Music and the movies have always gone together. Yet, every once in a while a movie manages to use music in a way that imprints it into the hearts and minds of anyone who sees it. We’ve tracked down and listed a few of the best movie music moments and listed them below. Usually, these moments occur not in musicals, but rather in popular films that manage to integrate a song particularly well to capture an emotion and entertain us.
If you discover that your favorite song is not listed here, chances are that it is either listed on best soundtrack songs page or on best movie theme songs. We also have created separate pages for both James Bond songs and Disney songs. Plus, we have additional movie songs categorized by decade. You can find links to those pages at the bottom of the page.
Who knew that a traditional Jamaican folk song about dock workers would become such a popular hit in the United States in 1988? Although it has been featured in several television shows and movies, it is best know as the song played during the infamous dinner party scene in Beetlejuice. Watch the scene from Beetlejuice
No one can listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody” without banging their head in rhythm the way the five “teenagers” from Wayne’s World did. Granted, these actions were not invented by nor premiered in the movie. The action began much earlier and instead the movie simply imitated life. Still, the scene became an instant classic and will be forever linked with the song.
The song “Cuban Pete” was originally performed by Desi Arnaz in the 1946 movie of the same name. Arnaz also performed it on an episode of I Love Lucy. However, the song became a classic when Jim Carrey sang his own version during a police stand-off in the movie The Mask. Come on, admit it, haven’t you always wanted to the same thing when you got pulled over? Watch the “Cuban Pete” scene from The Mask
“Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” was featured in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. If the scene seems only vaguely familiar, than perhaps you’re more familiar to the homage paid to the scene by Madonna in her “Material Girl” video or by Nicole Kidman in the movie Moulin Rouge. As my mother always said, “Marry for love–but remember it’s just as easy to love a rich man as it is a poor one!”
Anyone who feels chivalry is dead has not seen Say Anything. Where once men could prove their love by slaying dragons and rescuing princesses from a tower, now they have to resort to other means. Which is exactly what John Cusack’s character Lloyd Dobler does in the movie when he serenades his former girlfriend by blasting the song “In Your Eyes” on his boom box outside her window.
Dirty Dancing has so many great musical moments, it’s really hard to pick just one (which is why there are two listed on this page!) This song is played at the end of the movie when our knight in black leather, Johnny comes back to show everyone why “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
Our second Dirty Dancing moment is the infamous “dance lesson” scene. According to movie legend, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were simply goofing off to the song before shooting the real scene. Their improved act went so well that the director decided to keep it and scrap the original.
Audrey Hepburn sang this Oscar winning song in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The song was written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini specifically for Hepburn’s limited vocal range. Amazingly, the original version of the song was never released until 1993, after Hepburn’s death.
Flashdance is a wonderful example of the influence MTV had on our society. Before MTV, music was either played in the background or sung by the actors. Yet,Flashdance uses the music in the style of “self-contained music videos.” The actors do not sing the songs, but instead are dancing to the music. A couple other good examples of this are “I’m Free” from Footloose and “Take my Breath Away” fromTop Gun.
Here the opening of this song and you’ll instantly have the urge to kick off your shoes (and pants) and start sliding on the wood floor as you lip-sync the lyrics. Of course, the scene was helped by the image of a young Tom Cruise in tighty whities. The scene is often imitated and became almost instantly a classic (and since it first occurred in 1983 I guess by now it is).
Almost everyone will recognize this song although few would be able to name it or who performs it. The song features a mix of electronic music and manipulated vocals and has been featured in countless movies and commercials. The song is played in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off during the Ferrari scene and in The Secret of My Success when Michael J. Fox is being seduced by the older woman.
No one could sing “Rainbow Connection” the way Kermit could–it even made it to number 25 on the Hot 100 list that year. It seemed the perfect song to open the first in a series of feature films starring Jim Henson’s beloved frog and soon became synonymous with Henson’s Muppet ideals. I urge anyone who has yet to see this film to rent it. Need convincing? Check out a partial list of the cast: Mel Brooks, Edgar Bergen, Milton Berle, Dom DeLuise, Elliott Gould, Bob Hope, Madeline Kahn, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Telly Savalas, and Orson Welles. Unfortunately, Kermit’s version of “Rainbow Connection” is unavailable either as a CD or an mp3. Therefore, I’ve linked to the second best version by Sarah McLachlan
The song was actually sung by the Isley Brothers, but the band Otis Day & the Knights performs the song during the infamous toga scene in Animal House (and sung by Lloyd Williams on the soundtrack). The song will forever be linked to drunken fraternity parties and has made this scene a classic.
Wait, I know what you’re thinking, “Stayin’ Alive” is from Saturday Night Fever,. Well, it is, but the movie was parodied in the movie Airplane! and it’s that scene that is worth mentioning. In Airplane!, Robert Hays goes to a very tough looking biker bar, but when he puts this song on the jukebox everyone starts dancing. Julie Hagerty and Hays then parody the dance done by John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in the film.
“Tequila” might have sunk into Rock obscurity had it not been for Pee Wee Herman and his Big Adventure. In the movie, Pee Wee knocks over a row of motorcycles and, when faced with the angered bikers, decides to win them over by dancing to the song. Warning: once you see the scene it will be almost impossible to dance any other way besides the Pee Wee Dance to the song.
Only Ferris Bueller could take a day off from school and wind up in the middle of a parade float. Ferris puts a whole new spin on daring and cool. Consider him the person you always wanted to be but never had the guts to be.
Add one shirtless Patrick Swayze to one half-naked Demi Moore, add a little mud and the crooning melody of the Righteous Brothers and you have one of the classic movie moments. The scene made pottery sexy and sent dozens of women sprinting to their local art supply store.
Although An Officer and a Gentleman does not go down in the record books for being the world’s most romantic movie (in my opinion) it did manage to create one of the world’s most romantic scene. At the end of the movie, Richard Gere goes to the factory where his heroine Debra Winger works, scoops her up and carries her away from her dead end factory job. All the time “Up Where We Belong” is playing.
Who could have guessed that a chick flick would spawn one of the all time greatest love songs ever written? Yet it’s true, the song that’s played towards the end of the movie when Bette Midler is facing the death of her friend is also one of the all time favorites for weddings and other romantic moments.
Technically, “You Can Leave Your Hat On” was first featured in the movie 9 1/2 Weeks. However, it was the British comedy film, The Full Monty, that became the most infamous scene for this song. The song was originally sung by Joe Cocker, but Tom Jones’s version is a bit more sultry–and the perfect fit for the ending scene of the film when the men do a male striptese.
There are three major musical moments from Saturday Night Fever that could go on this page, however we finally settled on “You Should Be Dancin’” which occurs in the middle of the film. For the record, the other two were the opening scene where Travolta walks to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” and the dance sequence he has with Karen Lynn Gorney to “More than a Woman.” However, since this dance is the one that is most often imitated, it seems only fair that it be included here.