There are some songs that you hear that immediately make you think of the movie they were featured prominently in, such as Celine Dion’s smash “My Heart Will Go On.” You just can’t help but think of Rose on that block of wood, pledging her love to an exhausted, descending Jack, even while she won’t just scooch over a little bit and make some room for him as the Titanic torpedoes to the bottom of the ocean.
Then there are great songs from great movies (and some not-so-great movies) that you’ve forgotten were from movies at all. Here are some examples of just that.
Van Halen – “Humans Being”
While the world mourns the passing of the guitar great, Eddie Van Halen, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 65 Oct. 6, many are pulling those Van Halen CDs or vinyl off the shelves, if not buying some. Van Halen’s catalog posted an enormous sales increase in the U.S., as reported by Billboard, within 24 hours of the innovator’s death. In doing so, many fans were no doubt frustrated at their inability to find this stellar track, and that’s because it was cut for the Helen Hunt/Bill Paxton blockbuster Twister. R.I.P. Eddie.
Goo Goo Dolls – “Iris”
“Iris” is one of the Goo Goo Dolls’ highest-charting songs and has been included in every setlist since its release in 1998, many times even in the encore. To Top 40 radio junkies, however, it’s interchangeable with “Name” or “Slide,” while “Iris” was actually written specifically for a Nicolas Cage/Meg Ryan love story called City Of Angels. The film has aged well (even if its stars haven’t). Plus, “Iris” isn’t the only ’90s classic featured on the film’s soundtrack: You can find the lugubrious Alanis Morissette gem “Uninvited” there, too.
Marilyn Manson – “Long Hard Road Out Of Hell”
“Long Hard Road Out Of Hell” is exactly what this song took to become a favorite of Marilyn Manson fans, with that long road being out of the DOA superhero flick Spawn, based on the popular Todd McFarlane character, which deserved much better than it got silver screen-wise. Sure, it somehow managed to score Martin Sheen. Plus, it’s one of the first films to feature an African-American actor portraying a major comic book superhero (Michael Jai White, who acquits himself quite nicely, all things considered). It’s John Leguizamo’s trippy riff on Pennywise as the villainous Violator that derails things. Rumor has it Spawn’s got himself a reboot in the works, but Manson, Twiggy and the gang need not rearrange a thing as far as their howling and growling contribution is concerned.
No Doubt – “New”
This fan favorite from Orange County ska/rock pioneers No Doubt was the first single off their sophomore effort, Return Of Saturn, but actually came out long before the record, attached to a ’90s cult classic Katie Holmes flick. No, not Teaching Mrs. Tingle (although, it is amazing in retrospect that the titular character there was played by the glorious Helen Mirren). We’re talking about Go, the deliriously real-time, rapid-fire film brimming with big names, from Timothy Olyphant to Taye Diggs and Jane Krakowski—and even a yet-to-explode Melissa McCarthy. Go went, and so too did “New.” Right up the alternative charts.
Rage Against The Machine – “Darkness”
The revered cinematic adaptation of the James O’Barr graphic novel The Crow is straight-up loaded with awesome music from the biggest artists at the time, such as Stone Temple Pilots and Nine Inch Nails. But Rage Against The Machine steal the show (or soundtrack, as it were) with this relentless monster that speaks of the very thing the late Brandon Lee’s Eric Draven crawls out of at the start of the film and back into by its end. The raw, frenetic energy that RATM are usually known for was swapped out for this reworked 1991 demo with a plodding, pitch-perfect backdrop while the film’s hero pursued vengeance.
Aerosmith – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”
’90s kids probably only know this Aerosmith number from the Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck opus Armageddon, but many a Gen Xer hasn’t a clue that the smash ballad, with inimitable frontman Steven Tyler at his best, is tied to some bloated Hollywood blockbuster. Never mind one where Willis saves the planet, not just a building in downtown Los Angeles. Most would also be dumbfounded to learn that it was the Boston band’s first, and only, No. 1 single ever.
Collective Soul – “Run”
Much like the aforementioned Aerosmith situation, there ain’t a ’90s kid to be found who can’t quote lines from James Van Der Beek’s hit film Varsity Blues (and who hasn’t tried the whipped cream underwear thing), while Gen Xers just know “Run” is one in a long list of solid tunes from Georgia’s formidable brothers Roland. “Run” was actually the second single off Collective Soul’s fourth studio album, Dosage. And it ran right up the alternative-rock chart.
Lisa Loeb – “Stay (I Missed You)”
Fact is, there’s no way you didn’t know Lisa Loeb’s launch into the zeitgeist came via this “one-hit wonder” (sorry, but it’s true) from a movie. But you’re probably hard-pressed to remember what movie. Well, it was Reality Bites, Ben Stiller’s directorial debut, starring the most zeitgeisty gal of the moment, Winona Ryder. It also starred Ethan Hawke, who was the one who discovered Loeb and got her song on the soundtrack. Plus, he made his directorial debut on the video accompanying it.
Siouxsie And The Banshees – “Face To Face”
Interestingly, as the Batman films got considerably worse (long before Christopher Nolan reinvigorated them), the soundtracks got better. There was Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” and U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” from Batman Forever. But this sweet Siouxsie And The Banshees song came from a solid Batman entry, with Tim Burton still at the helm: Batman Returns. What’s more, it accompanied Michelle Pfeiffer’s bow as Catwoman.
Counting Crows – “Colorblind”
This captivating, piano-driven rumination on love sees Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz plumbing the depths of his soul yet again. With this song, the band transform three minutes of the blockbuster Cruel Intentions into a tried-and-true MTV video. This is the flick where future Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon fell in love with future husband (and ex-husband) Ryan Phillippe. The song captures the mood of the film perfectly and remains a crowd-pleaser when played live.