Moviefone recently produced a list of their top 50 best music scenes in movies (exempting musicals or scores).
I think they made some pretty notable omissions. Here are 10 more, in no particular order.
10. She’s All That
The scene: prom night
There’s nothing new about expertly choreographed dance scenes in movies – but when it’s completely unexpected, it does seem more magical. This was a welcome twist on the obligatory school prom scene, with a tacked-on explanation that it’s the school dance club showing off their moves.
9. The Tall Guy
The scene: Elephant! The Musical
A viciously, hilariously spot-on spoof of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s oeuvre. This musical-within-a-film is based on the life of John “The Elephant Man” Merrick – complete with tasteless lyrics such as “just when I think he’s staying/I find out he’s packing his trunk”.
8. Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life
The scene: Every Sperm Is Sacred
I’m counting Python films as comedies with music, rather than as musicals, and – yes – they’ve written a lot of wonderful songs. It’s the brilliant take on Lional Bart that works so well here – any of the gap-toothed little tykes could have been in Oliver, and it’s only the outlandish lyrics that hint that it isn’t actually a scene from a family musical.
7. The Commitments
The scene: Try A Little Tenderness
I couldn’t find a clip of the famous last song in this expletive-laden and ultimately rather downbeat film about a Dublin soul band. Still, after the painful early rehearsals and even more painful conflicts between the band’s members, the joyful and exhilarating final gig makes it all worth it.
6. Night of the Hunter
The scene: Leaning
Charles Loughton’s only film as director was only really appreciated years after it was made. It’s a beautifully-shot thriller about a serial killer (Robert Mitcham) chasing two young children across the country in pursuit of some stolen loot. The kids find refuge in the home of silent-era veteran Lillian Gish while the creepy fake preacher lurks outside. The tension is ratcheted up as he sings an old hymn, his voice dripping with hypocrisy and menace. The sweet old lady with the pure faith and the shotgun sings back defiantly.
5. Girls Just Want To Have Fun
The scene: Final dance-off
An utterly typical competition-finals scene, but the moves and songs are memorable.
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The scene: Jessica Rabbit’s song
Probably the most memorable character entrance in movie history, everything about this scene is perfect, from Bob Hoskins’ initial confusion (“got a thing for rabbits?”) to the way Jessica’s boobs enter the stage before she does. The music and singing are lovely, the performance mesmerising, and the cutting-edge combination of animation and animatronics are just spectacular.
3. Almost Famous
The scene: Fever Dog
Everyone mentions Tiny Dancer when they talk about Almost Famous, and that scene is great – but this clip is one of the few really authentic-feeling live music scenes I’ve ever seen in a film. Normally – take 10 Things I Hate About You, for instance – people go and see a gig and you have people dressed up as punks or rock stars and then they play this really weak, insipid pop. Stillwater sound like a band I’d pay money to see.
2. Rock Star
The scene: First gig with Steel Dragon
Loosely based on the true story of how tribute band member Tim “Ripper” Owens replaced Rob Halford in Judas Priest, Rock Star does a surprisingly good job of portraying 80s metal concerts. It helps that the band are comprised of members of Foreigner, Black Label Society and Ozzy’s guitarist Zakk Wylde – and that a couple of the key songs are by Norwegian glamsters Steelheart, whose singer provides Mark Wahlberg’s vocals for most of the film. The rest of the soundtrack is by the likes of Mötley Crüe, AC/DC and Kiss, and it’s commendable that the fictional band don’t sound out of place against such well known rock songs.
The scene: duelling anthems
The Nazis in Rick’s bar are singing German songs, much to the annoyance of the locals. Newly resurfaced resistance activist Victor Laszlo – husband of Rick’s former lover – rouses the locals to sing the French national anthem, until it’s loud enough to drown out the Nazi chorus. The mixture of terror and defiance on the faces of the singers is what is so affecting. It made me cry the first time I saw it, and brought a tear to my eye just now.