ByJodi Wofford, writer at
watch movies, eat burritos: repeat. (Nic Cage 2016)
Jodi Wofford

It is no secret that a little music can infinitely enhance the mood of a film scene (Jaws stripped of foreboding "duh-nuhs" before an impending shark attack seems almost unimaginable). In fact, when done right, a song can leave an impression long after the credits have finished rolling. While countless original scores have become powerfully iconic, many colloquial songs have played such an important role in cinematic history that just to hear them reminds you of a specific movie. Following are 15 delightfully memorable film moments that will always be associated with their soundtracks.

15. Movie: Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Song: "Super Freak" by Rick James

"Super Freak" always possessed the ability to make one want to boogie, but this power heightened after being selected for the climactic dance number for the Academy-Award-winning comedy Little Miss Sunshine. Thankfully, when the next opportunity arises to get down to this Rick James number we can all take a few notes from the Hoover family and release our inner animal.

14. Movie: Hocus Pocus (1993)

Song: "I Put a Spell on You" by Jay Hawkins

Though not everyone remembers the details of this cult favorite children's movie, it is quite a challenge to forget this number belted by the show-stopping Bette Midler. Sure, Nina Simone can bring emotion to this jazzy melody, but the song holds an entirely new meaning when performed by a seductive 300 year old witch.

13. Movie: Napoleon Dynamite

Song: "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai

Napoleon Dynamite evolved from a film no one knew existed into a full-blown pop culture sensation. Not only were we given endless quotable dialogue, but our eyes were opened to the unbeatable funkiness that is Jamiroquai. The song may have an unbelievable vitality of its own, but it's pretty difficult to un-see a thrusting Napoleon when hearing the catchy beat of "Canned Heat." Let's just say Pedro definitely deserved to win.

12. Movie: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Song: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli

Clint Eastwood's big-screen adaptation of Jersey Boys resurrected the music of Frankie Valli, but the film wasn't strong enough to replace the memories of a young, love-stricken Heath Ledger. This scene continues to leave teenagers swooning and begs the question "how can there possibly be 10 things to hate about you?" Nowadays, any time this song is played, we can all think back on the lovable legend that was Heath.

11. Movie: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Song: "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealers Wheel

The brilliantly twisted mind of Quentin Tarantino always makes sure his films feature impeccably selected tunes. Reservoir Dogs is famous for juxtaposing typically frivolous music with gruesome imagery, but no scene is as perfectly unsettling as this. Did Tarantino taint this Stealers Wheel ditty forever? Sure, but we can all be thankful we still have the ears to hear it.

10. Movie: Fight Club (1999)

Song: "Where Is My Mind" by Pixies

Nothing compares to a first-time Fight Club viewing experience. The sheer insanity of watching the climax unfold is nearly unforgettable, which is why the Pixies' grunge-rock jam "Where is my Mind" has become closely correlated with such a "whaaaaa?" feeling. The next time you hear the song in your everyday life feel free to turn to your lover and explain that they met you at a very strange time in your life.

9. Movie: Mean Girls (2004)

Song: "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms

It is undeniable that Mean Girls (deservedly) slithered its way into comedy history with a snappy script from Tina Fey. However, no scene is more recognizable than the "plastic's" rendition of the Christmas classic, "Jingle Bell Rock." Come holiday season, we can all have a good laugh busting out our sexiest moves any time a department store blares this festive anthem.

8. Movie: 500 Days of Summer (2009)

Song: "You Make My Dreams (Come True)" by Hall and Oats

While 500 Days boasts an impressive soundtrack of beloved music, no song has become associated with the film like the 1980 pop number, "You Make My Dreams (Come True)." Never has a song choice better described the energy of post-coital merriness. We can now drop the walk-of-shame act and proudly blast a little Hall and Oats during that stroll home.

7. Movie: Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Song: "Tequila" by The Champs

Whether you are a child or adult: no one can argue that Pee-wee Herman knows how to excite a crowd, especially in his first silver screen adventure. In this scene he taught us invaluable and groovy dancing techniques that can be used at the drop of a hat (particularly in those all-too-tricky "I need to win over a biker gang, STAT" situations). Get up on the bar and tap those fists together because I think I heard someone shout "Tequila!"

6. Movie: Wanye's World (1992)

Song: "Foxy Lady" by Jimi Hendrix

With lead characters that are both musicians and hard rock enthusiasts, Wayne's World is chock-full of exciting tunes. Nevertheless, this scene featuring "Foxy Lady" gives new life to the song by the great Jimi Hendrix and challenges the head-banging "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene as the most celebrated musical moment from the film. Try listening to the song without rhythmically moving your fingers into fox ears. Simply impossible.

5. Movie: Ghost (1990)

Song: "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers

"Unchained Melody" alone is an unquestionably beautiful ballad, but combine its virtues with the magic that is Ghost and no one's tear ducts are safe. Attempt to escape it, but the song will always be tied to the romantic emotions of the 1990 film. Moreover, it will immortally stand as a reminder of how strangely sensual clay spinning can be.

4. Movie: Beetlejuice (1988)

Song: "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" by Harry Belafonte

Tim Burton, through all his ups and downs, has yet to create a scene as absolutely entertaining as this Beetlejuice moment. In truth, the fun of this dead man's party could leave even Oingo Boingo jealous. Though we rarely have the pleasure of hearing Harry Belafonte in our daily lives, when we do, this Jamaican folk song will forever evoke images of a gyrating Catherine O'Hara.

3. Movie: Risky Business (1983)

Song: "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger

Thanks to Risky Business, teenagers everywhere were given inspiration as to what to groove to when left home alone (and an inexpensive Halloween costume idea for those struggling college years). This scene has been referenced on countless occasions and remains a symbol of adolescent freedom decades after the film's release, leading Bob Seger's rock-n-roll classic to forever be a trigger for pants-less parties complete with dangerously smooth sock slides.

2. Movie: Say Anything (1989)

Song: "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel

If you can hear Peter Gabriel crooning "In Your Eyes" without expecting to see an adorable John Cusack serenading you from outside your window, pat yourself on the back, you've accomplished a rare feat. As one of the most iconic scenes in film history, John Cusack's patient, boom-box wielding romeo is permanently associated with Gabriel's 80s love ballad--but, in all honesty, what's so wrong with that? My advice to the lovelorn: if you want to get your girl back, buy a trench coat, a portable stereo, and keep it old school.

1. Movie: The Breakfast Club (1985)

Song: "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds

The title of Simple Minds' smash hit speaks volumes--the song being anything but forgotten after chosen to score the ending scene of John Hughes' The Breakfast Club. The tune quickly achieved platinum status, but it can rarely be heard today without generating deep nostalgia for high school memories or an intense longing to be as slick as Judd Nelson. Hold your fist high, Champ, because you got the girl.


Can you hear any of these songs without thinking of their use in film?

What songs always make YOU think of the movies? Share below!


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