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This one was a struggle. In the 2000s the soundtrack style of the 80s and 90s was being replaced with movies that featured soundtracks made up of songs from other decades or pop songs that already existed prior to the movie. The dedicated soundtrack song was still kicking in the early years (Eminem’s Lose Yourself in 2002) but by 2009 it was much less popular. With that in mind, this article will not list the best soundtracks of this decade; instead I’ll talk about the best movie music moments from that period (even if a majority of the songs are from different periods).
Almost Famous: Tiny Dancer by Elton John
A fantastic road movie, music movie, coming-of-age movie, and possibly the last good movie that Cameron Crowe made, Almost Famous contains one of my favourite movie music moments. After a huge band-splitting row the end looks nigh for Stillwater, Crowe’s fictional band with whom Patrick Fugit is tagging along with. Their lead guitarist has announced he’s leaving the band and spends the night partying with teenagers and jumping off roofs. When the band is reassembled on their tour bus no one is speaking and everyone is ready to kill everyone else.
And then Tiny Dancer comes on the radio. Heads start nodding, smiles returning, and then one by one each person joins in until the whole bus (sulking ass Billy Crudup included) is singing at the top of their voices and peace is restored. It shows skill to make something that could be too cheesy to comprehend into something fun that also moves the plot along.
(500) Days of Summer: You Make my Dreams – Hall and Oates
Who hasn’t done this? Kissed a girl or spent a night with the boy you fancy or just been in a restaurant and fell in love with a girl as she ate a whole chicken (this is literally how my wife and I met) and afterwards you’ve felt weightless. You’ve felt like you were unstoppable. Everything you say and do is perfect. And in the background there’s music.
Joseph Gordon Levitt walks out onto the street after a night with Zoe Deschanel and captures that feeling perfectly. Every one smiles at him, the fountains explode when he walks by, he looks in the mirror and he’s Han Solo. And when the music plays everyone starts dancing. Marc Webb betrays his origins as a music video director in this scene and puts together a perfect three minute montage to all the joys and wonders of falling in love. And to reiterate that chicken thing is a true story.
O Brother Where Art Thou: Soggy Bottom Boys – I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow
A weird-ass retelling of the myth of Odysseus, O Brother is full of crazy and wonderful characters and situations. For some reason though, my favourite part is the scene at the political rally when, wearing awful fake beards, the Soggy Bottom Boys perform. There’s something wonderful about the Beatlemania-esque screaming of the Southern crowd or George Clooney’s dancing or the aforementioned fake beards. The best part is that when Ulysses (Clooney) begins to sing “Man of Constant Sorrow”, the Coen Brothers do not even try to make it seem as though it is him singing. The voice is completely different and he mouths the words as though he’s chewing them. But in a wonderfully weird film this fits perfectly.
To cheat slightly (it wouldn’t be a Sean Fallon list without a cheat) I’ll also add in the baptism scene. The white shrouded crowd walking to the water while “Down to the River to Pray” plays around them is a gorgeous image and I couldn’t make this list without mentioning it.
American Psycho: Hip to be Square – Huey Lewis and the News
There’s so much to like in this scene: Christian Bale’s dancing, his breathless monologue about Huey and the Lewis, his overblown accent, his quick snaps between his public and private faces, the little shimmy from the stereo to the axe, the manic way he ends his monologue, and then the dull, deadness that follows the murder as the song is the predominant sound.
Watching this scene again to write this list I thought it was funny, but upon repeat viewing I found it scary, and then funny again. The tonal shift within the movie between horrific and humorous is probably best exemplified by this scene in which an absurd situation full of comedic beats plays out but ends in a brutal axe murder. All soundtracked by Huey Lewis and the News, which makes it funnier or scarier depending on your enjoyment of Huey Lewis.
Also once Suicide Squad comes out this scene will go viral as the one where the Joker is killed by Batman. You saw it here first.
Shaun of the Dead: Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
The best for last. We at Audiences Everywhere are big Cornetto fans (the movies and the ice creams) so any chance we get to mention Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, or Nick Frost we’re taking it. Shaun of the Dead was a revelation when it came out. A genuinely scary zombie movie that was full of heart and funny as hell. I went to see this movie at the cinema twice on the same day. Any horror comedy made since this will likely have written on the DVD box ‘If you liked Shaun of the Dead…’ or ‘The best thing since Shaun of the Dead.’ It owes a lot to other movies that came before it but, like the other Cornetto movies, it manages to take its influences, boil them down, and the remake them as something wholly original.
For example, the pool cue attack on the pub landlord set to a faulty juke box playing Don’t Stop me Now by Queen. The Cornetto movies being the beautiful puzzles of references and repeated situations, this scene opens with a direct re-quote of an earlier jukebox conversation before Ed, Shaun, and Liz snap into action grabbing pool cues and rhythmically whacking the zombie landlord until he grabs Shaun (“There’s no stopping meeeeee”) and throws him away. The timing of the lyrics to the actions is genius (Liz and the fire extinguisher) and manages to distract you from the tense situation developing around our characters as the zombies mass at the front doors and break in the back. And obviously the end of the fight comes as Shaun jams the landlord’s head into the jukebox, ending the song as well as the fight.