Beauty and the Best. Photo: MickeyBlog
Beauty and the Best. Photo: MickeyBlog

So many factors go into making the best movies, some of which you might not even notice. First, there's the plot that will excite your imagination and keep you engaged from the title screen all the way through the credits. Then, there's choosing the right actors to fit the look and feel of the story, and putting them in the setting and costuming that make the story come alive. But even though many of us gloss right over the background music in our favorite flicks, soundtrack also plays a pivotal role in keeping you on the edge of your seat, strumming your heartstrings and getting your toes tapping, sometimes all in the same film. Of course, some movie soundtrack songs have stepped out of the background and risen to even greater popularity than the movies in which they originally appeared. There are certain songs that will instantly remind us of the movies they were featured in and the scenes they helped to set. Here are a few of the most iconic musical moments to take you back to your favorite moments on the silver screen.

‘Happy’ (Despicable Me 2, 2013)

A fitting close to this list of the best film songs of all time, Pharrell Williams’ contribution to the animated comedy Despicable Me 2 became the most downloaded song of all time in 2014. ‘Happy’ does what it says on the tin: it is uplifting, catchy and perfect popcorn music. The song did not come easily to Williams, though. He has admitted that the final version was his tenth attempt at creating a song about “agitated and grumpy” fictional character Gru falling in love.

‘My Heart Will Go On’ (Titanic, 1997)

Photo: Movieland
Photo: Movieland

Céline Dion’s power ballad, one of the biggest-selling singles of all time, won a raft of awards and is now almost as synonymous with the doomed ship as the iceberg it crashed into. ‘My Heart Will Go On’ is the romantic ballad that plays as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet embrace at the front of the ill-fated Titanic. Dion does brilliantly to cope with the tricky modulations of the song, while the sweet tin-whistle playing is courtesy of Andrea Corr.

“Wonderwall,” Mommy

Mommy is a rare film with a perfect scene. The film focuses on the relationship between a mother and her son, and when the son just needs to break away, he pulls back the aspect ratio while “Wonderwall” by Oasis plays. There’s nothing else quite like it, and it’s the kind of cinematic moment that takes your breath away.

“Hero,” Boyhood

Boyhood is quite a feat of filmmaking chronicling a young boy’s life. As Mason embarks on the next chapter of his life, the emotional “Hero” by Family of the Year plays over his transition, signaling a change in our hero. Seeing a young man grow up in front of our eyes makes this one of the most iconic movie songs of all time simply due to how emotional it makes the scene.

"In Your Eyes" Say Anything

The image of John Cusack holding a giant '80s boombox over his head as this song plays is seared into our collective memory. Decades later, this song and that moment are still what people associate with the whole rom-com trope of trying to win someone back after you did them wrong.

“Don’t Stop Me Now,” Shaun of the Dead

No one turns a fight scene into a choreographed dance quite like Edgar Wright. Shaun and his pals beat a zombie to the tune of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

It brilliantly contrasts the upbeat song to the utter terror the group finds themselves in, resulting in one of the most iconic movie songs ever.

“The Sound of Silence,” The Graduate

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

“The Sound of Silence” is a moody, atmospheric song that perfectly summarizes the ending of The Graduate. It appears as though Ben has won as he runs off with Mrs. Robinson, but the song choice emphasizes that neither one knows where this relationship will go.

‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’ (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, 1969)

Burt Bacharach and Hal David were working on the music for Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – in which Paul Newman and Robert Redford play 1890s train robbers – when director George Roy Hill said he wanted something evocative of the Victorian era for a scene where Newman takes a romantic bike ride with Katherine Ross. They ended up producing a million-selling hit for BJ Thomas, who had a cold and sang with a raspier voice than usual on the day of recording. Thomas, incidentally, has said that Bacharach originally composed the melody to fit Bob Dylan’s voice.

"Beauty and the Beast" from the movie of the same name

This song really is a tale as old as time now, but many don't know its origin story. Lyricist Howard Ashman was dying of AIDs as he wrote the poignant lyrics and passed before the film came out. It won the Oscar that year, and Alan Menken acknowledged his late writing partner in his speech.

"If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out" Harold and Maude

While Harold and Maude might be a bit of a deep cut for some movie fans, the Cat Stevens song probably does come to mind. Its theme of freedom and following your own path definitely stands the test of time.

‘If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out’ Harold And Maude

Cat Stevens sings about wanting to “be free, be free” in his award-winning soundtrack song for the quirky film Harold And Maude, about a teenager who has an affair with a 79-year-old woman. In 2016, perhaps with no irony, it was used as the music to advertise a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is one of Stevens’ most underrated songs.

"Old Time Rock and Roll" Risky Business

In the most iconic scene of Tom Cruise’s coming-of-age film “Risky Business,” Cruise’s character Joel Goodson has a bit of fun after being left home alone by his parents. Sliding on the hardwood floor in just a buttondown and underwear, Joel lipsyncs and dances to the classic song “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger. Since then, this scene has been parodied by sitcoms, commercials, and even other films.

"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Carol Channing introduced the song “Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend” in the original 1949 Broadway production of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” but it was bombshell and icon Marilyn Monroe who brought it to the big screen. Monroe’s character performs the song, describing how one can exploit men for their money and riches. As the title of the song implies, diamonds are also a reoccurring element throughout the whole movie.

"The Man That Got Away" A Star Is Born

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

Every iteration of “A Star is Born” has its own iconic song, and the 1954 Judy Garland version has “The Man That Got Away.” Composer Harold Arlen had already provided Garland with another career-boosting song in “Over the Rainbow,” and “The Man That Got Away” provided Garland with the most important music scene in the film. The sequence, all shot in one take, features Garland’s character performing the song in front of a small, musicians-only crowd in a night club.

"When You Wish Upon a Star" Pinocchio

Continuing Disney’s early streak of successful animated films was “Pinocchio,” a retelling of the classic tale of a wooden puppet who desires to become a human boy. The song “When You Wish Upon a Star” plays during the opening and closing of the film. It is sung by Cliff Edwards as the character of Jiminy Cricket. Since then, the song has been associated with Disney as a brand, and an instrumental version accompanies the Disney logo at the beginning of every Disney film.

"As Time Goes By" Casablanca

“Casablanca” is one of the definitive romance movies in cinematic history, and part of it owes to the song “As Time Goes By.” Originally written in 1931, the song featured heavily in the 1942 film as a reoccurring motif. Sam, played in the film by Dooley Wilson, plays it at Humphrey Bogart’s request. Warner Bros. would use the song for their brand long after the film’s release, including it with their studio production logo at the beginning and end of their films.

“Stuck in the Middle With You” Reservoir Dogs

All you need to do to make movie history is combine a happy-go-lucky folk song with some good, old-fashioned ear cutting. “Stuck in the Middle With You” is rightfully one of the best songs in movies because it turns torture into downright fun when added to Michael Madsen’s delightfully entertaining portrayal of Mr. Blonde.

“Fight the Power” Do the Right Thing

Cinematic intros are powerful. They should bring the audience directly into the world the filmmaker wants them to live in for the next two hours. Before we get any taste of what’s to come, Spike Lee opens Do the Right Thing with Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” one of the most iconic movie songs paired with Rosie Perez’s aggressive dancing. It shows us what the revolution will look like.

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" The Wizard Of Oz

Some songs are the perfect vehicle for a performer’s interpretation and improvisation, and certain numbers are remembered more for the singer than the writer. If you mention ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, people are more likely to think of Judy Garland’s soaring version for the 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz than the gorgeous work of composers Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. The song was almost cut from the film, though, because MGM thought the opening Kansas sequence was too long. Thankfully, it was left in and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ earned its place among history’s best film songs when it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. There have been numerous cover versions since, from artists as diverse as Eric Clapton, John Martyn and Ariana Grande.

"White Christmas" Holiday Inn

One of those songs that has gained fame beyond its original appearance, White Christmas first played in White Christmas. But it's such a perfect holiday song, it's appeared in many other Christmas movies, as well as all over the radio, ever since.

Above is a list of the greatest 20 movie songs of all time. If you have any recommendations, feel free to add them to the comment section below. And don't forget to like, share and follow KnowInsiders for more interesting news. Thanks for tuning in!

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