The 14 Best Uses Of Rock Songs In Movies

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Song: “Heroes” – David Bowie

Why it’s so unforgettable? Used in the film twice. In the same place. As the trio drive through the scenic tunnel. The first scene with the song introduces the group’s taste in odd songs. Then it returns.

After the tunnel scene, the group begins to split at the seams, leading to Charlie’s (Logan Lerman) mental breakdown and recovery. He meets back up with his friends before they are split forever. So they take one last drive through the tunnel. The song comes back. In its fantastical mysticism, David Bowie’s “Heroes” resonates to anyone’s emotional core in this, the best scene from the film and a beautiful ending to a beautiful film.


6. Easy Rider

The Song: “Born to be Wild” – Steppenwolf

Why it’s unforgettable? It’s one of the redeeming qualities of this psychedelic cult-classic oddity of the 60s. The song goes with the opening credits and showing Captain America (Peter Fonda) and Billy the Kid (Dennis Hopper) riding wild, like they were born to.

The song fits perfectly into becoming a counterculture song for a counterculture film. The lyrics become work to almost tell the film’s plot. 


5. Apocalypse Now

The Song: “The End” – The Doors

Why it’s so unforgettable? This mystical ballad to…matricide? death? Still don’t know…opens an equally mystical ballad film to horror? The horror, the horror? Anyway they go together beautifully in this explosive opening.

The softness yet haunting scale of Jim Morrison’s voice in the opening lyric “this is the end / my only friend” plays along to the scene of the Vietnam jungle lighting up. “The End” played to the beginning of Apocalypse Now shows that its all f**ked up from here. 


4. Reservoir Dogs

The Song: “Stuck in the Middle with You” – Stealers Wheel

Why it’s so unforgettable? Maybe because it’s one of those songs and scenes that changed the film in a second. Going from a quirky, somewhat violent caper that doesn’t show the caper, to being very violent and tense as beef jerkey, Reservoir Dogs changed this classic 70’s goof-off song for the best. And worse.

To this day many people can’t stop thinking about that poor cops ear whenever they hear those bouncy acoustic chords playing. Why oh why Tarantino chose this song for that scene is a true mystery. 


3. GoodFellas

The Song: “Layla” – Eric Clapton

Why it’s so unforgettable? In the last half of Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic, the last half of “Layla” plays through so soft and nice, in scenes of the complete opposite. This song really did make this epic film.

Used when Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) starts to eliminate all his ties to the Lufthansa robbery, the song kicks through with those great piano chords as his actions are made clear: bodies. Bodies everywhere. This is the second best scene of the film, behind the Copacabana long shot. It’s a highly memorable thing that indicates very clearly where two stories will form.


2. Wayne’s World

The Song: “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

Why it’s so unforgettable? It sets itself apart from any other song scene on this list, because Wayne’s World’s use of Queen’s magnum opus made it so successful again, 20 years after its release, and a year after the death of Freddie Mercury.

A hilarious scene as the four friends take turns singing the high-pitched coda of the song with “galileo!” and “mamma mia!” And then it happens. The headbang. Their huge hair whipping around makes Bohemian Rhapsody sound like a heavy metal song. And it keeps playing. Always playing.


1.Back to the Future

The Song: “Johnny B. Goode” – Chuck Berry

Why it’s so unforgettable? Amongst the hundreds of truly classic and unforgettable scenes in this, the best 80s film, Marty McFly’s rocking out to Chuck Berry, acting like Van Halen, much to the shock of all of those 50s teenagers is the best. And always will be

The fact that Marty (Michael J. Fox) has in his hands a replica of Berry’s guitar, that “Johnny B. Goode” was released three years later from the 1955 time period of the film, which makes the “It’s you cousin, Marvin Berry” joke plausible and that all those people were shocked is golden. The whole scene’s use of the song has been so embedded in popular culture that it’s been parodied by The Simpsons and Family Guy, and makes the song so fresh then in 1984 and today. Thank you, Marty McFly.

Author Bio: Christopher Spencer is a Communications and Arts student at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, majoring in Journalism and Writing. He writes frequent reviews for recent films and posts them on his Facebook timeline, hoping to be a pro film reviewer and screenwriter.