Songs associated with films often become big chart hits. But occasionally we get a song becoming a hit and standing the test of time even though the film itself didn’t. Here’s my entirely arbitrary top ten list.
10) Smash Mouth – ‘All Star’ from Mystery Men (1999)
If ‘All Star’ is associated with any film nowadays it is Shrek, as it is used in the opening credits of the first film. But the film it was originally taken from was Mystery Men, a spoof of superhero films, and the cast even appear in the video. In the end though the film failed to take off, while the song became one of Smash Mouth’s biggest hits, second only to ‘Walkin’ On The Sun’.
9) Giorgio Moroder & Philip Oakey – ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ from Electric Dreams (1984).
This collaboration between The Human League’s frontman Philip Oakey and producer Giorgio Moroder, who produced such tracks as ‘Call Me’ by Blondie, ‘I Feel Love’ by Donna Summer and ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin, is regarded as an ’80s classic. It ended up being a big hit, but the film it was written especially for, Electric Dreams didn’t fare so well. It was a sci-fi rom com involving a love triangle between a man, a woman and a computer. Yes, really. Clips from the film feature in the video, making it all even more ’80s with the yachts, legwarmers and most of all the old fashioned computers and graphics used.
8) Aaliyah – ‘Try Again’ from Romeo Must Die (2000)
Aaliyah had quite a long music career for someone who died so young, but her film career was just beginning before her tragic death in 2002. Many remember her final film role was as Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned, and she was due to star in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as Zee, as well as in Honey, and was rumoured to have been offered a part in Scary Movie at some point. But her first film role was in Romeo Must Die, which was retelling of the Romeo & Juliet story with gangs and families of different races. Aaliyah played the ‘Juliet’ to Jet Li’s ‘Romeo’. The film itself had a mixed response, but Aaliyah’s song from the film ‘Try Again’ went on to be her biggest hit, making number 1 in the US.
7) En Vogue – ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)’ from Set It Off (1996)
Classy soulful ’90s R&B girl group En Vogue scored their biggest international hit with ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)’, which made number 5 in the UK and number 2 in the US. The song is still played on radio stations nowadays, but the film it was written for Set It Off isn’t very well known. It’s about four women who take part in a bank robbery if you’re wondering.
6) Lisa Loeb – ‘Stay (I Missed You)’ from Reality Bites (1994)
Lisa Loeb hit number 1 in the US charts with this acoustic ballad before she had even signed a record contract, becoming the first person to have that distinction. The song is very 1990s, but it is has dated much, much better than the film it was taken from. Reality Bites (even the title is slang which has long since fallen out of fashion) was a film focusing on being a middle class 20-something Generation Xer in the early ’90s, so it… isn’t exactly timeless, put it that way.
5) Madonna – ‘Crazy For You’ from Vision Quest (1985)
This lovely pop ballad is well known as one of Madonna’s early hits, but nowadays few even know it was originally a film theme. The film in question was Vision Quest, which is about an 18-year-old wrestler who falls in love with an older woman. The song completely overshadowed the film to the extent that in the UK and Australia film was re-titled Crazy For You when it was released there.
4) Wheatus – ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ from Loser (2000)
This track shows that you can make a song about teen angst and unrequited love and have fun with it at the same time, which is probably why it became so popular. What’s unusual about it though is that most people know it’s from a film, they just think it’s from the wrong film. Because of Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari appearing in the video and the comedy “guy wanting to get laid” storyline a lot of people think it’s from American Pie, or one of the sequels. It was actually from Loser, which became an apt name as it was a box office flop.
3) All Saints – ‘Pure Shores’ from The Beach (2000)
‘Pure Shores’, produced by William Orbit, was one of All Saints biggest hits, regarded as one of the best songs from 2000 and still sounds good today. In stark contrast the film it was taken from The Beach was critically panned and seen as one of director Danny Boyle’s disappointing follow-ups to Trainspotting.
2) Coolio feat. LV – Gangsta’s Paradise from Dangerous Minds (1995)
This song has sold over 5 million copies and counting, was a chart topper in both the UK and the US, and even the “Weird Al” Yancovic parody ‘Amish Paradise’ is quite well known. Clips of the film appear in the music video, and the film’s star Michelle Pfeiffer filmed some scenes with Coolio especially for the video. Although the film has largely faded from the public memory, Dangerous Minds was actually a box office hit when released, and even inspired a TV series. It was based on the autobiography of ex-U.S Marine LouAnne Johnson who became a teacher in a school located in an area full of drug abuse and gang wars.
1) Goo Goo Dolls – ‘Iris’ from City of Angels (1998)
The film City Of Angels starring Nicholas Cage as a Guardian Angel falling in love with Meg Ryan playing… that part she always plays, is rarely bought up these days. But the song ‘Iris’, a big windswept guitar ballad was a massive radio favourite in the US when it was released, and it has charted in the UK no less than 5 times, (in 1998, 1999, 2006, 2011 and 2013), peaking at number 3.