The Screening Room’s “Top 10 Songs from the Movies”


Remember when wasting time at work used to take some effort? You couldn’t really
read, and personal calls always required discretion. But now when, say, one
has just gotten back from vacation and really doesn’t want to work, it’s possible
to stay busy with internet "research" and, perhaps, while away the
day reading random top 10 lists.

Anyone doing that yesterday might have stumbled across CNN Screening Room’s
list of the Top
10 Songs from the Movies
. The list is kind of fun because they identified
10 movie genres and selected a song for each – except for the Disney category,
which had two songs. Of the 11 songs selected, three-and-a-half were sung by
women, which is not too bad a ratio as these types of lists go. As it turns
out, I only vehemently disagree with one of the winners. But that won’t stop
me from imagining what a list where there were actually more women than men
represented would look like.

1. Musical

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" – Wizard of Oz, Judy

There’s no real arguing with this one. Although I would argue that The
Sound of Music
is the best movie musical, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
is possibly the best movie musical number ever.

2. Romance

"As Time Goes By" – Casablanca, Dooley Wilson

The article calls this choice, "[a]rguably the greatest pairing of song
and movie" and I cannot really argue with that. But I’ll nominate a runner-up:
"The Way We Were" from The Way We Were. It’s pure schmaltz,
but bombastic ballads like this or the "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know
Where You’re Going To)" characterized mid-1970s romances and deserve some

3. Disney

"When you wish upon a star" – Pinocchio, Cliff Edwards,
and "Beauty and the Beast" – Beauty and the Beast,
Angela Lansbury

"Beauty and the Beast" is not the best song from the movie. (Consider
"Belle": the heroine is singing about how much she loves to read!)
But "Beauty and the Beast" is the title track, and the movie is not
only the best of the new Disney musicals, but it’s the last Disney movie to
feature music and lyrics exclusively from the brilliant Alan
and the late Howard
. Ergo, I won’t challenge this one either. (And, of course, the Pinocchio
pick is a classic.)

4. Action/Adventure

"I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing" – Armageddon, Aerosmith
"Nobody Does It Better" – The Spy Who Loved Me, Carly

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I like Aerosmith and "I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing"
is a perfectly fine song, but there is only one possible choice here –
"Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me. This is
so obvious to me that I cannot even come up with an explanation for why this
is the only choice. It’s just a truth of the universe.

5. Comedy

"Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend" – Gentlemen Prefer
, Marilyn Monroe

No argument here.

6. Roadtrip

"Born to Be Wild" – Easy Rider, Steppenwolf

This is a tough one. I cannot dismiss this selection because "Born to
Be Wild" is the definitive roadtrip song. It’s so iconic that it’s almost
a cliché to use it in a roadtrip context.

But there’s an awfully close runner-up: Marianne Faithfull‘s
"The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" from Thelma and Louise. The lyrics
(which were originally a Shel Silverstein poem!) perfectly convey the desperation
the title characters have escaped and the limited options they have going forward.
And the haunting melody perfectly fits the tone of the movie.

While I couldn’t find a video of the song from the movie, check out this video
and think about the lyrics in relation to the movie.

Kind of eerie, isn’t it?

And this is an interesting
of why "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" is a lousy poem, but
a great song.

7. Indie

"Mad World" – Donnie Darko, Gary Jules and Michael

"Travelin’ Thru" – Transamerica, Dolly Parton

The Donnie Darko song is perfectly good, but I’m overruling it in
favor of "Travelin’ Thru" from Transamerica. Dolly Parton
was robbed of the Academy Award for this song, and I still have not recovered
from the travesty. (She’s probably doing OK, though.)

8. Romantic Comedy

"(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Dirty Dancing, Bill Medley
and Jennifer Warnes

I don’t know that I would pick this, but I’ll let it go.

9. Children’s Movie

"Rainbow Connection" – The Muppet Movie, Kermit the
Frog (Jim Henson)

Perfect. Just thinking of the song makes me a little wistful and sentimental.
Click here
to see the video clip from the movie.

10. Biopic

"Lose Yourself" – 8 Mile, Eminem
"Coal Miner’s Daughter" – Coal Miner’s Daughter, Sissy

"Lose Yourself" has its strengths, but I would put it no higher than
third in a list of biopic songs. ("The Rose" would be second.) The
Coal Miner’s Daughter
soundtrack is so good that I listen to it more than
I listen to the original songs, and the title track manages to sum up Loretta
Lynn in about three minutes.

What have I forgotten? How would you edit the list?

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