deep), they suddenly break into song. I found it an odd, uncomfortable moment when I first saw the film, but have come to love the craziness of it. That, and I’m totally down with Aimee Mann as a rule. Great movie. Tom Cruise was robbed of an Oscar that year (the only thing I’ll still defend him for).
4. High Fidelity – Let’s Get It On
Say what you will about Jack Black and his music career nowadays, but when High Fidelity came out and he got up and belted out this classic Marvin Gaye track, not many in the audience knew he could even hold a note. The setup throughout the film is perfect – the boisterous all-talk music-snob, getting up at the make-or-break moment for John Cusack’s character, then nailing the shit out of the song to everybody’s complete surprise. We all know Black can belt, but every time I watch this bit I still buzz.
5. South Park Movie – Uncle Fucker
You have to remember that when this film came out, nobody had *ever* heard the South Park kids swear. After sitting through a fairly lame, tame opening scene or two (wondering why the hell I’d paid to see it on the big screen) we were all suckerpunched by this sweet puppy of a song. I remember laughing so hard a little bit of wee came out. What still gets me to this day is how superbly overdone and polished everything else (apart from the lyrics) is about the track – a fantastic arrangement littered with nods to many famous musicals, perfectly executed. And farts.
6. Beetlejuice – Day-O
I was torn between this song and the one from the closing scene (which I think I honestly prefer), but I think this has to win out on style points, memorability and the fact Tim Burton managed to combine both demonic possession and Harry Belafonte in the same scene. Another song I cannot hear in any other context without thinking of plates of shrimp grabbing people by the face and beating them up.
7. Donnie Darko – Head Over Heels
I love a good “geeks and jocks” scene in any high school movie, but because Donnie Darko isn’t your average teen flick, its G&J gets an equally special treatment. The kick-ass Tears For Fears track introduces the viewers to practically every character in the film (we haven’t met yet) in this glorious steadicam sequence, wordlessly telling us everything we need to know about them all. Brilliant. (UPDATE – had to change this clip over to someone’s remix of the music video and Donnie Darko clip because of a copyright notice from FOX – alas, you’ll have to watch the movie to see this scene in full!)
8. Reservoir Dogs – Stuck In The Middle
Who doesn’t like a spot of easy-listening while they’re maiming tied-up policemen? Not much to say about this that hasn’t been said elsewhere before, except that it’s another song forever linked to this gruesome visual…
9. The Big Lebowski – Just Dropped In
Fine, okay, so I’m getting quite 90s heavy on this list in general, but hey, you promised you wouldn’t judge! Just shut up and watch the clip. It’s Kenny Rogers for crying out loud – show some respect! This movie moment is so full of awesome I don’t even know where to start.
10. Muppet Movie – The Rainbow Connection
Awww… Kermit sitting on a log all by his lonesome, strumming on a banjo, singing that song. If that’s not a perfect way to round out this list, I don’t know what is…
I saw you pop up on Adele M’s FB page and Googled you to see where you’re at these days… and LO! I found this. 🙂 I love it. "Day-O" is one of my all-time favourites, Kermit brings a tear to the eye every time (though really, my Muppet Movie favourite is "Can You Picture That?!", but don’t get me started or I’ll be singing all night. 🙂 ), I love "High Fidelity" (and in another cosmic coincidence this evening, the chick who plays Laura in that film is in a Swedish show I’m currently watching… Small-arse world…), and I’d completely forgotten about "Uncle Fucker". Good stuff.
Glad to see you’re doing well; I have fond memories of nights at the Merthyr Bowls Club many years ago, and I’ve never forgotten the two jokes you told me on my 27th birthday. 🙂
Take care, and all the best,
Madeleine – sorry for the epic delay in replying! (mumbles something about a bad notification preference in said website) We tend to float in the same Facebook comment circles from time to time, so I’m hoping all will be forgiven…
I’m pretty certain I remember which two jokes those might be – likely those two animal-related (in their own, sweet way) ones, quite the popular theme back in those days. The dawn of the Internet age meant a lot of the oral tradition has disappeared for me, and what I had in my repertoire back then hasn’t been replaced by much better.
It’s scary how many years have passed. Do let me know if you’re ever cruising through London – I’ll be here for a while – and yes, very nice running into each other.
See you in the comments… 🙂