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25 Movie Songs Bigger Than The Movie

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Not every film song is a classic. For every monster hit like (shudder) 'My Heart Will Go On' from Titanic, there are endless tunes like Josh Groban’s 'Remember' from Troy which are, ironically, easy to forget. Even the Oscars isn't that helpful a guide; in 2011, just two songs got nominated for an Academy Award. But sometimes, Hollywood stumbles onto a real tune, and in an even smaller number of cases that song transcends the film that provided its start. In tribute to these rare creatures, we’ve gathered together 25 songs that became far bigger than the film they appeared in. You will no doubt be outraged at what’s been excluded or included, so let us know what we missed or got wrong in the comments section below.

Where's it from?* Despicable Me 2
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Who first performed it?* Pharrell Williams
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Who wrote it?** *Pharrell Williams

Give me a fun fact!* *Pharrell originally wrote the song for Cee Lo Green and has even said on the record that Cee Lo’s rendition "burns my version!" However, "the powers that be" decided that Cee Lo should concentrate instead on his 2012 Christmas album, Cee Lo's Magic Moment, leaving Pharrell to perform what became a monster hit.


ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS

Where's it from?* Absolute Beginners
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Who first performed it?* David Bowie
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Who wrote it?** *David Bowie

Give me a fun fact! The musicians on this track were only told to show up at Abbey Road to record with a mysterious "Mr X". However, they guessed Bowie’s identity ahead of time.


RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN' ON MY HEAD

Where's it from?* Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
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Who first performed it?* B.J. Thomas
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Who wrote it?** *Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Give me a fun fact!* *We missed out on a Bob Dylan version – he reportedly turned it down before Bacharach and David settled on B. J. Thomas – but there is a French version by Sacha Distel called Toute La Pluie Tombe Sur Moi. It's weird, but not as weird as B. J. Thomas' original version of 'Hooked On A Feeling' (without hooga-chakas).


FIGHT THE POWER

Where's it from?* Do The Right Thing
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Who first performed it?* Public Enemy
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Who wrote it?** *Public Enemy

Give me a fun fact!* *After Spike Lee specifically commissioned this song for Do The Right Thing, Chuck D wrote "a big chunk of it on a plane… flying over Italy". So next time your flight circles the Eternal City, don't forget to put on your seatbelt, lock your tray in position and "motherfuck" Elvis and John Wayne.


I'VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN

Where's it from?* Born To Dance
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Who first performed it?* Virginia Bruce
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Who wrote it?** *Cole Porter

Give me a fun fact!* *Even more disturbing than the Sinatra/Bono cover of 1993 was the British Heart Foundation's advert of a few years back, giving a newfound, very physical meaning to the lyrics.

Where's it from?* Space Jam
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Who first performed it?* R. Kelly
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Who wrote it?** *R. Kelly

Give me a fun fact! On the US Billboard Hot 100, this never reached number one. It was denied the top spot by Toni Braxton, whose 'Un-Break My Heart' somehow managed to be even more schmaltz-filled and awful. Still, the video is quite entertaining.


STAYIN' ALIVE

Where's it from?* Saturday Night Fever
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Who first performed it?* The Bee Gees Who wrote it?** The Bee Gees

Give me a fun fact! The Bee Gees' regular drummer missed the recording sessions for this song because of the death of his mother. To fill the gap, the Bee Gees resorted to the loop you can hear in the final product (which was itself taken from 'Night Fever').


MOON RIVER

Where's it from? Breakfast at Tiffany's
Who first performed it? Audrey Hepburn
Who wrote it? Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer

Give me a fun fact! The song has a pretty narrow range of pitch, thanks to Mancini writing to accommodate Hepburn’s limited singing range. But despite being tailored for the actress, Hepburn’s voice-and-guitar version was nowhere to be found on the official soundtrack album, replaced instead by a somewhat western-sounding orchestral recording.


CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE

Where's it from? Blue Hawaii
Who first performed it? Elvis Presley
Who wrote it? Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss

Give me a fun fact! The original melody is taking from a 1784 French tune, 'Plaisir D'Amour', by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini. Sound familiar? In fact, that original song has itself been covered a fair bit, including a version by Joan Baez. The King was right: love songs really are the same in any language.


9 TO 5

Where's it from? 9 To 5
Who first performed it? Dolly Parton
Who wrote it? Dolly Parton

Give me a fun fact! Just before the song came out in the UK, Sheena Easton released a different song, also called 9 To 5. It's fair to say it's not quite as impressive, if only because it's all about a woman plaintively waiting for her man: "My baby takes the morning train / He works from 9 from 5 and then / He takes another home again / To find me waiting for him." Pfft. Dolly's out there working herself, Sheena!

Where's it from? The Thomas Crown Affair
Who first performed it? Noel Harrison
Who wrote it? Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman

Give me a fun fact! Udo Lindenberg did a German version back in 1997 and it's terrifying, frankly. Mind you, it's a lot better than Sting's take, which he recorded for the otherwise much improved Thomas Crown remake in 1999.


THE LOOK OF LOVE

Where's it from? Casino Royale (1967)
Who first performed it? Dusty Springfield
Who wrote it? Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Give me a fun fact! Bacharach was so, um, inspired by the seductive sight of Ursula Andress that he wrote this theme, which would have stayed an instrumental if not for the lyrical stylings of Hal David. David then went on to write the lyrics for two more Bond tunes: 'We Have All The Time In The World' (from On Her Majesty's Secret Service) and 'Moonraker'.


LOSE YOURSELF

Where's it from? 8 Mile
Who first performed it? Eminem
Who wrote it? Eminem

Give me a fun fact! Instead of heading into a proper studio, Eminem recorded most of the song in his trailer while filming 8 Mile. Steve King, the song's engineer and mixer, told Rolling Stone that Eminem "did all three verses in one take and killed it... This story had been building up in him, so when he did that first take, it was incredible – it just came out of him."


QUE SERÁ, SERÁ (WHATEVER WILL BE, WILL BE)

Where’s it from? The Man Who Knew Too Much
Who first performed it? Doris Day
Who wrote it? Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

Give me a fun fact! "Que Será, Será" doesn't make grammatical sense in Spanish, French or Italian. The closest translation would be "che sarà, sarà" in Italian – a fact that rowdy, drunk supporters at a football match always appreciate hearing.


CALL ME

Where’s it from? American Gigolo
Who first performed it? Blondie
Who wrote it? Debbie Harry and Giorgio Moroder

Give me a fun fact! After a radio DJ played the song at double speed and claimed it was the new Chipmunks' song, The Chipmunks didn't miss a beat and quickly released their own version. Though we wouldn't recommend listening, here's the link if you're feeling masochistic.

Where's it from? Neptune's Daughter
Who first performed it? Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams
Who wrote it? Frank Loesser

Give me a fun fact! Loesser originally used to perform the song with his wife at private parties. When he hawked the rights to MGM for a tidy sum, Lynn Garland (aka Mrs. Loesser) was reportedly furious at the perceived betrayal.


FLASHDANCE... WHAT A FEELING

Where's it from? Flashdance
Who first performed it? Irene Cara
Who wrote it? Giorgio Moroder, Keith Forsey and Irene Cara

Give me a fun fact! Though for some the song will forever be linked to Jennifer Beals in a leotard and legwarmers, for a younger generation it's more closely associated with acid reflux – thanks to Gaviscon.


GANGSTA'S PARADISE

Where's it from? Dangerous Minds
Who first performed it? Coolio
Who wrote it? Stevie Wonder, Coolio, Doug Rasheed, L.V.

Give me a fun fact! Weird Al Yankovic produced his own version, Amish Paradise, which reportedly annoyed Coolio, who hadn't directly agreed to it. Well, either that, or the rapper resented the fact that Weird Al's parody was somehow a lot better.


IF YOU WANT TO SING IT OUT, SING IT OUT

Where's it from? Harold And Maude
Who first performed it? Cat Stevens
Who wrote it? Cat Stevens

Give me a fun fact! Although the artist currently known as Yusuf Islam wrote several songs for Harold And Maude, there was no soundtrack album on release. It took thirteen years for this song to make its way to an official release, on Stevens' Footsteps In The Dark.


EVERYTHING I DO (I DO IT FOR YOU)

Where's it from? Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
Who first performed it? Bryan Adams
Who wrote it? Bryan Adams, Michael Kamen and Robert John Lange

Give me a fun fact! The song has nothing to do with Robin Hood whatsoever, which might actually have helped it gain a life of its own. It's now so ubiquitous that even Stewie covered it in Family Guy, complete with unnecessary nudity.

Where's it from? The Woman In Red
Who first performed it? Stevie Wonder
Who wrote it? Stevie Wonder

Give me a fun fact! We can officially say Stevie Wonder wrote this, since his ex-writing partner Lee Garrett and songwriter Lloyd Chiate lost a lawsuit claiming otherwise in 1990. The judge rejected the claim by Chiate that he and Garrett had written the song, ruling in favour of Stevland Morris (that's Stevie Wonder's real name, fact fans).


AGAINST ALL ODDS (TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW)

Where's it from? Against All Odds
Who first performed it? Phil Collins
Who wrote it? Phil Collins

Give me a fun fact! The song gained a new life thanks to the passionate wailings of Mariah Carey and Westlife, alongside prodigious use in talent shows. In 2004, it was the debut single of the X Factor winner, Steve Brookstein – who, by the way, released an album this year called Forgotten Man.


THE WAY WE WERE

Where's it from? The Way We Were
Who first performed it? Barbra Streisand
Who wrote it? Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and Marvin Hamlisch

Give me a fun fact! In 2014, Barbra Streisand revisited the song for a duet with Lionel Richie on her new album. Sadly, they don't appear to have actually met in person to record it...


ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Where's it from? Honeysuckle Rose
Who first performed it? Willie Nelson
Who wrote it? Willie Nelson

Give me a fun fact! Supposedly, Willie Nelson wrote lyrics for the whole song on a sick bag during a flight with one of the film's producers. We like to think it was an empty sick bag.


THINGS HAVE CHANGED

Where's it from? Wonder Boys
Who first performed it? Bob Dylan
Who wrote it? Bob Dylan

Give me a fun fact! Curtis Hanson shot the video with Dylan, which sees Robert Zimmerman inserted into various scenes from the sadly neglected Wonder Boys. If you've ever wanted to see Michael Douglas, Robert Downey Jr. and Bob Dylan in the same place (more or less), you're in luck.

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