March 4, 2013

Playlists for Any Occasion: Songs from Movies

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The recent Oscars has us in a bit of a movie mood. What better way to celebrate this than with a playlist to honor our favorite musical movie moments? Each of these songs has a corresponding movie scene that brings tears, sighs, swoons, giggles or dropping jaws.

Kaw Liga- Hank Williams Jr.This song is used in a scene from one of this year’s most unjustly snubbed movies: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. While the whole movie positively drips with ironic charm — and has a delightful score — this scene in particular brought a smile to my face. Seeing tiny Sam Shakusky row his tiny canoe, brow furrowed, to the tune of this earnest country-blues song is just so perfectly ridiculous and endearing that one cannot help but feel warm and enchanted by this world of calculated whimsy.

Earth Angel- (From the soundtrack, originally done by The Penguins)One of the very best films the 80’s has to offer, Back to the Future. This scene has a climactic element to it, where the hero Marty McFly (don’t call him chicken!) is in danger of not existing! He plays with Marvin Berry and the Starlighters as he watches his parents’ courtship unfold, pivotal to his being. The triumphant finish of this song stays true to the time-bending snappiness of this film that is both exciting and slightly camp when examining it from our distant future.

Qué Sera, Sera- Pink MartiniThis is from one of my favorite films of all time, Mary and Max. It also quite possibly may be one of the weirdest films of all time; a claymation picture about a little Australian girl with neglectful parents and a decent amount of self-hatred inadvertently becomes pen pals with an obese middle-aged New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome. This movie is maybe one of the most macabre, dreary and relentlessly, honestly depressing movies ever made. However, the claymation and biting black humor make it enjoyable and easier to digest. Strangely enough this movie is hilarious. This song comes in during the film’s climax — one of the most emotionally exhausting ordeals I have ever experienced. It delivers the widest range of genuine yet conflicting emotions possible. A magical movie moment nestled into a film that communicates well through its score (Penguin Café Orchestra is frequently played throughout the movie).

Tiny Dancer- Elton JohnLike many, I am partial to Almost Famous. Who doesn’t want to be William Miller? The film is exciting yet somehow comfortable in its quiet beauty. When everyone on the fictional band Stillwater’s tour bus starts singing “Tiny Dancer,” it appeals to our desire to have these life altering, unique experiences together. This scene radiates a strong sense of belonging and existing as one in the now. I’m confident that everybody wants to stand on top of a house and yell, “I AM A GOLDEN GOD.” Similarly, we all want to go on tour with a wild band and all sing Elton John together.

I Believe I Can Fly- R. KellyNot much needs to be said. As a child raised on Space Jam, the triumphant return of Michael Jordan to earth after his big with against the “Monstars” made me believe that I, too, could fly. Space Jam is truly an underdog story — just some “Toons” (and Michael Jordan) against the world (and aliens)!

Shake A Tail Feather- Ray Charles and the Blues Brothers BandThe Blues Brothers is a film that has absolutely everything. Suspense, humor, excitement and one of the most absurdly star-studded casts of all time performing mind-blowing hit after hit. Really, this cast is bananas; musicians like Aretha Franklin, Elmore James, Cab Calloway, James Brown and Fats Domino make appearances. Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia for you Star Wars fans), Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy and Twiggy are also a part of this madness. This particular song, “Shake A Tail Feather,” is performed by none other than Ray Charles. This number is possibly the most exciting and infectious dance scenes to ever exist. It’s got so much soul that it’s in danger of exploding. It is absolutely impossible not to have fun watching this scene, and, furthermore, this movie.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door- Bob DylanBob Dylan scored and appeared in the 1973 Western, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. The film has many intriguing aspects, including the fact that it stars Academy Award winner James Coburn, musician and actor Kris Kristofferson and Dylan himself! Naturally, Dylan epically arranges and composes the film’s music. This scene in particular has everything: epigrammatic warnings, shots fired and stumbles into the desert sunset, all to the tune of Dylan’s classic song. A great way to get your western fix and brush up on your slightly more obscure Dylan canon all at once before he comes to Cornell April 14!

These Days- NicoMy apologies — I’m going Wes Anderson again. This is natural, as in my opinion Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino are the kings of movie soundtracks. This song appears in a scene in Anderson’s film, The Royal Tenenbaums. It plays as (sort of) siblings Margot and Richie Tenenbaum approach each other in slow motion in the street. Nico’s hauntingly lovely melody and deeply soulful and mournful voice perfectly complements the carefully deliberate beauty of the scene. Her style of music lends perfectly to the deep sadness surrounding the Tenenbaum family that does not take itself too seriously. It is one of the more deeply touching scenes in the film, though the root of that emotion is slightly hard to identify as one source: unrequited love? Endless malaise? Too much eye makeup and sweatbands?

The Steward of Gondor- Billy BoydThis song is sung by Pippin to Denethor, the Steward of Gondor in Lord of the Rings- The Return of the King. It is a beautiful, sweetly sad song. The intensity of the scene comes from juxtaposing the song with the terror and vast qualities of the impending battle of good vs. evil. Denethor, a rather repugnant character, is also shown eating in a barbaric and repulsive way. There is a strong ambivalence of emotion associated with this scene; Pippin’s song is lilting and lovely, but is used as a backdrop to glaring orcs and thousands of horses thundering towards doom. At the conclusion of the song, Pippin looks absolutely defeated and hopeless. Such a wide range of conflicting emotions make this scene (and this film) an exciting journey for the audience.

Go out and kill two birds with one stone; scratch the movie itch and the music itch with the same finger! How flexible.

Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy,The Boogie Knights

Original Author: Sarah Finegold

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