Top 10 Songs That Gained Popularity Through Their Use in Movies



Top 10 Songs That Gained Popularity Through Their Use in Movies

VOICE OVER: Samantha Clinch WRITTEN BY: Jesse Singer
These songs owe much of their popularity to the movies. For this list, we'll be looking at songs that either became popular after being used in a film or were popular before and found a second wave of popularity after appearing in a movie. Our countdown includes "Stayin' Alive," "All Star," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and more!

Top 10 Songs That Gained Popularity Through Their Use in Movies

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Songs That Gained Popularity Through Their Use in Movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at songs that either became popular after being used in a film or were popular before and found a second wave of popularity after appearing in a movie.

Which songs did you discover through movies? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “(I've Had) The Time of My Life”
“Dirty Dancing” (1987)

Probably the two most iconic things to come out of “Dirty Dancing,” and inject themselves into the popular culture, is the demand to never put Baby in a corner and “The Lift.” Which is completed successfully in the final, “(I've Had) The Time of My Life” dance number. Would the song have been a hit sans the movie? Maybe. But there’s no doubting the fact that its use in the film, especially during such an iconic moment, raised its profile and popularity to another level. A great example of this came in the U.K. when the song reached number six on the charts after the film’s release. And four years later, it went back up to number eight following the movie showing on television.

#9: “Stayin’ Alive”
“Saturday Night Fever” (1977)

“Stayin’ Alive” was a huge hit for the Bee Gees, and might be their most recognizable song. But did you know it wasn’t even the first single released off of the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack album? That honor went to “How Deep Is Your Love.” However, after the movie trailer came out with the song playing over that famous opening scene, fans started calling radio stations and record companies asking for “Stayin’ Alive.” It was only then that the song became the next single, a month after the album’s release.

#8: “Unchained Melody”
“Ghost” (1990)

“Unchained Melody” was written for a 1955 prison movie called “Unchained” - hence the song’s title. And there have been over 1,500 recordings of the track since then. Including the 1965 version by ​​The Righteous Brothers, which had become one of the most recognizable versions, even before making its appearance in “Ghost.” Although released as a B-side track, the song became a hit and reached number four on the Billboard charts. Cut to 25 years later and “Ghost” becomes a hit and the highest-grossing film of the year. And “Unchained Melody” rides that wave right back onto the charts. In fact, The Righteous Brothers recorded a new version of the song that year and both versions ended up in the top 20 at the same time!

#7: "Eye of the Tiger"
“Rocky III” (1982)

“Rocky III” made “Eye of the Tiger” a huge hit, but the song never even would have been written had Queen not said “no.” You see, Sylvester Stallone, the writer, director, and star of the film originally wanted to use Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” as the movie’s theme song. But the band said no, so Sly went to Survivor and asked them to write a song for the movie. And so “Eye of the Tiger” was born and was released as a single the day after the movie hit theaters. The song would go on to spend six consecutive weeks atop the Billboard charts and 15 weeks in a row in the top 10.

#6: “Moon River”
“Breakfast at Tiffany's” (1961)

“Moon River” was composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer and was written specifically for Audrey Hepburn to sing in “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” Mancini and Mercer looked back on songs she had sung in 1957's “Funny Face” and took her limited range into account when they wrote “Moon River” and it became a classic American standard. And the song didn’t just strike a chord with movie lovers, as it went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also won over music fans, taking home Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

#5: “All Star”
“Shrek” (2001)

“All Star” was the lead single from Smash Mouth’s second album, 1999’s “Astro Lounge.” The song was a hit and reached high up on music charts around the world. It even garnered the band a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The song gained further popularity that year with its inclusion in the film “Mystery Men.” Then, just two years later in 2001, it was used in the opening credits of “Shrek.” Which, as the band’s bassist, Paul DeLisle wrote in his 2015 memoir, was “inarguably the single most profound event in [Smash Mouth] history.”

#4: “Kiss Me”
“She’s All That” (1999)

In August of 1998, Sixpence None the Richer released their song “Kiss Me” and in November of that same year, it broke through onto the Billboard Hot 100 at 90. The following week, it fell out of the top 100. But months later in February of 1999, it re-entered the charts at 91 and over the next 11 weeks worked its way up to number two. What happened you ask? “She’s All That” happened. Not only did the film teach us that all a girl needs to do to be hot is take off her glasses and let her hair down, but it also made “Kiss Me” a hit song.

#3: “Don't You (Forget About Me)”
“The Breakfast Club” (1985)

The song became a number one hit for Simple Minds, but not only did they not write it, they didn’t even want to record it. The song was written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff - a producer on “The Breakfast Club” and a rock guitarist respectively. They wrote it with Simple Minds in mind, but the band turned down the offer the first time around. However, when a number of other artists turned down the gig the band finally said yes, but had no expectation that it or the film would be anything special. Well, they were wrong on both counts. Even when the song is used in other films, the connection to “The Breakfast Club” is often still part of the iconography.

#2: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Wayne's World” (1992)

It isn’t quite cat territory, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen has had an impressive four lives since its birth back in 1975. The song was a hit upon its release and hung out atop the UK music charts for nine weeks. Then in 1991, following the sad death of Freddie Mercury the song had a second life hitting the top of the charts for another five weeks. In the United States, the song had reached number nine on the charts back in 1976. But after 1992’s “Wayne’s World,” the song not only rocked the charts again, but it Scaramouched its way all the way up to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. And yes, after the 2018 Queen biopic, the song popped again.

“See You Again,” “Furious 7” (2015)
The Song, Written to Honor Paul Walker, Spent 12 Non-Consecutive Weeks at Number One

“Gangsta's Paradise,” “Dangerous Minds” (1995)
Two Things Everyone Remembers from the Movie: “Gangsta’s Paradise” & Michelle Pfeiffer

“Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Risky Business” (1983)
Tom Cruise Slid Across the Floor & Made This Song a Hit Again

“Oh Yeah,” “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” (1986)
It Fit “Ferris Bueller” So Perfectly You Probably Thought It Was Written for the Movie

“Mrs. Robinson,” “The Graduate” (1967)
A Song That Seduced Audiences Everywhere

#1: “I Will Always Love You”
“The Bodyguard” (1992)

While everyone knows “I Will Always Love You” as the Whitney Houston song from the movie “The Bodyguard,” the track actually had a whole other life before Whitney got her hands on it. Written and Recorded in 1973 by Dolly Parton, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1974. And it did it again when Parton re-recorded the track for the film “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” As impressive a feat as that was, it was Houston’s version from “The B​​odyguard” that sent the song into the history books. The song spent 14 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and became the best-selling single by a female ever. And weeeeeeeeeee will always love this song.