In my opinion, the soundtrack to a movie is just as important as anything else -- the dialogue, the acting, the sets. I mean, "JAWS" wouldn't be nearly as frightening if you replaced the iconic "duh-nuh" with, I don't know, "My Girl." Well, that would just be straight-up weird. But the point is, the music playing while the plot plays out is very key to the storytelling.
And even more important is the music that the characters actually interact with, the songs they play on their stereos or sing along with on the radio. I'm not talking about the scores, but rather the tunes that the audience and the characters experience equally. Because no matter how outrageous a plot can get, the experience of throwing on a favourite song and dancing or singing your heart out is pretty universal.
So here are my top five favourite character-experienced songs, sorted chronologically because I am practical like that. Have a listen and then tell me yours!
1. Duckie air-belts "Try A Little Tenderness" ("Pretty In Pink," 1986)
When it comes to "Pretty In Pink," I was always more of a Stef girl, but Duckie has his relatable charms. I mean, a few weeks ago I was standing in my kitchen wearing some questionably bright high-waisted pants, dramatically lip synching to Otis Redding's "I've Got Dreams To Remember" when it dawned on me that Duckie and I aren't that different after all.
2. The "In Your Eyes" boom box serenade ("Say Anything," 1989)
I mean, come on. John Cusack kind of ruined us with this one. Forever we'll be waiting for someone to stand outside with a boom box, or iPod dock, or in the case of "The Mindy Project," mariachi band, and blow us away with earnest, genuine yearning. Ah, I'm too jaded for this.
3. The trio dances to "Time After Time" ("Romy And Michele's High School Reunion," 1997)
No one has ever made threesome dancing look more magical. Romy and Michele, in their custom-made, height-of-'90s-glam minidresses, allow themselves to be tenderly seduced by the magical moves of Sandy Frink and his new face. All anyone around them can do is watch in awe and try not to weep to the beauty of Cyndi's song.
4. "Tiny Dancer" tour bus singalong ("Almost Famous," 1999)
This scene is important because it shows both the bonding and soothing properties of song. Everyone starts out cranky and tired but through the calming magic of Elton John's key-tinkling, the group comes together to SING! Yay! And I mean, this is pretty realistic because anytime I have been around a group of at least three people and this song has played, you can bet your bottom dollar that every person was joyfully shout-singing, "HOLD ME CLOSAH, TINY DANSAHHH," possibly with tears in their eyes.
5. "Looking For The Magic" loops, and loops, and loops ("You're Next," 2011)
(I'm choosing to embed just the song rather than the scene, to avoid spoilers.)
Watching "You're Next" was actually the first time I had heard the Dwight Twilley Band's "Looking For The Magic," and I am eternally grateful for it. This song is amazing, incredibly catchy and upbeat, and I'm surprised it's not more of a well-known hit. In the movie, the song is played on repeat, and with any other song this might get annoying, but with this, it just becomes simultaneously haunting and oddly enjoyable. I wasn't sure what to expect from "You're Next", but from its opening looped-song scene, its gooey, gory middle, badass female protagonist and hilarious twist ending, "You're Next" ended up being, in my opinion, one of the best horror movies of the past 10 years. Oh, oh, OH, I ...
And there you have my top 5, though there are many more. Now tell me yours.