Mike’s Favorite Original Songs of the Decade (200-191)
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:
200. “Threshold,” from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
But what a perfect way to begin this list. “We are Sex Bob-omb and we’re here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff!” It’s such a high energy song. Also, written by Beck, in case you couldn’t tell by the sound.
199. “Girls,” from Sing Street
Our first of the songs from this wonderful movie. Don’t worry, they’re all gonna be on here. This is what original film songs are about. Not that, “We wrote a dumb pop song for our end credits.” This movie’s got hits. They wrote every song for the band, and they’re all fantastic. This is the weakest of the bunch, but it’s still good enough to have made this list. It’s just a lovely tune.
198. “Don’t Look Down,” from Danny Collins
An underrated tune from an underrated movie. This one got dismissed when it came out (I’m culpable here, too), but I’ve rediscovered it over the past five years. The premise of the film is based on a a real musician, who found amongst his things a letter than John Lennon had written to him 35 years prior. So they took that idea and wrote this movie around Al Pacino, basically playing a Neil Diamond-type singer who is now 70 and finds this letter, which makes him realize all the shitty choices he’s made in his life. So he goes to reconnect with his estranged son, Bobby Cannavale, who’s secretly dealing with this illness that he hasn’t told his wife about.
This song is the one that Pacino slowly writes over the course of the film. The first song we hear of his is an empty pop-type diddy, but this is the introspective ballad he writes as he truly comes to terms with the choices he’s made. And while you don’t really get the full tune, because it plays over the montage, and while Pacino’s voice isn’t the strongest, it’s a really nice song. It’s the kind of song that belongs on a list like this, because it’s an original song written for a movie that actually has narrative importance to the film.
197. “Montage,” from Swiss Army Man
Who’d have thought a movie about a farting corpse would have such sweet and lovely music to it? It’s hard not to be swept away by the beauty of this song. I’m doubly impressed by it because the entire song is literally a joke! It’s a song called “Montage” that plays over a montage. So rather than writing a song like the one just below this song on the list, that plays over a montage, they literally just wrote a song that announces the montage as a montage. Which is amazing.
196. “Garbage Truck,” from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
This is the most indie garage rock song ever. I love it. A lot of underrated music in this movie, which is wall-to-wall full of music. People forget how good the songs in this movie are.
195. “So Long,” from Concussion
I love Leon Bridges. And I really like this song. Slight downgrade from me on the list just because the song is completely irrelevant to the movie. It plays over the end credits and really has nothing to do with it whatsoever. Seems like they just got a new song from Leon Bridges and put it in their movie. Which is cool, but this could literally be a song in the Mr. Rogers movie and still fit. So that’s why it’s only #195. But it’s still a very lovely song from one of the very few people making music nowadays whose stuff I actually like and listen to.
194. “A Million Ways to Die,” from A Million Ways to Die in the West
One thing (of many) I respect about Seth MacFarlane is his commitment to original music. He did it on his show and he’s done it in the three movies he’s directed to this point. This is a perfect song for his movie. It’s totally trading on “Blazing Saddles,” but the song still has to hold up on its own, which it does. Though while “Blazing Saddles” is a very straightforward song (Mel Brooks tells the story about Frankie Laine singing it and actually crying because he loved the song so much, not knowing what the movie was it was being recorded for), this one is sung straightforward, but all the lyrics are comical. So it’s never gonna hold up over time the way Blazing Saddles is, but it’s still a very nice tune.
193. “When Can I See You Again,” from Wreck-It Ralph
Ah yes, that song from Wreck-It Ralph from the group that brought us “Fireflies.” I remember hearing this song the first time during the end credits of the movie and thinking, “Owl City… really?” But you know what? It’s a really charming song that perfectly fits the film it’s in. And end credits song, admittedly, but it’s just a very likable song that puts a smile on your face. Slightly concerned that the content is basically what people ask in movie theaters nowadays — “When are they gonna make another one?” — but we’ll just ignore that part and treat it like most bubblegum pop and not actually pay attention to the lyrics.
192. “Big Eyes,” from Big Eyes
Do people know that Tim Burton directed this movie and that it’s by the same guys who wrote Dolemite Is My Name and Ed Wood? I feel like this movie flew totally under the radar when it came out. Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz — it’s a solid movie. And Lana Del Rey doing a song for a Tim Burton movie… how on point is that?
I’ve always enjoyed this song. I love those random Shakira trumpets that blare near the beginning out of nowhere. It almost doesn’t fit the movie at all, but I love the big orchestral splendor of this song. They went all out on it, and I’m here for it. It’s one of those songs I keep thinking I want to rank higher every thirty seconds, but then the next thirty seconds come and I go, “No, it fits right where it is.” It’s a really interesting song, but I like it.
191. “Fine on the Outside,” from When Marnie Was There
You almost expect Bradley Cooper to start singing after those first couple of chords, don’t you?
It’s interesting, this song, because normally Ghibli doesn’t record their songs in English, and they usually all sound like anime end credits songs. So here they have this beautiful little indie ballad that perfectly fits the film. I remember sitting up when I heard it and going, “Whoa, what’s that?” This is one of those songs most people wouldn’t think of for a list like this because it’s a bit out of the way, so I’m glad I got to have it on here for people to listen to.
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