Skip To Content

    24 TImes Movies Chose The Absolutely Perfect Song To Accompany A Scene

    "VOULEZ-VOUS!"

    Honestly, one of my favorite things about movies are the soundtracks. You know when a song plays in a movie and it literally sends chills down your spine?

    Paramount Pictures

    Here are some of my absolute favorite examples of songs used in films that literally elevated the moment from amazing into absolute perfection:

    1. "Voulez-Vous" by ABBA (covered by the cast of Mamma Mia!) — Mamma Mia!

    Sam asks Sophie how long she's known that he was her father, and Harry also says he's her father, and Sophie looks shocked
    Universal Pictures

    They took a fun ABBA song and made it the most anxiety-inducing song of all time. A lot of the comments on YouTube mention that it feels like a panic attack, and they're right — the lights, quick upbeat music, dialogue, and action all perfectly blend into this pile of stressful chaos (and I mean that in the best way), as Sophie realizes she has three men who think they're her father.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    2. "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler (covered by Jennifer Saunders) — Shrek 2

    the fairy godmother sings "I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night" as the giant gingerbread man breaks into the castle with Shrek
    Dreamworks

    You already know how I feel about this one. It is not only one of the best covers of all time, but also one of the best action sequences of all time, and I'm not being ironic here. The Shrek franchise has a ton of memorable music moments, but this one is just beyond anything in an animated film, TBH.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    3. "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone — Guardians of the Galaxy

    Star-Lord turns on his cassette and sings into a creature like it's a microphone and the title appears on the screen
    Marvel

    You know I had to include this one!! It is simple and comes amid a bunch of other amazing classic songs, but this one is the most iconic of the film for a reason. It perfectly introduces the tone of the film, and it's such a great intro to Star-Lord.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    4. "You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins — Tarzan

    Kala touches her nose to baby Tarzan's head
    Disney

    I wasn't going to include Disney songs on the list — because there's just so many to choose from — but I had to make an exception for this one (as it's only sung for a second in the movie and is mostly a soundtrack piece, I think it counts!). Phil Collins did not need to go THIS hard for the Tarzan soundtrack — he literally wrote one of the most beautiful songs of all time. It has such an amazing message that extends beyond the film, and the scene is beautiful.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    5. "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" by Aerosmith — Mrs. Doubtfire

    20th Century Fox

    If you've never danced around while cleaning and thought of this song, you didn't grow up in the '90s. This was such a a great montage, and honestly, I have never looked at vaccuuming the same way.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    6. "Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong (covered by Cheryl K) — Crazy Rich Asians

    Eleanor is introduced as the new "lady of the house" at the hotel and then the title screen shows up
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    This was already a perfect song to introduce both Eleanor and the film — but covering the classic Motown song in Mandarin?!? Absolutely inspired. It's fun yet old-fashioned, and it sets the tone for the movie so, so well. I literally could not think of a better song to choose.

    You can watch the beginning of the scene at the end of this video:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    7. "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John — 27 Dresses

    20th Century Fox

    Almost everyone has had a memorable drunken karaoke moment with a crush or bestie where you got WAY too into the song. This scene is adorable, relatable, funny, memorable, AND nostalgic — true perfection.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    8. "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger — Risky Business

    Warner Bros.

    This one's just a classic. We've all slid around the house in our socks and sang and danced to our favorite songs. I still do that now, but it'll never be as good as when I was a teenager and my parents were out. The song is also just so much fun and so nostalgic, which really matches the mood.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    9. "The Hanging Tree" by James Newton Howard (featuring Jennifer Lawrence) — The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

    Katniss singing "are you, are you coming to the tree" and the dam breaking
    Lionsgate

    The melody and lyrics are super haunting, but there's still something strangely hopeful about them. The part where Katniss sings is nice, but it's the part with the dam breaking that really solidifies this moment's spot on this list. The rebels fight without regard for their own lives to break down infrastructure that has been used to exploit them, and it's just so powerful.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    10. "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy — Do the Right Thing

    Sal smashing Radio Raheem's radio
    Universal Pictures

    This song plays twice — once in the opening credits and once when Sal and Radio Raheem fight. It starts the film on a powerful note, while also appearing in a much more harrowing moment near the end of the film, but its message fits both times. Sal smashing the speakers while this song was being played made the moment that much more symbolic.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    11. "El Tango de Roxanne" by José Feliciano, Ewan McGregor and Jacek Koman — Moulin Rouge!

    20th Century Fox

    Every song in this musical is amazing, but this tango version of the Police's "Roxanne" has got to be one of the most amazing mashups/covers of all time. It's so intense and sexy while also feeling dangerous and precarious and emotional. Everything about the scene truly comes together, even the break in the song, where we just hear a creepy violin to accompany one of Satine's most terrifying moments.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    12. "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones — The Departed

    Frank says "no one gives it to you – you have to take it" then tells Colin to come by L street if he wants extra money, then later kills a woman and man and says "jeez...she fell funny"
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    This is another film with an amazing soundtrack overall, but I gotta go with "Gimme Shelter" for the most memorable song in it, since it opens the film. It's such a great introduction to Frank's character and the time period and cultural backdrop of the film, both musically and lyrically, and it sets the tone right from the start.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    13. "Jai Ho" by Tanvi Shah/A.R. Rahman — Slumdog Millionaire

    Pathé Distribution

    Can more movies end with a dance scene, please? This song/dance number was SO cool and felt so theatrical and larger-than-life, feeling like a tribute to Bollywood while also fitting perfectly with the film. It was such an amazing celebration of the whole film, and the song is catchy as hell.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    14. "Little Bitty Pretty One" by Bobby Day (covered by Thurston Harris) — Matilda

    Matilda dancing and moving objects and cards around the living room with her mind
    Sony Pictures Releasing

    It's just so damn fun to see Matilda fully use her powers and enjoy herself. With her precocious nature, it's easy to forget how young she is, but in scenes like this, we remember her innocent nature and youth. It's just such a sweet freeing scene (and you're lying if it didn't make you try to use telepathic powers yourself).

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    15. "Jump in the Line (Shake, Señora)" by Harry Belafonte — Beetlejuice

    Warner Bros.

    It's such a jaunty and fun moment and song, and seeing Winona Ryder dance while levitating will just forever be iconic. As with Matilda, it's so nice to just see Lydia enjoy herself. Also, I highly recommend listening to the musical's version of this song — it's equally fun.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    16. "Uptown Girls" by Billy Joel — Trainwreck

    Amy dancing and Aaron smiling
    Universal Pictures

    Maybe I'm biased since I love Billy Joel, but this is truly one of my favorite rom-com scenes. I'm a sucker for big gestures in film, and it was so nice to see Amy make one at the end for Aaron. The mashup and dance was super funny and sweet, but when "Uptown Girl" started, I actually shed a tear. It's meaningful to the couple and the film while also just being a darn good song.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    17. "Super Freak" by Rick James — Little Miss Sunshine

    Fox Searchlight Pictures

    I'll take another "movie scenes that made me laugh and cry at the same time" for 500, Alex! The reveal of Olive's dance (that she learned from her now-dead grandfather) after an entire film devoted to getting her to the pageant has SUCH great hilarious payoff, and then seeing her family join her onstage (especially Dwayne and Frank, whose dancing around onstage was pretty out of character for them) was so sweet and funny.

    Watch the second half of the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    18. "Able" by Pharrell Williams — Hidden Figures

    Katherine running with another worker to drop off the final calculations for John Glenn's launch
    20th Century Fox

    This whole soundtrack is great, but I love this moment because of how it brings the film full circle, especially when you think of Pharrell's "Runnin'" playing when Katharine had to run to find a bathroom on the first day. This time, someone is running for her — and when she runs, it's because she's the most important person to clear this mission. It finally feels like she's being recognized, and it's such a powerful moment — until the door shuts in her face. Luckily, it's only temporary, and we get a nice emotional score as she watches the takeoff.

    Watch the beginning of the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    19. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen (covered by Panic! at the Disco) — Suicide Squad

    Warner Bros. Pictures

    I honestly didn't think anyone was capable of covering this legendary song, but Panic! at the Disco proved me wrong. It's not a particularly noteworthy moment in the film, but it's memorable because of the song, which is such a fun fit for the tone the movie was supposed to have — which was achieved in this brief moment.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    20. "Toxic" by Britney Spears (covered by Anthony Willis) — Promising Young Woman

    Cassie walks to Al's house in her nurse's costume and wig and puts on her red heels
    Focus Features

    THIS IS SUCH A GOOD COVER. It makes the song so much more haunting and creepy while also being sexy and devious. Cassie walked into that house knowing she might not come back out, and that's reflected in this song and her attitude walking in. She's chosen this toxic revenge mission even though she knows it might kill her, and she's fully committed and even almost satisfied with that. SO DAMN GOOD.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    21. "Blackbird" by Nina Simone (covered by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) — Beyond the Lights

    Noni singing Blackbird then flashing back to singing it at the talent show when she was little
    Relativity Media

    Gugu Mbatha-Raw absolutely does not get enough love — she's such a star. The moment in this film when she sings "Blackbird" — echoing her singing it as a child for a talent show in which she placed second, disappointing her mother — is so powerful. Her acting and singing in the scene are so moving, and the song also matches her feelings and story so well.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    22. "The Heat Miser/Cold Miser Song" — The Year Without a Santa Claus

    Cold Miser singing "whatever I touch turns to snow in my clutch, I'm too much!" and Heat Miser singing "whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch, I'm too much!"
    ABC

    Maybe this is a weird one, but honestly, this is my favorite Christmas song. It's SO catchy, and the stop-motion is so fun. Anyone want to dress up as these guys with me for next Halloween?

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    23. "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison — Pretty Woman

    Vivian shopping then telling the girl at the shop "Big mistake. Big. Huge!"
    Buena Vista Pictures

    I'm a sucker for anytime a song plays in a movie that matches the title, and this example is no different. It just fits so perfectly with Vivian's shopping scene — plus, it plays during one of my favorite movie scenes ever, in which Vivian tells off the retail worker for refusing service to her the day prior.

    Watch the scene here (the song starts at 2:25):

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    24. And finally, "Listen" by Beyoncé — Dreamgirls

    Deena singing "you don't know what I'm feeling. I'm more than what you made of me! I followed the voice you think you gave to me!" in the recording studio as Curtis watches
    DreamWorks Pictures

    I honestly think Beyoncé has never been better vocally or acting-wise. This scene is SO POWERFUL, and Beyoncé pours her heart and soul into the song and the scene. It gives Deena so much more of a point of view and makes her a more complicated yet relatable character. I know everyone talks about Jennifer Hudson and "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," and she absolutely deserves that praise, but I feel like we forget how utterly show-stopping Beyoncé proved herself to be once again with this number.

    Watch the scene here:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form