By Claire Downs
It’s the perfect formula. Take a pre-existing pop song, add it to a movie scene and BAM! You’ve got yourself a classic cinematic moment. The impeccable harmony between music and screen, also known as “the needle drop,” is that moment when the scene and the song together become so iconic that they can no longer be separated. Directors like Quentin Tarantino and Cameron Crowe love the needle drop so much, there’s almost one in all of their movies. Sure, it might be a way to give the screenwriter a break and “let the music do the talking.” Or, maybe it’s to allow hot-bodied actors a chance to show off their middling dancing and singing skills. Here are some toe-tapping hits forever associated with movies we love!
Don’t forget to tune into VH1 now for our Throwback Thanksgiving movie marathon!
“In Your Eyes” and Say Anything
Even if you haven’t seen Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything, you know this moment. John Cusack has to get the girl back so what does he do, he pops in his Peter Gabriel cassette tape, hoists his boombox high above his Clash t-shirt and let’s “In Your Eyes” rip! Spoiler alert: it magically works.
“Tiny Dancer” and Almost Famous
Ex-rock journalist and director Cameron Crowe loves the needle drop, and Almost Famous is no different. The band is on the bus, annoyed at each other’s sheer presence, when Tiny Dancer” comes on the radio. Kate Hudson starts singing along and it brings everybody together. If only real-life fights could be resolved with just a little Elton John!
“Say a Little Prayer for You” and My Best Friend’s Wedding
This 1997 rom-com with Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, and Dermott Mulroney is a classic. When Julia Roberts brings her gay best friend to brunch to pass him off as a new boyfriend, he tells the story of their relationship by using Aretha Franklin’s hit, Say a Little Prayer For You.
“Don’t You Forget About Me” and The Breakfast Club
You can’t think about John Hughes’ 80s classic, The Breakfast Club without thinking of the Simple Minds song, “Don’t You Forget About Me.” The song is used in the film’s opening and closing credits, as well as a theme throughout.
“Fight the Power” and Do The Right Thing
Whenever Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” comes on, it’s impossible not to think of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. The opening credits feature Rosie Perez on a Brooklyn stoop, jamming out to the song.
“A Thousand Miles” and White Chicks
Long before James Corden started whipping around town jamming out with A-list stars, this amazing scene from the 2004 Wayans brothers flick was the greatest carpool karaoke performance we had ever seen. How can you not sing along to this moment that gave a second life to the Vanessa Carlton hit.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” and Wayne’s World
Wayne’s World is the reason we can all flawlessly nail, “Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango!” whenever the Queen hit comes on.
“Eye of the Tiger” and Rocky
“Eye of the Tiger” is the ultimate workout training montage song. It appears in both Rocky and Rocky III, and I always confuse it with Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.” I’m not the only one who finds the songs similar, Eye of the Tiger was the back-up song after Queen refused to let Stallone use “Another One Bites the Dust.”
“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and Dirty Dancing
It’s the most iconic cinematic dance ever, and it would be nothing without the perfectly timed duet that is “Time of My Life.”
“Gangsta’s Paradise” and Dangerous Minds
It’s a case where the song is even better known than the movie. Though Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” ended up wining the Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance, the song and the movie became intertwined when Coolio featured scenes from Dangerous Minds in the music video.
“Twist & Shout” and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller hops atop a float for some kind of German parade, and lip-syncs to “Twist & Shout.”
“Shout” and Animal House
It’s the toga party of our dreams. Fictional band, Otis Day and the Knights (the real Isley Bros), wrote and performed this song for Animal House.
“Day-O” and Beetlejuice
Also known as “The Banana Boat Song,” this moment in Beetlejuice is awesome. And in case you forgot, the cast is insane: Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, and Alec Baldwin all star in the film directed by Tim Burton.
“My Heart Will Go On” and Titanic
Known to most of us as the “Titanic Song” this Celine Dion hit was the theme song for the James Cameron epic. You hear it and you’ll immediately recall one of the saddest cinematic moments ever. You’ll definitely have to fight back some tears.