Friday, April 2, 2010

Top Five Movies about Music

So, in honour of watching High Fidelity again tonight for the umpteenth time, I thought it would be fitting to write down my own TOP FIVE list combining my two favourite things: Movies about Music.

So without further ado, here’s My Top Five Movies about Music.

Honourable mention goes to Selena. There’s something about talented people dying before their time that creates a sense of sadness unlike anything else. When people die without living up to their potential, you get to thinking about what if? What would the world of music be like if artists like Selena and Kurt Cobain hadn’t died? Would there even have been a Britney Spears? Would the cookie-cutter, test-tube American Idol artists exist? It’s like that whole domino effect thing where one action moves you down a certain path. So, did these significant musical losses change the course of music forever?

#5 – Pulp Fiction
. You know I just had to put a Tarantino flick on my list. Using an eclectic mix of rock and roll, pop, and surfer music, the music in the film only enhances the storyline and makes it more memorable. And every time you hear the song ‘Girl, you’ll be a woman soon’, tell me you don’t picture Mia Wallace, prancing around her living room, just about to snort Vincent’s heroin. I mean, he even takes a traditional greek melody, the Misirlou, and makes it rock and roll.

Favourite Tracks:
"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon"- Urge Overkill
"Misirlou" – Opening theme

#4 - Moulin Rouge. Technically, this movie’s not exactly about music, but it gets on the list for its stellar song-choices. The soundtrack brings together the best pop songs across generations. What other movie puts together a musical spread made up of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, Elton John’s “Your Song” and Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit”.

Favourite Tracks:
"Your Song" – Elton John
"Elephant Love Medley"

#3 - Brown Sugar. Bringing together the greatest hip hop of our time, the movie features music that is untainted by the masses, with artists like Common, Erykah Badu, and Mos Def. Staying far away from the Crap-hop that drowns our radio stations today, Brown Sugar poetically unfolds a lifelong When Harry Met Sally –style love story, personifying hip hop as a metaphor for the love the two characters share. It’s about not selling out in life, music, and love, and for that reason, it’s #3 on my list.

Favourite Tracks:
"Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" - Erykah Badu & Common
"Used to Love H.E.R." – Common

#2 High Fidelity. The movie opens with John Cusack going through a bad breakup, following his character as he revisits past relationships through music, trying to figure out what went wrong. It’s not the end point that matters in this movie, which is the inevitable make-up, so much as the journey. And, along the ride, we get a kick-ass road-trip mix in the form of ‘Top 5’ lists about everything and anything. High Fidelity gives us the most extensive and diverse playlist in a movie to date. Eclectic and alternative, it’s highly self-righteous about what is and isn’t cool, but it seems to work.

Favourite Tracks:
"Baby I Love Your Way" – Lisa Bonet
"Dry the Rain" – The Beta Band

And my #1 all-time favourite movie about music is Almost Famous. This gets #1 because it’s all about loving music and how it can literally change your life. Based on writer Cameron Crowe’s experiences travelling with bands like the Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin, we get a backstage pass to the musical scene of the 1970s filled of course, with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. What makes it stand out as a film, is Kate Hudson, as Penny Lane, leader of the Band-Aids – a group of girls (traditionally known as groupies) who love music and musicians so much, they dedicate their lives to following them around. Patrick Fugit’s character’s innocent and naive look at his pure love for music is corrupted by the commercial aspect of music – and it literally shows that fame and popularity are the root cause of the downfall of bands.

Favourite Tracks:
"Tiny Dancer" – Elton John
"That’s the Way" – Led Zeppelin


  1. Hmm, interesting idea. Although I love Grease, it's a musical and not an ode to music itself. Cuz then, I'd also have to include a number of movies, like CHICAGO, MY FAIR LADY, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC, that were fantastic musicals but not exactly 'love letters to music in the form of film'