Music has the strange ability to catapult us to a time and place where we can remember exactly where and when we first connected with a certain song. Movie soundtracks have this power of connection as they help deliver the emotional impact and feeling that is portrayed in a given scene.
Oftentimes, a movie soundtrack can take on a life of its own. Cinematic moments are relived through just a few minutes of a song that perfectly captures the emotional on-screen journey. These few songs have made that impact and each has become synonymous with the movie it appears in.
“Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News — “American Psycho”
The 2000 film “American Psycho” boasts a soundtrack filled with 1980s hits to accompany the psychotic nature of Patrick Bateman. After giving his personal and honest assessment of “Hip to be Square,” Bateman murders his colleague Paul Allen as the new wave, upbeat sound of Huey Lewis plays in the background. It is hard to forget a rock song that so heavily contrasts the dark nature and violent scenes of this famed horror film.
“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor — “Rocky III”
Envision a montage of Rocky Balboa training for a fight or sprinting through the streets of Philadelphia as the opening power chords of “Eye of the Tiger” play. Only a song as lyrically inspirational and with such driving energy could play alongside the underdog story of Balboa.
“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds — “The Breakfast Club”
This 1985 cult classic directed by John Hughes remains a quintessential movie about American teenagers and high school constructs. At the end of the movie, the troubled yet sensitive John Bender, played by Judd Nelson, walks across the football field after a day of detention with a triumphant fist in the air. The movie’s final image of Bender freezes on screen as “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” plays. The song lyrics show that these teenagers will not forget about each other, the day they discovered their shared struggles and how they all feel misunderstood by parents and peers.
“Twist and Shout” by The Beatles — “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” also directed by John Hughes, defined the 1980s teen movie genre. It follows three friends as they ditch a day of high school in Chicago. A defining moment of the movie is when the fearless Bueller lip-syncs to “Twist and Shout” at a downtown parade, which enthuses both the crowd and the friends he dragged along.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli — “10 Things I Hate About You”
One of the grandest serenading scenes of the romantic comedy genre is in this 1999 movie. With the help of the high school’s marching band, Patrick Verona serenades Kat Stratford with Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” Verona, played by Heath Ledger, enthusiastically sings while running up and down the steps of their school’s stadium. This scene and song perfectly encapsulate this lighthearted movie.