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10 songs that became popular after being used in movies

by Stewart Cole

Not every song you write is meant to be a classic. There’s only so many times you can be asked to write the best hook of your career twice, and some of your best stuff requires fans to dig a little harder to actually find it. If fans don’t do their homework, though, their move to the silver screen is a great substitute.

While all of these songs fared fairly decently in their time either on the charts or as part of the album experience, their popularity shot through the roof once they were actually used in movies. These aren’t just meant to be a playlist of the best songs ever played in movies. No, these are the kind of songs that went right under the radar for a lot of people, only to explode back into the limelight almost overnight, garnering new fans who had never heard what they were about.

In this case, the whole song seems to take on a bit of a second life. There are die-hard fans who already know these songs like the back of their hand, but movie buffs will always associate them with a particular fight, breakup, or any other emotional moment that happened in some of their favorite movies. The goal may have been to paint a picture with music, but you’d be surprised how many songs delve into the script as well.

David Bowie was never a man who sought to find a sound and stick with it for long. From his early days to his ’80s pop years, he’d gone through everything from glam rock to soul to krautrock and finally bangers like Let’s Dance. The 90s saw him go a little darker, and before electronic glitch really took over, The Hearts Filthy Lesson gave us something pitch black.

Around the same time that Nine Inch Nails were lighting up the charts, Bowie made it for his big album Outside, which was framed as a concept album where people kill each other as a form of artistic expression. The whole thing might seem really confusing at first, but it’s a kind of philosophy that John Doe knew all too well. Being a staple of Seven’s soundtrack, there aren’t too many pop songs that delve into this kind of morbid sound, having an industrial edge to it, while Bowie talks about affairs of the heart reaching a tipping point.

Used as basically a bookend for the film, the song really does its job of immersing you in the world of this town, where things are dirty and more than a little unsettling when you look further. It may just be a great song, but you walk out of the theater a changed person when you hear this song playing over the credits.

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