Road movies and their soundtracks always know how to hit a certain spot in us, one that inspires a longing for the road and a disquieting sense of nostalgia. They remind us of a familiar purgatory environment—in between feeling at home and wanting to discover the world and all its crazy beautiful offerings.
After a wild, yet lonely night, Stillwater and their entourage take to the roads once again. Broken, torn and in dire need of a moment that will weld them all back together, Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” starts playing on the radio….
24. The Jungle Book – “The Bare Necessities” by Baloo and Mowgli
A feel-good song for a feel-good movie! We all loved Mowgli and his jungle friends, Baloo and Bagheera, when we were little, and secretly wished we could live amongst the animals, too.
Now, some forty-seven years since its release, if you ever feel office life and panty hoes getting you down, watch The Jungle Book and just remember the simple bare necessities of life!
23. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life – “Every Sperm is Sacred”
Inspired by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, the Monty Python reunited on stage of London’s O2 this month, complete with silly walks and all. It was a long wait, but so worth it!
With our favorite group of mad men back on tour, we thought it would be fun to remember the best song from their 1983 classic, The Meaning of Life. You know which one we mean … nudge, nudge, say no more!
22. Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo – “Heroes”/“Helde” by David Bowie
In 1979, Christiane F. Met with journalists Kai Hermann and Horst Rieck of the German magazine Stern to share her story of drug addiction, prostitution and desperation with them. Christiane was only thirteen years old when she started using heroin; the product of a broken family, she found release in David Bowie’s music.
In 1981, Ulrich Edel turned her story into a movie. There are only a few happy moments in this film, but our favorite was Christiane and her friends running around an empty mall in the early morning hours to David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
21. Pulp Fiction – “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill
Still buzzing from their night out and their uncomfortable silence, Vince and Mia get back to her house for a nightcap of the special variety. Still wearing Vince’s coat, Mia plays “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” and crazily starts dancing through the living room while Vince tries talking his mirror image into leaving before things get dangerous.
Ready to chill, Mia crashes out on the couch and absentmindedly rummages through Vince’s pockets until she discovers—Hello!—a curious package of powder. Ever the coke-fiend, she fixes herself a line not realizing it’s actually heroin. 20. A Clockwork Orange – Ninth Symphony by Ludwig Van Beethoven
In 1971 Stanley Kubrick shocked the nation by filming Anthony Burgess’s novella A Clockwork Orange, depicting a violent youth culture. Complete with its own language, Nadsat, it tells the story of Alex (Malcom McDowell) and his droogs.
After returning home from a night of “ultraviolence,” Alex gives himself a good dose of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony,” to ensure his evening’s perfect ending. Throughout the film, the contrast between acts of severe violence and rape and the classical music accompanying said scenes has a bizarre impact on the psyche.
19. Human Traffic – “Techno Generation Hymn” by The Human Traffic Cast
We may have mentioned it before, but we’ll say it again: Human Traffic would turn a Hare Krishna into a bad boy! Jip (John Simm), Moff (Danny Dyer) and company make love to music, and believe us—they can go all night!
They are not above coming up with their own lyrics either—lyrics that describe our generation of alienation, techno emergencies and virtual realities in their very own “Techno Generation Hymn.”
18. Trainspotting – “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop
We loved the opening scene to Trainspotting for several reasons: It’s cheeky, it’s dynamic, and it presents us with one of the best monologues throughout the whole movie. You know what we’re talking about! It’s all about the choices we make. So, what’s it going to be? Do you choose life?
With Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” getting us ready for a true, cult classic, we are reminded that we no longer need to choose “sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows”; we’ve got Trainspotting!
17. Hair – “The Age of Aquarius”
Since the first time we saw the musical Hair on film, we have become part of the “tribe” in one way or another; the political issues and personal restrictions presented in this 1967 classic may have changed, but the themes are as present today as they were back then.
Watching George (Treat Williams) and his fellow tribe members, swirling through Central Park in time to meet the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, we can’t help but feel inspired to continue fighting the good fight!
16. American Psycho – “Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis & the News
No matter how gruesome his actions, no matter how benign the topic, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) never seems to be able to wipe that freakish smile off of his face, nor does he ever drop his sales-pitch tone.
Bateman sounds more like he’s trying to sell Paul (Jared Leto) the latest Huey Lewis & the News album “Fore!”, rather than kill the poor guy. But no worries, everything Bateman does he does in style, even butchering people. 15. Stand by Me –“Lollipop” by The Chordettes
Stand by Me might give you the impression of a classic boyhood movie at first, but it goes beyond cheeky teenaged adventures and pukey pie-eating competitions, and this scene proves it.
On their way to see the infamous dead body, Vern (Jerry O’Connell) and Teddy (Corey Feldman) goof around singing along to “Lollipop.” Gordie (Wil Wheaton) and Chris (River Phoenix) hang back to have a serious conversation that makes them sound older than their years.
14. Reservoir Dogs – “Little Green Bag” The George Baker Selection
Be honest—how many times have you walked the streets with a gang of your friends, feeling incredibly cool whilst hearing the tune “Little Green Bag” playing in your head? Yeah, we thought so. And which film do you owe this little fantasy to? Reservoir Dogs, of course!
Seeing several suited, anonymous men take to the street to the sound of The George Baker Selection says it all—these guys are as suave as it gets!
13. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” by Beck
It doesn’t happen too often that we get to see Jim Carrey in a serious role, so when we do, chances are the movie will have double the impact. Watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is like reading Alexander Pope’s Eloise to Abelard—captivating, curious and beautiful.
Seeing Jim Carrey pull anything other than a funny face is already a moment worth noting, but seeing him teary-eyed and vulnerable—that’s enough to get us all reaching for the tissues! This is a moment of great sorrow quietly lulled into a sense of relief, prompted by Beck’s words, “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime.”
12. Kids – “Casper the Friendly Ghost” by Daniel Johnston
Larry Clark’s 1995 film Kids hit us hard on several accounts. Not only was it the most authentic depiction of teenaged life and delinquencies, it also dealt with an important theme in an in-your-face manner, typical of Clark.
When Telly (Leo Fitzpatrik), Casper (Justin Pierce) and the gang get into a silly discussion at the local park, it soon ends up in a full-blown, violent and, above all, unfair fight. However, by using Daniel Johnston’s “Casper the Friendly Ghost” in the background, the scene feels almost normal and regular.
11. Hedwig and the Angry Inch – “Sugar Daddy” by Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Hedwig and the Angry Inch was by far one of the best musical comedy-dramas we’d seen in a long while. The performance is convincing and shrill at times, the soundtrack is incredible, and the play between drama and comedy is just right.
Watching Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell) and her band of angry inches perform “Sugar Daddy” was funny—but excruciatingly so. The entire restaurant is mortified by Hedwig’s show, especially the guy who had his head under her skirt for a few seconds. 10. Strange Days – “Can’t Hardly Wait” by Juliette Lewis
Juliette Lewis rocks the screen as much as she does the stage, and in Strange Dayswe get to see a combo. As the singer Faith Justin, she is trying to fend off her ex, the former LAPD officer Lenny (Ralph Fiennes).
We get to watch Faith make sweet love to her microphone when Lenny comes to see her in the nightclub she’s playing. The scene is so freaking hot, we completely forget about the potential danger she might be in….
9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show – “Sweet Transvestite” by Tim Curry
Whether he’s sweet we’re not entirely sure, but Tim Curry, aka “Frank N. Furter”, sure as hell was the sexiest transvestite we’ve ever seen walk the screen. The 1975 musical comedy/horror film has one of the most epic soundtracks to be revisited time and time again, but our favourite song is without a doubt the “Sweet Transvestite.”
In a pair of killer platform shoes complete with glitter and glitz, Frank N. Furter introduces himself to the nerdy couple Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) as the “sweet transvestite from transsexual, Transylvania”.
8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
We hadn’t really given it that much thought, but if we chose to go out by electrocuting ourselves in the bathtub, we’d probably choose “White Rabbit” as the soundtrack, too. Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) may be completely mad, but he sure has good taste in psychedelic tunes.
Dr. Gonzo’s mescaline-acid-cocaine-uppers-downers-screamers-laughters-tequila-induced freak-out and Raoul Duke’s (Johnny Depp) reaction to it is highlighted by Grace Slick’s order to feed their heads.
7. Fight Club – “Where is my Mind?” by Pixies
Chuck Palahniuk is the man when it comes to twisted storytelling and innovative writing techniques. We were a bit worried about how his 1996 novel Fight Clubwould translate into a movie, but David Fincher couldn’t have done any better.
Any movie that features a Tom Waits song has got to be special, but Fight Club’s most musically impactful moment was right at the very end, when the Pixies start playing “Where Is My Mind?” just as the city comes crashing down before Marla Singer (Elena Bonham-Carter) and The Narrator (Edward Norton).
6. Deathproof – “Down in Mexico” by The Coasters
Suffice to say Tarantino really knows how to choose the women for his movies: they’re all sexy, smart and too cool for school. But there’s one Tarantino chica who really stands out in terms of pure, raw sexuality: Vanessa Ferlito.
With her lap dance in Deathproof, she turned many a straight woman and danced herself into every man’s hopeful dreams. Daaayum, girl! 5. Mulholland Drive – “Llorando” by Rebekah del Rio
Mulholland Drive is one of David Lynch’s most memorable movies on several accounts. Moving between a world of dreams and alternate realities, it was described by A. O Scott of The New York Times as “an intoxicating liberation from sense, with moments of feeling all the more powerful for seeming to emerge from the murky night world of the unconscious.”
Lynch is an artist in every sense of the word and his own fascination for music makes itself present in all of his movies. His films and series are always marked by key songs such as Julee Cruise’s “Falling” (Twin Peaks), Trent Reznor’s “Driver Down” (Lost Highway) and, in Mulholland Drive, Rebekah del Rio’s “Llorando.”
4. Holy Motors – “Let my Baby Ride” by R.L Burnside
There is absolutely nothing ordinary about Holy Motors. Every moment spent following Mr. Oscar’s (Denis Lavant) every move promises a new surprise. Especially the scene where Mr. Oscar appears playing an accordion.
It feels more like an interlude rather than a part of the plotline, but the energy of “Let my Baby Ride” being performed by at least ten accordionists and various other musicians led by Mr. Oscar is truly indescribable.
3. Wayne’s World – “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
This is another one for all you nineties kids! We were all dead impressed with the opening credits of Wayne’s World, when Wayne (Mike Myers) puts a tape of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” on in the car.
Much like an incredibly stoned, hard-rock version of Queen, Wayne and his friends sing along en route to their next adventures.
2. Trainspotting – “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed
There are so many memorable scenes in Trainspotting, including the charming toilet dive and spider-baby Dawn. None of them were quite as moving as Mark Renton’s (Ewan McGregor) overdose and his newfound affection for his dealer’s carpet.
Everything about this scene fits together perfectly: Lou Reed’s voice and the overall depressing vibe floating amidst the backdrop of a blue-lipped junkie being dragged out into Kingdom Estate, on a miserable, grey, Edinburgian “Perfect Day.”
1. Pulp Fiction – “Misirlou” by Fred Wise, Milton Leeds, S.K Russell, Nicholas Dick Dale & His Del-Tones Roubanis
Pumpkin and Honey Bunny must be the most gangster couple since Bonnie and Clyde. We can literally see them getting off on the idea of robbing the diner they are in, and when they finally take to the tables we are surprised to see that little Miss Honey Bunny is not half as delicate as she looks.
Since the release of Pulp Fiction in 1994, we are incapable of having lunch in a diner without thinking of this scene and excitedly humming the tune of “Misirlou.”
There are plenty more movies we would have loved to add to this list, but unfortunately we were unable to find videos. Requiem for a Dream and Clint Mansell’s “Tense/Beginning of the End,” Run Lola Run and Franka Potente & Thomas D.’s “I Wish,” and of course Natural Born Killers and Bob Dylan’s “You Belong to Me”—you were not forgotten!