Arts & Culture


We remember movies for a lot of different reasons but, sometimes, it is the song which elevated a particular scene that resonates with us.

Today, we are counting down our Top 15 picks of the best songs from the soundtracks of some of the most acclaimed contemporary films.


15 Nandemonaiya” by Radwimps (Your Name, 2016)

The title of the song carries the official English translation “It’s Nothing” and is played towards the end of this 2016 sleeper hit that went on to become the highest-grossing Japanese animated film in the world. The band who wrote it was behind the entire official soundtrack, which truly helped viewers better appreciate the movie itself.


14 “The Bad in Each Other” by Feist (Warm Bodies, 2013)

Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist released her fourth studio album “Metals” in 2011 and it was a delight to hear one of its tracks played in the airport scene of this rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy) flick two years later. The movie itself featured a great deal of songs from other reputable artists such as Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, etc. that made it more memorable.

13 “Supersymmetry” by Arcade Fire (Her, 2013)

We’re pretty sure a number of indie rock fans looked forward to seeing this film by the time it was released, not only because of the rave reviews it received from critics and the general public, but also because Arcade Fire was behind its soundtrack. Songs from The Breeders as well as the Academy Award-nominated “Moon Song” by Karen O and the film’s director Spike Jonze are also featured in the movie.


12 “All is Love” by Karen O and the Kids (Where the Wild Things Are, 2009)

From a movie based on a best-selling and award-winning children’s book, this song will lift your spirits on top of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up”, which is also featured in the movie. If you have Karen O, Arcade Fire, and Spike Jonze collaborating for a soundtrack, you’re definitely in for an audiovisual treat.


11 “Little Person” by Jon Brion (Synecdoche New York, 2008)

The lyrics of the song and its gentle piano accompaniment are deeply touching. It pretty much sums up the entire movie, which was written and directed by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, and featuring the late Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his soul-stirring performances.


10 “All I Want is You” by Barry Louis Polisar (Juno, 2007)

This was originally written as a children’s song but we love the way it was used to kind of set the tone for this coming-of-age movie starring Ellen Page. You just cannot exclude “Juno” if you’re talking about movies with great soundtracks.


9 “Society” by Eddie Vedder (Into the Wild, 2007)

This is probably the unofficial anthem for people who seek happiness outside of material things. The Pearl Jam frontman fittingly sings: “Society, you’re a crazy breed. I hope you’re not lonely without me.” This is from a movie based on a best-selling book by Jon Krakauer about the life of legendary American hiker Christopher McCandless.


8 “The Girl in Byakkoya” by Susumu Hirasawa (Paprika, 2006)

This is the song that arguably introduced an international audience to the Japanese electronic scene. It was played during the opening credits that dictated the atmosphere of the film. Hirasawa’s score and Satoshi Kon’s storytelling are perfect for each other. No wonder they have become frequent collaborators despite the latter’s short-lived career.


7 “Seasons of Love” by the Cast of Rent (Rent, 2005)

This was written by Jonathan Larson for the hit Broadway musical from which the movie was based. Perhaps this song can already be considered a cliché, considering the number of times it has been covered by different artists, but who can resist its beautiful lyrics and captivating tune?


6 “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John (Almost Famous, 2000)

This is perhaps the movie that made every budding writer or rock music fan want to pursue a career in music journalism. The scene where this song was played was the highlight of the film. Don’t you just want to sing along with the cast? We don’t know about you but we totally envied Patrick Fugit’s character in this movie.


5 “New World” by Bjork (Dancer in the Dark, 2000)

From the movie that won Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork the Best Actress Award from the 53rd Cannes Film Festival. All the songs featured in this film were superbly written and performed that it’s quite difficult to pick a favorite. But this track stood out as it somehow tried to offer viewers something positive to look forward to despite watching a rather depressing film.


4 “May it Be” by Enya (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001)

You don’t have to come from Middle Earth to be enchanted by this Irish musician’s voice. Hearing it in one of Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy, which is based on a J.R.R. Tolkien masterpiece, was an absolute joy. Enya’s voice is hypnotically transcendent that you could almost feel like being transported right in the heart of Tolkien’s universe.


3 “Amphibian” by Bjork (Being John Malkovich, 1999)

This is the song that will probably make you stay in front of the screen even when the credits have already started rolling. The lyrics are purely gibberish, most likely derived from syllables of Icelandic words, but they sound so delightful that it’s hard to resist not to put it on this list.


2 “Where is my Mind?” by Pixies (Fight Club, 1999)

This was played towards the end of the movie where Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter’s characters hold hands as they calmly watch their world being torn apart. This is the song that probably introduced Pixies to a mainstream audience and you’ll be surprised to know that the band’s guitarist, Joey Santiago, is Filipino.


1 “Save Me” by Aimee Mann (Magnolia, 1999)

American singer-songwriter Aimee Mann proudly calls herself an Oscar loser after being robbed of the Best Original Song trophy during the 72nd Academy Awards. But we believe awards don’t really matter that much for such an incredibly written song from an incredibly talented artist.


So these are our top 15 best songs from contemporary films.

Care to know our honorable mentions? Here they are.

5 “This World is Not My Home” by Fern Jones (I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, 2017)

4 “Live to Rise” by Soundgarden (The Avengers, 2012)

3 “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens (Little Miss Sunshine, 2006)

2 “Let Go” by Frou Frou (Garden State, 2004)

1 “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime,” by Beck (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004)


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