I believe that a movie is only as good as its soundtrack, and there are various ways movie producers can go about setting their scenes to just the right music. They might hire a composer to create an original score, or license music from recording artists. But what about when you get a combination of both? We've all seen a movie that had a song fit so well there was no way it couldn't have been written just for that movie. It's the song you leave the theater humming to yourself as you walk past the box office. This list is filled with songs written specifically for the movies they appeared in whose audio-to-visual pairing led to viral success and critical acclaim.
Richard Armitage - "Misty Mountains" (From The Hobbit)
Let's be honest with ourselves here. There wasn't a single person who didn't shiver when they watched this scene in theaters, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a dirty liar. This mournful hymn tells the story of how the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain lost their home and a vast hoard of gold to the dragon Smaug. After the release of the movie, the song quickly blew up and became a Youtube cover sensation with widespread popularity and managed to get stuck in the heads of anyone who has ever seen the movie.
James Newton Howard - "The Hanging Tree" (From The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Suzanne Collins wrote this song as the anthem for the rebellion in the Hunger Games
books. It actually didn't appear on the Mockingjay Original Soundtrack but once it had begun to garner serious popularity, it was put in on a digital re-release. Like "Misty Mountains", this song ingrained the movie in the memory of those who saw it, and its shift from simple hymn to a rousing battle chant couldn't have been done more spectacularly.
Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - "Falling Slowly" (From Once)
If you've ever watched a rom com, then you have to know about the movie Once
. The interesting thing is that the writers of the song both play the main roles in the movie, which actually mimics elements of Glen's own story as a young musician on the streets of Dublin. This is one of those songs that almost everyone has heard, but can't remember where from. It's fitting that a movie about two musicians falling in love led to the creation of a song that won an Academy Award.
Paul McCartney - "Live And Let Die"
I'm not afraid to admit that for the longest time when I was younger I had no idea this song was written by Paul McCartney. All I knew was that it was one of the James Bond movie theme songs, but that just speaks volumes about what that movie did for this song. It was so memorable that it immortalized the name more than the legendary person who wrote it.
Ed Sheeran - "I See Fire" (From The Hobbit)
Okay, obviously Ed Sheeran doesn't need any help making a song huge, but this one is a special case that ended up standing out among his biggest hits. For a massive nerd like myself, seeing a folk style song about a high fantasy universe reach over 460,000,000 streams on Spotify is insane. Sheeran was told "Write a song that takes the audience by the hand and leads them from Middle-Earth back to reality" and then the man writes and records this song in less than a day. He wrote this chart shattering masterpiece in less than 24 hours and it's just one of the aspects of the movie that made The Hobbit
Adele - "Skyfall"
James Bond movies are infamous for their use of original themes written by famous artists. If you ever have the opportunity to write a song for 007, you know you've made it. "Skyfall" was the shock to the system that the modern James Bond movies needed to bring it back to its original prestige after Quantum of Solace
didn't do as well as the previous movies, and Adele's take on the James Bond theme did not disappoint.
Isaac Hayes - "Theme From Shaft"
Despite not getting the role of Shaft himself, Isaac Hayes had the honor of writing the theme that would become one of the most iconic pieces of original film music in history. With all the soul and funkiness that a man can muster, he created a piece of music that solidified Shaft's place in the archives of pop culture and cinema.
Ray Parker Jr. - "Ghostbusters"
I'll bet you thought I wasn't going to put this one in. But there is honestly no better example of a song that became a hit because of its debut on the big screen. Ghostbusters
is the quintessential movie anthem, and someone would have to have been living in the woods somewhere for the last fifty years to have never heard this song. It's success speaks for itself, whether or not you or I think it's a good song.