With Edith Piaf's Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien getting a lot of listens over the past few weeks due to Inception's popularity, it seemed as good a time as any to look back at some of the other old songs that have been given a new lease on life after they appeared in a popular film. I thought it might be a bit of a challenge to come up with seven of these, but the opposite proved to be true -- I wound up with so many potential titles that I had to make some really tough choices to narrow it down.
Was a young Tom Cruise charming enough with his rendition of You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' from Top Gun to make the cut? Did American Psycho's Patrick Bateman reinvigorate Sussudio in the film's oddball and disturbing threesome scene? And did Beetlejuice make The Banana Boat Song any less annoying when possessed dinner guests got groovy to the music?
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Edith Piaf's Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien from Inception
Seems only fair to include the film that inspired the list on the list. With that in mind, this 1960 track performed by Edith Piaf (English translation: No, I Regret Nothing) has been covered and re-recorded numerous times over the years. It's used often in Inception, both in its original form and slowed down dramatically for an entirely different effect by composer Hans Zimmer. I suspect many people weren't familiar with the track a month ago, but now it's a hot topic of discussion as film fans work to unravel the intricate mysteries of Nolan's latest creation. It's also worth noting that Marion Cotillard, who plays Cobb's wife Mal in Inception also played Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose.
Michael Crawford and Marianne McAndrew's It Only Takes a Moment from Wall-E
It's hard to imagine Andrew Stanton's Wall-E without the two key tracks from Hello Dolly that figure so prominently -- and perfectly -- in the narrative, but it's worth noting that the filmmaker only discovered It Only Takes a Moment and Put on Your Sunday Clothes after he scrapped his original choices. Both tracks are perfect for the film about a lonely robot looking for love and companionship, but It Only Takes a Moment seems the most perfect of the two. The duet by Michael Crawford and Marianne McAndrews is fitting. Stanton points out that the Hello Dolly footage shows the characters holding hands, which is the same way Wall-E expresses his emotions when with the object of his affection in the film. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the song is sweet and romantic. It Only Takes a Moment may not have cracked the top 40 after appearing in the film, but it certainly gained a lot of new fans.
The Knack's My Sharona from Reality Bites
My Sharona, the catchy first single from The Knack was a big hit back in 1979 -- spending six weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts and landing at #1 on the Year End chart as well. My Sharona never really faded into obscurity -- it featured a riff that was way too infectious for that -- but it did experience a resurgence in popularity after it was featured in Ben Stiller's 1994 Gen X romantic dramedy Reality Bites. The film, which starred Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder, and the song were a hit with a generation just coming of age. When My Sharona was re-released as a single off the soundtrack, it once again entered the Billboard Top 100, although this time it only peaked at #91. In an interesting bit of unrelated trivia, apparently Quentin Tarantino wanted to use this song for the basement scene with Ving Rhames, Bruce Willis and Zed in Pulp Fiction. Too funny.
The Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody from Ghost
I'm still sort of surprised that Ghost -- the romantic drama starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze -- was such a hit. I guess at least part of the success comes thanks to the use of The Righteous Brothers' version of popular song Unchained Melody. The track was played while Moore and Swayze make pottery in the most
Stealers Wheel's Stuck in the Middle from Reservoir Dogs
Quentin Tarantino could have populated this entire list. Not only does the filmmaker have a talent for taking forgotten stars and making them relevant again, he does the same thing for songs. Choosing one piece of music from his body of work was a challenge, but I ultimately went with the Stealers Wheel single Stuck in the Middle. This track first became popular back in 1972. The single sold over a million copies and landed at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. And while it didn't re-enter the charts after its memorable appearance in Tarantino's tale of a heist gone bad, there's no denying that people think of the song differently after seeing Reservoir Dogs. It's impossible to hear the lyrics and music without thinking of Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) dancing about before making his kidnapped cop into a modern day Vincent Van Gogh.
Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World from Good Morning, Vietnam
It's no surprise that a film about an Armed Forces Radio DJ (Adrian Cronauer -- played by Robin Williams) working during the Vietnam War would feature a lot of cool music. However, the song that was most remembered for appearing in Barry Levinson's comedy-drama was Louis Armstrong's version of What a Wonderful World. The slow and sentimental song plays over a montage of bombing and mayhem, providing an ironic counterpoint to the onscreen action. Released originally in 1968, the song didn't fare well thanks to poor promotion. It became a hit when it was re-released in 1971, after the performer's passing and then charted again in 1988 when it was used in this film. In the intervening years, it's become something of a standard -- covered by a variety of different groups -- my favorites being the Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan, and Joey Ramone versions.
Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody from Wayne's World
I don't like Wayne's World -- I always thought it was a stupid movie based on a terrible Saturday Night Live skit -- and if you go back and look at the film or the skit today, it hasn't aged well at all. However, there's one reason to respect this film: it made Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody popular with a whole new generation of fans. The scene with Wayne and Garth lip-synching along to it in their crappy car is one of the few moments where Wayne's World actually manages to become something more than a mediocre comedy -- and it's not because Mike Myers and Dana Carvey are funny. It's because the song is so damn good. Released originally in 1975, this rock opera track was a huge success in the UK, where it topped the charts for nine weeks. On this side of the pond, it hit #9 in 1976, then landed at #2 after appearing in Wayne's World.