Songs Made Popular From Film Soundtracks

Josh Carvel explores some of the best songs that have been made popular from film soundtracks: the newest addition to our music features.


‘Real Hero’ (Drive)

The Drive soundtrack made it big in 2011 and ‘Real Hero’ was one of the key songs. Who would have thought that so many people would end up listening to this collaboration between a little-known French electronica artist and an obscure Canadian electro-pop band? Anyway, the opening track ‘Nightcall’ is the other highlight from this soundtrack, mainly because it helped to provide one of the coolest opening title sequences ever.

‘Misirlou’ (Pulp Fiction)

Quentin Tarantino’s soundtracks are the stuff of legend, making Pulp Fiction an obvious choice for this list, and pretty much any cut from the soundtrack would do. This instantly recognisable track  was popular back in 1962, when king of surf rock Dick Dale recorded it, but it definitely wouldn’t be this popular without Tarantino’s magic touch. And as we all know, Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’ and Urge Overkill’s cover of ‘Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon’ are also well worth checking out… not forgetting ‘Jungle Boogie’ by Kool & The Gang, of course.

Tiny Dancer (Almost Famous)

Yes, this Elton John song would have managed OK without being featured in that bus scene from ‘Almost Famous’, but it probably didn’t hurt it being featured in such a great movie. If you haven’t seen ‘Almost Famous’, you should most certainly stop whatever you are doing right now and watch it. Less essential, but similarly beneficial, would be going onto YouTube to watch John Frusciante singing the song at a variety of Red Hot Chili Peppers shows.

Immigrant Song (School of Rock)

Again, a huge song without the movie, but it fitted in so perfectly to School of Rock that it deserves to be remembered again here. Jack Black begged Zeppelin to let them use the song for the movie, and you can see why. Amongst dozens of other songs featured in the soundtrack, this was one of them which really stuck. One of Black’s films which actually is not awful, make sure you check it out.

Mad World (Donnie Darko)

There was a time when it seemed like you couldn’t leave the house without hearing this song – a Tears for Fears cover used in everybody’s favourite cult film: Donnie Darko. I feel that this could be the quintessential example of a song that has made it big from a movie soundtrack. That may well be because I have forgotten about a lot of other good examples.

Check out The Killing Moon by Echo & the Bunnymen from this huge OST too.

Where is My Mind (Fight Club)

Coolest film ending ever? Yes, it probably is. What would Fight Club have been without this 1988 cut from Pixies’ ‘Surfer Rosa’? Not quite as awesome, that’s what. And a lot fewer people would have heard of Pixies, for sure.

New Slang (Garden State)

Probably not a huge number of people have actually seen Zach Braff’s debut film Garden State, but those that did most likely went off and listened to ‘New Slang’ repeatedly, expecting it to change their life as Natalie Portman claims it will in the film. James Mercer’s band have got a little bigger since then, but this song still stands as an indie classic. Braff’s new film will be coming out soon and it will probably feature loads more lovely songs just waiting to be mused over in teenagers’ bedrooms.

Miss Misery (Good Will Hunting)

I’ll finish here with this track from the wonderful Elliott Smith, which featured in the closing credits to Good Will Hunting. The song picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song in 1998, and catapulted the little-known Portland songster into the limelight, culminating in a surreal but beautiful performance from Smith at the Oscars ceremony. Director and fellow Portland resident Gus van Sant used a lot of Smith’s songs for the film, and it makes a great film that much better. Incidentally, I advise checking out Smith’s cover of the Beatles’ ‘Because’, which plays at the end of the similarly brilliant ‘American Beauty’.

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