Great Musical Moments in Film

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The folks over at put out a list of their top 40 moments of music in film. This got me to thinking about my favorites.

Now, mind you, these are just favorties of mine. They are by no means what I consider to be the best (well, a couple are, but you get the idea). They are just some of my favorite moments. Feel free to share your own.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Kasmir – Led Zeppelin

Yes, “Moving in Stereo” by the Cars is the all-time classic in this movie both because of what Judge Reinhold is doing when it is playing and because Phoebe Cates is topless and, yes, both Wolly Bully and Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” deserve mentions. But, Kasmir is my favorite just because you had to be a Zeppelin fan to get the joke. In fact, if you don’t know Zep, you won’t get this entry. Ratner was told that, when in doubt on a date, always play side two of Led Zeppelin IV. Cutting from that moment to him listening to Kasmir is pure genius.

Forrest Gump
Runnin’ On Empty – Jackson Browne

This is one of those moments in a movie that always makes me cry. Forrest is sitting next to the woman at the bus stop telling her about how far he ran and she says, “So, you just ran” and he said yeah. Immediately, it cuts to his feet on the pavement and this song. Knowing what his character had been through and knowing that same urge to run, I get it instantaneously.

Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band

Being able to laugh at this scene is almost a prerequisite for having a sense of humor. I remember hearing this song back in the 70’s at my mom’s health club. Classic!

The Matrix
Wake Up – Rage Against the Machine

I wasn’t much into industrial music until I saw the Matrix. The Propellarheads’ “Spybreak” is probably the quintessential moment in the movie and one of the best marriages of an action sequence with a song ever. But, I love the slow build of RATM right at the end just before Neo flies. Nevermind that the lyrics are perfectly suited to the film.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Twist and Shout – the Beatles

One of the all-time great moments in movie history, Ferris rockin’ the Beatles on a German float while his dad dances in his office. Everyone sings the ah’s in Twist and Shout anyway and this was a classic homage to that kind of fun. If I’m going to mention a John Hughes movie – and how can I not seeing as when I grew up – this seems like a great moment and really funny.

Animal House
Shout – Otis Day and the Knights

Arguably, the coolest music moment on film, the classic toga party scene with Otis Day and the Knights is made even funnier when later in the film the frat brothers go into the black bar and yell, “Otis, my man!” to guys who could clearly care less. Animal House turned this song into a wedding, party, prom classic.

Wedding Crashers
Sparks – Coldplay

In a movie that is side-splittingly funny, it was really surprising and refreshing to have a moment of quiet sensitivity. This Coldplay song perfectly captured the feeling between Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams’ characters and their struggle with how they felt late at night in a house full of family.

School of Rock
It’s a Long Way to the Top – AC/DC

Jack Black really knows rock and roll. He proved that he isn’t just hilarious, he’s also a true student of the music genre with School of Rock. And while there were plenty of fun moments in this one (Black screeching Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” cheif among them), my favorite was the AC/DC song simply because it was so appropriate to the movie and you cannot go wrong with AC/DC when it comes to hard rock.

The Birdcage
We Are Family – Sister Sledge

The Birdcage is one of the single funniest movies I’ve ever seen. It seems redundant to play disco songs in a movie about a drag club, but seeing Gene Hackman (let alone his conservative senator character) have to dance his way out of said club past the throngs of media waiting to skewer him dressed in drag that he worried made him “look fat” was priceless. The role reversal of putting him in drag and finally removing Nathan Lane from his old lady clothes and into a tux made it even funnier.

Wayne’s World
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

This was number one of the Stereogum list and it is most definitely number one on mine even if I didn’t put these in any order. Anyone who grew up listening to rock music on the car stereo in the general timeline of Queen’s release of Bohemian Rhapsody knows the fun of trying to decipher Freddie Mercury’s operatic ramblings. But, the most fun is when the guitar kicks in and everyone starts to bang their heads. I did it. I’m sure anyone who is around my age and listened to rock music did it. It is what made it so damn funny.

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