The movie business has served up many successful (and sometimes unsuccessful) films whose appeal is given a boost by incorporating popular songs into their soundtracks. In this excerpt from a feature in the September Blitzed, we look at a wide variety of movies that have made good use of a particular song (and sometimes in the most unexpected ways).
DURAN DURAN – A VIEW TO A KILL
One of Duran Duran’s most successful songs, the powerful anthem of ‘A View To A Kill’ was written as the title theme for the James Bond film of the same title.
It reached No. 2 in the UK (and No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100). The song was also the last track recorded by the five-member lineup of Duran Duran until their reunion in 2001.
TEARS FOR FEARS – HEAD OVER HEELS
Taken from their 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair, ‘Head Over Heels’ delivered another hit for Tears For Fears, reaching No. 12 in the UK. The song was later used in the 2001 film Donnie Darko. In fact, the establishing long shots in the film were specifically choreographed to match the track.
Donnie Darko also featured Gary Jules doing a plaintive cover of TFF’s ‘Mad World’ (which reached No. 1 as a single release).
OMD – IF YOU LEAVE
OMD’s collaboration with film director John Hughes served up the lush delights of ‘If You Leave’ . Written for the film Pretty In Pink, OMD had already written another song for the film when the script abruptly changed, forcing a last-minute new composition (The band only had three days to produce the song).
‘If You Leave’ became their best-known song in the US and still forms part of the band’s live set.
DAVID BOWIE – ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS
Julien Temple’s 1950s-set musical outing Absolute Beginners wasn’t a commercial success. However, the 1986 film did serve up an unexpected David Bowie hit single.
As a song, ‘Absolute Beginners’ makes great use of a punchy arrangement (alongside some effective sax elements) coupled with a softer vocal from Bowie. The single reached No. 2 in the UK and it was also a mainstay as a live song on Bowie’s 1987 Glass Spider tour.
BERLIN – TAKE MY BREATH AWAY
It’s tough to imagine Tony Scott’s air combat film without the broody anthem of ‘Take My Breath Away’. Penned by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock for Top Gun and performed by Berlin, it’s another example of a memorable 80s power ballad with Terri Nunn’s soaring vocals front and centre.
The song gave Berlin a UK No. 1 and it also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
a-ha – THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS
Apparently, a-ha and John Barry clashed over the composition of this 1987 Bond theme (The band resented Barry receiving a co-write credit). Despite this, the end result is a taut, brassy delight bursting with lyrical drama.
A single release also gave the Norwegian band a No. 5 UK chart placing. A revised version of the song was later included on the band’s 1988 album, Stay on These Roads.
COLLEGE AND ELECTRIC YOUTH – A REAL HERO
2011 film Drive rapidly became a cult hit, particularly for its soundtrack. Electronic acts Electric Youth and College teamed up to deliver the exquisite ‘A Real Hero’, which is perhaps the film’s best song.
The strength of the song is carried by the laidback approach to arrangement and vocal delivery. Despite its soft tones, the lyrical narrative gives this composition a real punch and delivers a synthwave classic.
Read our full Pop Songs at the Movies feature in the September issue of Blitzed which includes songs by Simple Minds, Iggy Pop, Yello, Blondie, Bauhaus, Queen and more. Pre-order the new issue today: