Can you imagine watching a movie without music? Imagine Rocky running up the stairs in Philadelphia without "Gonna Fly Now" playing and Gene Kelly splashing around musicless, no "Singin' in the Rain." Or "You’ve Got a Friend In Me" missing from Toy Story. How could Sebastian have gotten Eric to kiss Ariel without "Kiss the Girl"? Would these scenes have been as memorable? I don’t think so.
Everyone you know knows Frozen’s "Let It Go" and Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. Without a good song giving us all the feels, some of our favorite films might not have been so impactful. Songs give movies depth and bring the story to life. The best soundtracks take you back to that movie moment every time you hear it. Iconic movie songs transcend decades.
With the Oscars this weekend, we thought it would be fun to share our favorite iconic movie songs.
Circle of Life
by Elton John
Movie: Lion King
The Lion King is a classic, especially for any kid of the 90s. Whenever I hear "Circle of Life," regardless of the context, I find myself singing along. It is the perfect introduction to the movie and a good reminder of what life is about.
~ Katy Matello
by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Movie: Baby Driver
The entire soundtrack for Baby Driver was incredibly thought out and purposeful. Edgar Wright created a movie with precise pacing in the acting, stunt work, and editing all working together to match the energy of the story and present a powerful film. The movie opens to the song "Bellbottoms" and a sequence where we are thrown right into the action, learning exactly what we need to know about Baby, the getaway driver for this gang of bank robbers. All the music is unique throughout, always an unexpected song, but perfectly fitting the moment. A big part of Baby’s character is the fact that he has tinnitus, which is only made less painful by playing music through his headphones. The use of diegetic sound in the film makes the soundtrack especially evocative, as most of the music is playing in real time, the characters react to Baby’s soundtrack.
~ Stokes O'Shields
This Is Me
by Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Cast
Movie: The Greatest Showman
The absolute raw power of "This is Me" captivated me the first time I heard it. As a society, we (collectively) still push for the “norm” and often deny individuals their true authentic self. Embrace who you are and let those who matter embrace you as you are and where you are.
~ Martha Sanderson
Pennies from Heaven
by Louis Prima
"Pennies from Heaven" is perfect for the hustle and bustle of New York, but it still captures the awe and pure happiness Buddy has throughout the film. You expect a Christmas song or two in a holiday movie like this, but "Pennies from Heaven" gives good energy and will keep Elf on your mind all year long. I have been hearing it all over TikTok too and because I instantly think of Elf when I hear it is a major indicator of how intrinsic this song is to the movie.
~ Abbi Stickels
Movie: We Bought A Zoo
Music makes a movie. I could list a multitude of songs from movies that made me feel a certain emotion. If you have ever seen We Bought A Zoo (if you haven’t, you need to go watch it right now); you know how moving the soundtrack is. I could listen to this soundtrack and my favourite, "Why Not," every day because it’s just so delicate and beautiful.
~ Julia Duncan
by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Movie: A Star Is Born
Lady Gaga is a music legend, her songs are memorable but "Shallow" from A Star Is Born is the one that pulls at my heartstrings. All the music on this soundtrack is a continuation of the love story. But when you hear “Shallow” it’s impossible not to feel its raw power and be taken back to that moment in the movie when the main characters expose their vulnerabilities and bring you on an emotional journey. No wonder this song won an Oscar.
~ Gina Duncan
These are just a few of the many iconic movie songs over the decades.
What are your favorite movie songs?