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Jun 27 2008

10 Out of Place Songs That Work Really Well in Movies

Published by at 9:15 am under Editorial

Reservoir Dogs

Sometimes songs just seem to fit a movie. For example, it’s pretty obvious that one would use the song “Singing in the Rain” in a movie where the guy is actually singing and it’s actually raining.

However, some movies play a song and you think to yourself, “Dude, what the hell is going on here?” and you just can’t fathom why the song has been used.

However, after thinking about it you realize how disturbing, yet indescribably appropriate the use of that song was.

Here are my picks (in no particular order) for the 10 most out of place songs that work really well in movies

American Psycho – “Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News

American Psycho

A whole myriad of songs could be chosen for American Psycho but it was either Huey Lewis or Phil Collins for this pick. “Sussudio” is great but Huey Lewis is just too comical to pass up.

A Clockwork Orange – “Singing in the Rain” by Nacio Heb Brown

Clockworke Orange

Another movie where I could have gone in another direction. “Beethoven’s 9th” could have been used but if you’ve ever seen A Clockwork Orange and then hear the song “Singing in the Rain,” you just don’t think of Gene Kelly anymore.

Boogie Nights – “Sister Christian,” by Night Ranger

Boogie Nights

Remember how long the camera was on Wahlberg’s face at one point during this scene? It was over a minute. One of my all time favorite scenes in a movie. Amazing.

The Game – “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

The Game

This is the insane scene where Michael Douglas sees a picture of his dead father in a toy clown’s mouth. His entire house is covered in UV lights and what song is playing? “White Rabbit.” So eerie. David Fincher is the man.

Roger and Me – “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” by the Beach Boys

Roger and Me

Remember this guy?

Great parody work here. Michael Moore may be fat and annoying but the guy can make a movie… no matter what people’s opinions are. And when you play this song during evictions and heartache, it’s effective.

Fallen – “Time is on my side” by the Rolling Stones

Fallen

I for one, always think of this movie whenever I hear this song. It’s definitely appropriate for the movie’s theme but certainly “out of place” enough to warrant a mention on this list. You just don’t associate this song with serial killers do you?

Blue Velvet – In Dreams/Blue Velvet by Roy Orbison

Blue Velvet

Sure it’s the name of the movie but come on! Dennis Hopper is draining laughing gas and acting like a complete loon and that same movie contains a sweet Roy Orbison song? Check. David Lynch is certainly strange.

The Big Lebowski – “Hotel California” by The Eagles, sung by The Gypsy Kings

Big Lebowski

This one was debatable only because all the other movies involve some kind of whacked out horror. However, it’s just completely random and amazing that the Spanish version of Hotel California is played when John Turturro is licking a bowling ball.

Full Metal Jacket – “Chapel of Love,” The Dixie Cups

Full Metal Jacket

Something’s amiss when you are filming a Vietnam scene in the mud and frankly “the shit” and you hear “Going to the chapel and we’re….gonnnnna get maaarried” playing. Kubrick, as usual, stuns his audience in a great great way.

Reservoir Dogs – “Stuck in the Middle with You,” by Stealers Wheel

Reservoir Dogs

This one goes without saying and is clearly the best.

Obviously this list isn’t set in stone, if you have any suggestions please feel free to participate in the comments.








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25 responses so far

  • Johnny Bench

    Spanish version of the Eagles song is out of place? Turturro is a latino rival and the Dude hates the Eagles…so it’s perfect.

    Blue Velvet is out of place on the movie Blue Velvet?

    White Rabbit was a trippy song by a trip happy band played during a scene with the main character is tripping out.

    Hip to be Square…is…perfect.

    Sorry, but i just don’t agree with this list at all. Carry on.

  • Natty

    To each their own Johnny. To each their own. Care to comment on the rest of them? I’d appreciate a full analysis because I really care.

  • Beerude

    Seriously? I thought for SURE the number one would be Adagio for Strings from Platoon. Without a doubt. And not even a mention? Boo….

  • http://www.merchuwant.com Brock

    What about “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran in the scene where they stomp the shit out of that guy in Layer Cake. I really expected that to be on this list.

  • Jay

    haha yeah the ‘Ordinary World’ moment in Layer Cake was golden

  • Fincher

    No mention of the Pixies song at the end of Fight Club, one of the most perfect and most unexpected songs to come on at such a point in a movie.

  • Elliott

    Elliott Smith’s Needle in the Hay during The Royal Tenenbaums. Its such a jarring song because of the contrast to the style of the rest of Wes Andersons choice of music.

  • Franky!

    what about dueling banjos from deliverance

    its so random when they start playing it

  • Marclavis

    “It’s the Same Old Song” at the end of Blood Simple. Frances McDormand has just finished watching her boyfriend die and then brutally killing her attacker, the screen cuts to black and this upbeat Motown classic fires up, wonderfully out of place.

  • Papa Lazarou

    “What a wonderful world” in Face/Off.

    Average movie, but great juxtaposition in the scene where a child is watching his parents and extended “family” engage in a shootout with the cops. John Woo’s visual aesthetic doesn’t hurt the scene either.

  • Dave

    What a Wonderful World in the movie “Good Morning Vietnam” worked pretty well. People are being forced into the army, women and babies are being burned, American troops are raping and killing etc. all while Louie Armstong croons. Pretty amazing.

  • http://sportfiends.com houroc

    Reservoir Dogs is a good choice but actually you could’ve really picked any Quentin Tarantino movie because he always uses very interesting and different sound tracks

  • ogie

    “goodbye horses” by Q Lazzarus in The Silence of the Lambs. The song is actually a beautiful song about transcedning your own senses. BUT it for ever will be remembered for the scene where serial killer Buffalo Bill dances in front of the camera with his Schwanz tucked in.

  • Sam

    Lou Reed’s Perfect Day in Trainspotting.

  • Le Bron Mexico

    “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangster” by the Geto Boys in “Office Space” is a glorious juxtaposition. Also, do not forget Donovan’s “Atlantis” playing as Billy Bats gets stomped in “Goodfellas”.

  • Dinosaur

    There’s a really great scene in “Vanilla Sky” with Todd Rundgren’s “Can We Still Be Friends” going … I have vivid memories of Cruise racing down a stairwell as Rundgren hit the “La la la” part. It was weirdly appropriate.

  • Robert A

    “We’ll Meet Again” was perfect for the ending of Dr Strangelove.

  • Brad

    Layla in Goodfellas.

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  • Me

    Blue Velvet was by Bobby Vinton, not Roy Orbison.

  • Amy

    What about Queen used in A Knight’s Tale?

  • Rob

    Yeah man I think you’ve got it all wrong. Most if not all of those songs add something and break crappy soundtrack stereotypes.

  • Thomas

    I’m surprised that I didn’t see Free Birn by Lynyrd Skynyrd when it is played in the Devils Rejects when they are driving towards the police barricade. One of the most epic out of place song moment ever.

  • Thomas

    Free Bird**

  • brad

    Well unfortunately the name of the song now escapes me, but how about the scene in Man on Fire where Denzel is clipping the fingers off the man who’s tied to the steering wheel?

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