Mike’s Favorite Original Songs of the Decade (190-181)
This was probably the list I was most excited to create when I came up with the idea of all these ‘Decade’ lists. It’s the most immediately gratifying. The songs are all right there to listen to and appreciate.
One of my favorite things to do each year (before they tried to take it away from us with that shortlist bullshit) was go through the list of all the eligible songs for Best Original Song at the Oscars and then figure out which ones I liked best. So I already had a giant pool of songs to work from, and then all I had to do was go in and look for any others that may have not been submitted or eligible, etc. And after that it was just making a playlist and figuring out what order they were going in. Which, I’ve gotta tell you, if you’ve never tried it… do it. It’s great. This is now a playlist on my phone that I listen to occasionally because it’s just great songs from movies.
Anyway, this is a list of my 200 favorite original songs from the decade in film. I was pleased that I could get to 200 here because there actually were that many (and more) that I liked enough to deem worthy of one of these lists. We’re gonna post it in chunks of ten, the way we’ve posted all the other lists. Only this one has been slowly been rolled out over the past couple of months, one each day. So really this is just cleaning all that up and putting it all in one place.
So here are my favorite original songs from the films of 2010-2019:
190. “Earned It,” from Fifty Shades of Grey
That’s right. A song from Fifty Shades of Grey made the list.
The real question we should be asking is — why did they go all out on this soundtrack? (I guess because they didn’t put the money into actually making the film any good?)
This song is all about the beat, plus you have the Weeknd’s nice vocals over it. It’s a nice juxtaposition and turns into a nice song.
Fun story: the week before the Oscars for this year (where he was nominated), he was on the lot where I used to work (where a lot of musicians tend to come while they’re in town). And I had no idea who he was past the fact that I knew he was nominated for this song. I knew nothing else he’d ever recorded (and still really don’t. Maybe I’ll recognize a title or two, but that’s about it). So I look out the window of my office and say to the other people in it, “Who’s that dude outside with the weird hair?” And the go, “Mike, that’s The Weeknd.” I had no idea.
Anyway, this is a nice song.
189. “Blinded by Love,” from Vox Lux
Our first Vox Lux entry on the list. Here’s a movie that has about five original songs in it, and when I first saw the film, I didn’t really notice the songs all that much, because I was reeling from the third act of the film, which ends with a concert but is almost trying to not give you the big concert, by not fixing up its audio and letting Natalie sing live, heavy breathing and all between songs. Plus she’s not the greatest singer, though she’s more than passable. Which took a lot of attention away from the songs for me. So all I heard was “Sia,” who so clearly wrote all the songs.
But, going back later for this article and hearing just the songs in a vacuum, they’re all really nice. They’re all pop songs, and are meant to be pop songs. This one’s nice, though not as catchy as the other songs that will also be on the list. But it totally fits as a song that would be in a movie like this. And bonus points for it actually being performed during the film.
188. “Beautiful Ghosts,” from Cats
Ah, yes, the tradition of adapting a stage musical for the screen and including a single new song for Oscar contention. Because Taylor Swift was in this movie, she wrote it with Andrew Lloyd-Webber. And the version that appears in the movie, as sung by Francesca Hayward, is a nice little song. It’s really no different than the song they wrote for Les Mis, except for maybe the overall quality of the songwriting and how you feel about it. This one feels a bit too much like Taylor Swift for me to put any higher, but overall, I do like it as a song and don’t think it stands out that badly from everything else in that movie.
187. “Fixer-Upper,” from Frozen
I’ll admit that after this movie came out, I totally blacked out this entire section with the trolls because it just didn’t feel remotely up to par with the rest of the film. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate it, especially this song, which is a really wonderful song. It’s a very likable tune. Definitely the weakest of the songs from this movie, but that just speaks to the overall quality of the songs in the movie. You put this song in the second Frozen and it’s immediately the best or second best song in the entire film.
186. “I Punched Keanu Reeves,” from Always Be My Maybe
What a perfect end credits song for this movie. It’s a great punchline to a joke that happened an hour earlier. Plus Randall Park co-wrote it and actually performs it, which makes it even better. THIS is what original songs are about. You get the laugh when you realize what it’s about, but then you find yourself grooving along to it and going, “Wow, this is actually good.”
185. “Try Everything,” from Zootopia
It’s just a really likable song. I was gonna downgrade it because it has nothing to do with the movie and just appears during the credits, but that’s not entirely true. You do hear this song throughout the film in snippets, and then we see her performing the song during the end credits. So that made me okay with it. This is straight out of the Wreck-It Ralph playbook of broadly likable pop song over your end credits. And it works.
184. “Ramona,” from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Oh this song is so good. When the snippet shows up during the movie and you hear Beck start singing, it gets a laugh every time. It’s such a great song that perfectly captures the moment the movie uses it — the hero depressed and defeated, pining for his lost girlfriend. Beautifully done.
183. “100 Black Coffins,” from Django Unchained
I don’t know where the decision was made to put modern songs on the soundtrack to this movie, but somehow it works. How amazing is that James Brown/Tupac mashup? That’s not original, so I couldn’t include it on the list, but it’s great.
It’s only half related to the song. It sounds like a Rick Ross song they retrofitted for the movie, but that’s fine. They put the clip at the beginning and it plays during the movie, so it counts. And it’s just a fun song. It’s not high art, but it gets the job done.
182. “The Backson Song,” from Winnie the Pooh
What a lovely song. People forget about this movie. But as you can see, Kristen and Robert Lopez did the music and Zooey Deschanel wrote one too. And it’s just a lovely movie.
This song is the one that the entire plot hinges around. Basically, Christopher Robin leave a note saying he’s going away but will be “back soon.” But because no one can read, they all misread it as “Backson.” And they wonder what a Backson is. So this song is Owl whipping them all into a frenzy, creating this fictional monster that makes them terrified about Christopher Robin’s well-being. It’s a very fun song, with the nice punchline at the end where they might actually realize what’s going on.
And then the movie wonderfully gives us a punchline to all this after the credits as well.
181. “I Love You Too Much,” from The Book of Life
Does anyone remember this movie? Coco before Coco? (Not to be confused with Coco Before Chanel, which is also a thing.) The fun thing about it is, this one stars Diego Luna, who sings this song, and Coco has Gael Garcia Bernal, the other half of Y Tu Mama Tambien. Which is amusing to me.
But this song in particular is just a beautiful little love ballad. It’s hard not to like it when you hear it. Most people will prefer the Coco songs to this, but this is very worthy as well.
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