Okay, so I watch American Idol, sue me, but tonight's episode got me thinking. The singers theme this week was to do songs from the movies, and I was overall disappointed with the songs they chose, feeling none of the songs were really great movie songs; they may have been great songs, in general, but to me a great movie song is a song that is so identifiable with that particular movie that you can't think of that movie without thinking of that song. I decided to list some examples of movies and songs that are so well synchronized that you will never be able to hear the song again without the film's images coming into your head.
First, "That Thing You Do!" the title song to the movie, That Thing You Do! It's catchy, played nearly every ten minutes in the movie, and if you don't come away from this movie without at least knowing the chorus, then you have the retention of a rock.
Second, "As Time Goes By" from Casablanca. This song found its way into Max Steiner's magnificent score, becoming not just Rick and Ilsa's song, but also the theme of the entire movie. Words or no words, the notes of the song take me back in time to the 1940s, to Rick's Cafe American, and to Casablanca.
Third, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" from Whisper of the Heart. I'm a Studio Ghibli fanboy, and this particular gem in their catalog would not be the same film without this song. Albeit Miyazaki changed some of the lyrics to make the song have meaning within the film, you also hear the original version during the opening scene and the credits.
Finally, "Singin' in the Rain" from Singin' in the Rain. Enough said.