As recent movies like Top Gun: Maverick have proven, the perfect needle-drop can elevate a scene to the absolute pinnacle of cinematic excellence. Popular music and movies have always been a winning combination, and the annals of film history are filled with some of the best audiovisual pairings imaginable.
Whether it is heartbreaking songs like “Crash Into Me” or amped-up jams like “Modern Love”, almost every great song has been included on a film soundtrack at some point. Though great needle-drops are abundant, users on Reddit logged on to shout out their absolute favorite songs used in movies.
10 “Bellbottoms” By The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Baby Driver (2017)
The action-packed comedy Baby Driver was celebrated for its great soundtrack, and it seemed as if every scene was packed with amazing needle drops. User patricknotswayze called out a particular song when saying “‘Bellbottoms’ by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in the opening of Baby Driver is pretty great”.
With a slow building tension and in-your-face guitar, the song is the perfect way to introduce the film and sets the tone for the rest of the story. Though many fans might not have recognized the somewhat obscure alternative ’90s tune, it eventually ended up on many playlists after it appeared in Baby Driver.
9 “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gansta” By Geto Boys – Office Space (1999)
Music doesn’t necessarily have to be used for its original intention, and Office Space used its music for a hilarious juxtaposition. User awoods5000 ranked a certain Office Space music choice highly when writing “Office Space – ‘Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta’ is easily still in the top 5 movie needle drops of all time”.
Generally considered one of the funniest movies of the ’90s, a big part of Office Space‘s humor is just how out of place everything is. A film about straight-laced office workers breaking away is accompanied by a wealth of amazing hip hop from the era, and it is always hilarious to see the music play over their mundane civil disobedience.
8 “Perfect Day” By Lou Reed – Trainspotting (1996)
Danny Boyle’s dour dramedy Trainspotting featured one of the best soundtracks of the decade and continues to woo fans to this day. User xxmikekxx was still impressed with the film when commenting “‘Perfect Day’ in Trainspotting blew my mind as a youth”.
Lou Reed’s dirge-like song about a happy and pleasant day underscores some of the movie’s darkest moments. Considering the artist’s own troubles with addiction, it was most likely intentional that the song was so prominently used in a film about that subject. While the movie is still warmly regarded, its use of music is what has truly stood the test of time.
7 “Rubber Biscuit” By The Chips – Mean Streets (1973)
Director Martin Scorsese is known for his great needle-drops, and Mean Streets was one of the earliest examples of his musical prowess. User Orrgo didn’t hold back when they said “‘Rubber Buscuit’ over drunk Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets is my favorite”.
The nonsense classic “Rubber Biscuit” was used to utter perfection to illustrate the deteriorated mindset of Harvey Keitel’s character as he makes a fool of himself while hopped up on booze. Music in Scorsese films is often incidental, but there was an obvious intention with the use of The Chips’ obscure hit.
6 “Sometimes” By My Bloody Valentine – Lost In Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola’s indie smash hit Lost In Translation managed to capture a feeling that many films can’t quite reach, and a large part of its tone was the music. A deleted user had an emotional connection with a certain needle-drop when saying “‘Sometimes’ by My Bloody Valentine during Lost In Translation. That’s when I knew that I was fully locked in with that movie”.
The hazy shoegaze sound of My Bloody Valentine is the perfect reflection of the foggy loneliness that shrouds the entire film. The vagueness of the lyrics matches the vagueness of the longing of the two main characters, and it feels as if the song was penned exclusively for the film even though it wasn’t.
5 “A Quick One While He’s Away” By The Who – Rushmore (1998)
The music of legendary British rockers The Who have been featured in many movies and TV shows, but few had the same finesse as Wes Anderson’s breakout hit Rushmore. User BariFan410 mentioned the film when they said “I think one of the best combos of scene and needle drop is “A Quick One While He’s Away” in Rushmore“.
Not one of The Who’s biggest hits, the song is nevertheless a whirlwind ride of unique instrumentation and lyrics that saw a stretching of the band’s technique. When matched with the quirky and off-beat tone of Rushmore, the song takes on additional meaning as it underscores Max’s impossible quest for love with his much older teacher.
4 “Crash Into Me” By The Dave Mathews Band – Lady Bird (2017)
Capturing nostalgia for a recent bygone era, Lady Bird was very particular with its late-’90s to early-’00s needle-drops as well. User vapourlomo praised a particular Lady Bird needle-drop when they exclaimed “Oooh yes ‘Crash Into Me’ worked so well in Lady Bird!”
Already a played-out song by the film’s setting of 2002, Lady Bird completely recontextualizes the faded hit. Originally a melodramatic song about sexual fantasy, the song is transformed into a shield with which Lady Bird protects herself from the harsh realities of her life as a teen. Avoiding the cheap nostalgia-bait of other films and TV shows, the movie opted to show life as it really was and not what it was remembered to be.
3 “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” By David Bowie – Inglourious Basterds (2009)
David Bowie’s music has often been used in movies and TV, but its appearance in the revisionist action film Inglourious Basterds was one of the unique. User artificialnocturnes summed up their needle-drop pick when they said “‘Cat People’ by Bowie in Inglourious Basterds is a really thrilling needle drop taking you into the final showdown”.
Originally penned for a movie of the same name, Inglourious Basterds uses all of its overwhelming bravado to underscore an amazing action sequence. Though the use of the lyrics are a bit on the nose, it helps the scene capture that over-the-top energy that Quentin Tarantino is known for.
2 “Don’t Stop Me Now” By Queen – Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Music can help to make a movie-going audience feel all sorts of emotions, and in Shaun of the Dead, that emotion was joy and laughter. User TheChainLink2 was succinct with their thoughts when they said “‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen in Shaun of the Dead“.
After their barricaded pub is infiltrated by zombies, the Queen hit suddenly begins blaring over the jukebox as the heroes battle the undead. The use of the song as the diegetic sound made it all the funnier as characters acknowledge how out of place it seems to play over their deadly battle.
1 “Modern Love” By David Bowie – Frances Ha (2012)
Sometimes the simplest uses of songs in movies is the best, and Frances Ha went as simplistic as possible with its perfect needle-drop. User cactusfalcon96 didn’t have much to say when writing “‘Modern Love’ Frances Ha”.
Starring Greta Gerwig, the indie sensation told the story of a young woman attempting to make a life for herself as a dancer in New York City. The movie is somewhat scant with music until the very end when “Modern Love” underscores a brilliant sequence of Frances running down the street. Bowie’s ’80s megahit has been used before, but Frances Ha managed to imbue it with additional meaning through its clever placement.
NEXT: The 10 Most Overused Songs In Movies & TV, According To Reddit