A good film needs good directing and great performances from the cast but the music can add a whole other level to the movie-going experience. A good soundtrack can take you to another era – much like Get On Up the James Brown biopic released in cinemas 21 November. Music can help show how a character truly feels and it can leave you taping your feet and wanting to sing along. So to put you in the mood to revisit the sixties and seventies with Get On Up here are some of our favourite music in the movies.
8 Mile (2002)
Jimmy “Rabbit” Smith (Eminem in a semi-autobiographical role) is trying to make something of himself but his low-life mother (Kim Basinger) and his low-standing social situation are in his way. His rap music is what helps him strive to do better and helps him let out all his pent-up feelings. Eminem went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself”.
While the story of a teenager moving to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned (I’m talking about the 1984 film, not the 2001 remake) isn’t a musical per se the soundtrack has some of the most iconic songs from the eighties – Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose”, Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” and Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” to name just a few.
School of Rock (2003)
Jack Black is the down-on-his-luck wannabe rock star who takes a teaching job in order to pay the rent. He turns his class of preteen kids into a rock band, teaching a cello player that it’s basically an upright bass guitar and appointing students costume designer and the bands manager. Jack Black and the kids perform music from AC/DC and the soundtrack is full of iconic rock bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
The Coen brothers’ latest film takes place during a week in in the life of struggling singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he tries to get a record deal. The folk music is presented in dimly lit bars in Greenwich Village and with great singing performances from Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake the music is haunting and memorable.
Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
Not only is Singin’ In The Rain a fun musical full of lavish routines, it also charts Hollywood’s change from silent films to “talkies” – leading to many funny moments. Gene Kelly’s song-and-dance number performed in the rain is now an iconic scene but it’s Donald O’Connor’s routine for “Make ‘Em Laugh” that is truly astounding as he performed the routine without the aid of special effects or wirework.
Pitch Perfect (2012)
A film about rival college acappella groups doesn’t sound like it would be that fun but Pitch Perfect is incredibly entertaining thanks to the great cast and the great comedy. Pitch Perfect has modern hits like David Guetta’s “Titanium” and eighties classics like Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and often mashes up different genres to make something special. It’s music like you’ve never heard it before.
The story of a trio of black female soul singer’s attempting to cross over into the mainstream pop charts in the 1960’s almost demands there to be great music. Dreamgirls certainly delivers with Beyoncé herself belting out songs that are full of soul and emotion as well as drama as the trio must decide if the music and fame is worth it. Former American Idol finalist, Jennifer Hudson received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Effie White.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Baz Luhrman’s epic musical was a turning point for the genre as it took hit pop songs of the past 40 years from Elton John to Madonna to Nirvana and reworked them into a sexy version of 19th Century Paris. Moulin Rouge! is over-the-top with spectacle but it perfectly suits the tragic love story of Christian and Satine. Both the film and the soundtrack was a huge success and it showed Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman had hidden talents when it came to singing.
Once is a modern day musical set in Dublin about busker Guy (Glen Hansard) and a young Czech immigrant played by Markéta Irglová who come together to write and perform songs during an eventful week. The folk music feels organic and beautiful with guitar work and lyrics that really tap into the sense of love, loss and confusion.
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Jailhouse Rock is a classic Elvis Presley movie where he plays a man who is thrown into prison after accidentally killing a man while protecting a woman’s honour. It’s in prison where he finds his musical talent and where the iconic song “Jailhouse Rock” is performed. Other hit rock & roll songs performed by Presley in the film include “I Want to Be Free” and “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care”.
Get On Up is out in UK cinemas on 21st November.