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The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

The Grace Space: Great Songs that Make Great Movies Even Greater

    Two of my favorite things in this world are film and music.

    Funnily enough, these two artistic mediums are often utilized together, leading to an even greater and more fantastic showcase of beauty and elegance in our society. While there have been times when I have associated my own ideas about songs with film, there are a great number of great film soundtracks already that make the film and often the music. Below, I have complied some of my favorite film songs; hope you find some to enjoy and love yourself!

    David Bowie, “A Space Oddity” in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (2013)

    The newest film on my list also holds the song that has been the most largely stuck in my head (since seeing the film on Christmas Day, that is). The song comes about when our protagonist Walter (Ben Stiller) is nervously trying to decide his next move: join a drunken pilot in Greenland to continue to try to find photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) or not risk death. As the time he has ticks by, he imagines his crush Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) singing “A Space Oddity,” which convinces him to continue on.

    The rest of the soundtrack for the film, including songs by Arcade Fire and Of Monsters and Men, is pretty stellar as well, but Wiig’s rendition of the classic Bowie song can lighten up any day.

    Stevie Wonder, “Superstition” in “The Thing” (1982)

    For my Horror film class this past quarter, I watched “The Thing” for my final paper—and boy, did “Superstition” get stuck in my head for weeks after. The song, played near the beginning of the film, before anything truly horrendous occurs, gives the audience a sense of foreshadowing that is often not fully realized until a later viewing of the film. Regardless of its imperative use for foreshadowing, the song allows us to dance along with Nauls (T.K. Carter) and enjoy the beauty of the song before the thing goes onto pretty much (SPOILER) kill everyone.

    Public Enemy, “Fight the Power” in “Do the Right Thing” (1989)

    Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” is probably one of my favorite films—and, from start to finish, Lee does not skimp on proving how awesome “Public Enemy” is and how useful they are in this story of “post-racial” America. Interestingly enough, the song was conceived specifically for this film, which makes me even more pleased with it. Seeing Tina (Rosie Perez) punch the air to the song in the beginning of the film, we know that Lee—and the film—is not going to be skimping on the punches. The fact that the song is basically the anthem of Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) gives it even more of an emotional tone, and allows us to understand how imperative it truly is to “Fight the Power.”

    Hall & Oates, “You Make My Dreams” in “500 Days of Summer” (2009)

    Although this film always makes me question the concept of love and relationships in the 21st century, it also always reminds me of how great this song is. The classic Hall and Oates’s number is featured with an impressive dance sequence after Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has sealed the deal (at least sexually) with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). Even though we realize later on that this relationship is not going to last, the dance sequence is so cute and perfectly put-together that we enjoy the illusion that Tom has subjected himself to.

    The other hits on the soundtrack, including “Us” by Regina Spektor and “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, are also stuck in our minds after seeing this film for the zillionth time, but I think that “You Make My Dreams” just oozes so much more emotion from its audience, and provides us with a semi-sly commentary on the notions of dream relationships versus realistic ones.

    Frou Frou, “Let Go” in “Garden State” (2004)

    If you ever need a good cry, you can easily—and eloquently—subject yourself to one via the trailer for Zach Braff’s 2004 film “Garden State.” Frou Frou’s “Let Go” gives us melancholy and beauty all wrapped up in 4 minutes and 13 seconds, allowing us to real the pain of Andrew Largeman (Braff) while also feeling incredibly in-tune with his uncertainty. This film, another one of my favorites, is heightened in emotion by the song, and causes its audience (especially those in their early to mid-20s) to feel as though someone understands that uncertainty, even if they don’t have an answer. As Braff said, he felt that the music he selected for the film was like “scoring my life at the time I was writing the screenplay”—heck, maybe we should just all follow his lead and jam to some Frou Frou while figuring out the Great Unknown.

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