Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Talkback - Songs worth the money

Yesterday I talked about the high cost of using music in your spec. Performance rights apparently can be $40,000 or more, and using a famous recording of a song can sometimes cost as much as (cue Dr. Evil) One. Million. Dollars.

As you might expect, this can lead to some major budget issues. I don't doubt that many filmmakers have had to agonize over if their million dollar song was worth the cost. The right song can make for a memorable scene - though there are certainly times where the use of a particular song or four can feel self-indulgent. (Paging Mark Webb...)

So what movie songs were worth it in your estimation? (Note: I'm not talking about songs written especially for a film, like most Disney songs, for instance.)

"Don't Stop Me Now" in Shaun of the Dead?
"In Your Eyes" in Say Anything... ?
"Twist and Shout" in Ferris Bueller's Day Off?
"Secret Garden" in Jerry Maguire?


  1. Ooh, definitely "In Your Eyes" in "Say Anything" - that scene still gives me chills...

  2. Not a film, but in Grey's Anatomy, the scene where Meredith is drowing with Butterfly Boucher's A Bitter Song playing in the background made for a very powerful combination.
    Also, Remains by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon in Dollhouse's "Epitaph One" was just a perfect combination.

    These scenes may not be as iconic as some film-song combinations but I think they deserve to be mentioned.

  3. As a film school geek, I have to say that "Sound of Silence" in The Graduate struck me as the perfect blend of sound and image. One of my faves of late was "Ready Steady Go" in Collateral. Related: it's probably worth mentioning that Michael Mann still integrates music into films as well or better than anyone.

  4. Yeah, Cameron Crowe kinda has a monopoly on this category... My personal favorite from one of his films is the use of Elton John's "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" in Almost Famous, where William is running to find Penny Lane in all the cabs. Such a fantastic scene. Actually almost every music cue in that film is fantastic. And in Vanilla Sky, the use of Radiohead's "Everything in it's Right Place" in the opening sequence sets the mood. And yet, then CC took it too far, over-indulging with Elizabethtown, which was basically a movie written around a playlist.

    Other ones I think are great are "Jessie's Girl/Sister Christian" in the crazy drug-fueled Alfred Molina scene in Boogie Nights (another film with awesome music cues, "Best of My Love", "Spill the Wine", "God Only Knows"). And the Revenge Montage to The Who in Rushmore. Perfect choices.

  5. I agree with The Jnow regarding "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" - the song really adds to the scene. "Tiny Dancer" too.

    "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" during the opening credits of "The Big Chill".

    The instrumental "But Not For Me" near the end of "Manhattan".

    "Unchained Melody" in "Ghost" (cheesy, yes, but effective and memorable).

  6. "Gimme Shelter" in that one Scorsese movie.

  7. "Sympathy for the Devil" in C.R.A.Z.Y.