And now for something completely different. The other day I was stuck in traffic and I got to thinking about the best adaptations of music to movies, in other words, soundtracks that rely on songs not originally scored for a movie. Last night I was watching television and compiled this list, but not in any order or preference:
– Green Onions by Booker T and the MG’s in American Graffiti. This song is immortalized in the scene featuring a single file row of hot rods driving out to Paradise Road for the climatic moment in the movie.
– The Ride of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now. Quite possibly the only aspect that surpasses the brilliance of laying this classic over the helicopter battle scene is overlaying the helicopter pilot radio chatter on it. This is a movie filled with great music but this stands one scene stands out on so many levels.
– Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers in Notting Hill. Yeah, I’m comfortable enough with my masculinity to admit that I liked this movie. The scene featuring this song, which gets overused in modern movies, is really good not just because of the song but also the visual effect of Hugh Grant walking through the changing seasons. Well done.
– Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel in Reservoir Dogs. Yeah the infamous “ear scene”… who could forget it.
– Layla by Derek and the Dominoes in Goodfellas. Robert DeNiro’s character pulls of the Air France heist and proceeds to kill almost everyone involved in the heist to this tune.
– Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie in Gross Pointe Blank. There are so many incredible Queen songs and I was tempted to highlight Bohemian Rhapsody in the movie Wayne’s World, but I think this the scene in Gross Pointe Blank featuring this song is more poignant whereas Wayne’s World is just about hamming it up to the song.
– Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith in Dazed and Confused. Anyone who grew up in the 1970’s will get the scene featuring the song because of the song, nuff said. Great cinematography in these scene in what is an otherwise weak movie.
– Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo?ole in Meet Joe Black. This song gets way too much use in commercials and movies but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s a beautiful rendition of a classic movie song and nicely applied to the scene in this movie. He has two songs in this movie, both are hypnotic.
– Your Song by Elton John in Moulin Rouge. The song is actually performed by Ewan McGregor so it probably doesn’t belong in this list, yet it’s still one of the most memorable scenes in a movie featuring a lot of really good music (who would of thought that Nirvana could be adapted to 19th century Parisian life).
– AC/DC in Maximum Overdrive. The entire soundtrack for the screen version of the Stephen King novel is AC/DC music and what makes it work is that each song is perfectly scripted to the scene that features it.