Mike’s Favorite Original Songs of the Decade (180-171)
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:
180. “Unmade,” from Suspiria
Ah, yes, Thom Yorke doing the soundtrack for Suspiria. Somehow kinda perfect.
These songs might be an acquired taste for some, but I like them. They’re perfectly moody. And whatever that music video is feels perfect for the… let’s say, recreational substances that the vibe of this song evokes.
179. “Still Alive,” from Paul Williams: Still Alive
This was a trend in the middle of the decade — documentaries about songwriters who contributed a song to their soundtracks. This one in particular is a documentary about what happened to Paul Williams, who wrote dozens of famous film songs in the 70s, including the entire Bugsy Malone soundtrack and “The Rainbow Connection,” and even acted in stuff like Smokey and the Bandit. And then he just disappeared for like 25, 30 years. And the documentary is about what happened to him during all that time, and he contributes this song to it, which is kind of like the real life version of that Al Pacino song from Danny Collins we featured a ways back on the list. It’s nice.
178. “Pictures in My Head,” from The Muppets
Ah, our first Muppet song. This was a movie we were all charmed by when it came out and just sort of forgot about. There are a couple of good songs from this movie (though the only one that was nominated/won was “Man or Muppet,” which is not one of the better ones).
This one was their “Rainbow Connection,” which is Kermit looking back longingly on the history of the Muppets and hoping they’re not gone forever. It’s a nice little song that fits within the film, though admittedly it owes a lot to “Rainbow Connection.”
177. “Daily Battles,” from Motherless Brooklyn
Our second Thom York song. This one from just 2019. Motherless Brooklyn is a film that got totally overlooked from the moment it came out, but this song definitely stuck out. It’s in the trailer for the film, even, but I think most people didn’t notice because they were so fixated on Edward Norton doing the Tourette’s thing. But this song is pretty great. It’s moody and very Thom Yorke, but also somehow fits the entire tone of the film.
176. “Firecracker,” from Vox Lux
Now we’re talking. This is a song you could hear on the radio. I mean, you typically do, since just about every Sia song tends to sound the same as all the others, but you know what I mean. This is a pure pop song, and it’s really well done. This may actually be some people’s preferred song from this soundtrack, which I could totally understand. It’s great. I find that most people either never saw this movie or dismissed the songs because they didn’t like it. But listening to them, you have to hear that they’re all very well done.
175. “I See a Victory,” from Hidden Figures
How good is this song? They play this right at the end of the movie too, in such a perfect moment. You hear this song and immediately your spirits are lifted. It perfectly fits the film. I wasn’t sure how much I liked it as a song when I first heard it alone, but having had some years to go back and listen to it again, I’m all for it. It’s great.
174. “Let It Go,” from Spark: A Burning Man Story
How many of you freaked out when you saw the title and went, “What? THIS EARLY?!!”
I’ll admit, the only reason I know this song is because every year I listen to every song I can that was submitted for Best Original Song. So I came across it there and liked it and always remembered it from there.
The documentary is about the history of Burning Man, and is something I’d never know about aside from this song and never something I’d deliberately watch. But it doesn’t really matter to me how I came across a song, just how I feel about it. And this is a very likable song.
Admittedly, this is the kind of song that would play over a Target commercial as the family comes home and plays with the dog in their perfect suburban home, and I fully admit that it sounds just like all those songs. But… I also like it. I think I could get away with it on this first 15% of the list, before the heavy hitters start showing up. The first bit is always gonna have some personal choices on it. But also, you hear it. You know this song is charming. What am I gonna do?
173. “Opportunity,” from Annie
That’s right, this Annie movie did happen. It’s currently the final film of Cameron Diaz’s career, unless she decides to come back one of these years.
Sia wrote all the songs for the movie, and you can totally hear it from this song. It’s not my favorite song ever, but it’s charming and actually does fit within the rest of the movie. Plus they have Quvenzhané Wallis perform the song in the film, so it’s not some throwaway song they put over the end credits. I don’t love it as much as maybe some of the songs below it, but I wanted to give them credit for writing an extra song for this movie (with a lot of great songs) that doesn’t stick out as that sore a thumb, like some other movies written for pre-existing musicals tend to do.
172. “Mother Knows Best,” from Tangled
Our third Disney film on the list and our first villain song. This entire movie has underrated songs in them. None of them reach remotely the heights that other Disney songs do, but they’re all much better than the usual fare in recent years. In fact, Tangled as a film is better than most people give it credit for. It’s a really good movie.
171. “Love and Lies,” from Band Aid
I was so happy when I went back to compile this list of songs and came across this movie. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to be championing on this list.
The song is from the movie Band Aid, which was written by, directed by, produced by and stars Zoe Lister-Jones and had an all-female crew. The premise is a married couple going through tough times who attempt to save their marriage by starting a band, getting out all their frustrations in the music. It’s a really wonderful premise and a really charming movie. And, as the premise suggests, involves the leads singing and performing all original songs. All of which, I’ll add, were written by Zoe-Lister Jones.
Hopefully you hear how awesome that song is and think about checking out the movie, which is really a worthwhile indie that I assume most people know nothing about. This is a song that I keep wanting to rank higher on this list every time I hear it.
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