Mike’s Favorite Original Songs of the Decade (100-91)
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:
100. “Remember Me,” from Coco
This is the flashy version of the song, but I much prefer the later version, that Miguel sings to his grandmother at the end of the film. Still, it’s a very well-written song and my only real gripe with it is that it’s so short. I kinda wish there were more to it. But still, as it stands, it’s a very great song that serves a very important function within its film, which you can’t say for a lot of original film songs out there.
99. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Ah, yes. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Sneaky choice, I know. But also… how many more memorable songs out there are there than this one? You start this movie that you thought was gonna be a miniseries but instead becomes an anthology film, and then here we are with this opening segment that’s just hilarious. And then all of a sudden, after a shootout, this dude just starts singing. And it’s completely ridiculous and hilarious. But then the movie goes all in on the song, which makes the whole thing even better. The beautiful thing about this song is how completely straight the whole thing is played, even though they’re dragging one guy’s corpse out of the street as his soul floats away into heaven, singing this song. It’s incredible.
98. “Moonfog,” from The Beach Bum
Oh god, do I love this song. I got so happy in the theater when Jimmy Buffet was on Snoop Dogg’s — I’m sorry… Lingerie’s — boat and improvising/writing this song about Moondog. And then for the full song to be the end credits song — it’s really the best payoff you can get in a movie like this. It’s so perfect for everything this movie is and what it aspires to be. I know not everyone’s into the whole Jimmy Buffet, Parrothead thing (they’re like Juggalos but in khakis and Hawaiian shirts, for those of you who don’t know what that means), but man, isn’t this just such a great song to groove along to? The man definitely knows how to give you that lazy beach feeling, doesn’t he?
97. “Hollywood Ending,” from Anna and the Apocalypse
Aww yeah, baby. Our first Anna and the Apocalypse song. For those who don’t know what it is, the simplest way to put it is — Shaun of the Dead with show tunes. That’s the film. It’s a zombie musical. In fact, it’s based on a short film called… Zombie Musical. And it’s so much fun. This song is sort of the refrain throughout the film. It shows up near the beginning and then closes out the film in a reprise. It’s the song, if you will. Every musical sort of has their one ‘big’ song. This is the one for this film. It’s basically their way of saying, “Look, things don’t always work out well,” which allows for the characters to be eaten by zombies throughout it. But the songs in it are really good. And it’s one of those nice little gems that’s just out there for those who like a little song and dance with their flesh-eating zombies.
96. “OYAHYTT,” from Sorry to Bother You
I’m pretty sure everyone is at least partially aware of this one. It was all over the advertising for this movie, which felt like it was everywhere around the time the film came out. It’s catchy as shit, this song. And yes, in case you didn’t realize it, the title is short for “Oh yeah, alright, hell yeah, that’s tight.” It’s all about the instrumentation for this one, but also… it fits the film. It just sort of encapsulates the entire film in my mind. It’s a pretty unforgettable melody that makes you want to get up and party. Hard not to put it on this list.
95. “Tuff Love (Barb Wire),” from Patti Cake$
So this song, for those who haven’t seen Patti Cake$ (which, based on what I’m gauging just by talking to people these past few years, is most of you), is one of the more important songs in the entire film. It’s not a rap, unlike almost all the others, because it’s not sung by Patti, but by her mother. The film is partially a mother-daughter story, and this song represents her mother, portrayed brilliantly by Bridget Everett. She was a minor singer in the 80s who released one album under the name Barb Wire. And then she had a kid and is now this single mother who bartends at a cop bar, gets drunk and sings karaoke, sort of reliving her past glory that way. Which, of course, her daughter can’t stand, because her daughter wants to actually make it. And this song, which she puts on at one point, represents all of that, and also factors into another song at the end of the film, which we’ll eventually get to on here. But also, in terms of just the song, isn’t it just a great 80s-style rock song? You can definitely hear someone like a Pat Benatar or someone like that performing something like this, which is what makes it feel so perfect for the film. It feels like it could be real.
94. “Bang Bang,” from The Great Gatsby
Gatsby’s back. This is where we start getting into the good stuff. This soundtrack, a lot of people forget about it. It’s amazing. They incorporate a lot of the songs into the score, which makes the whole thing feel really seamless. And also, it’s just all-out excessive, which fits the film perfectly. This one I like because of the 20s-echoing big band intro that comes in and out. I’m not as in love with the beat portions of it, but that’s fine. Because in the later parts, they bring both in at the same time, and it’s awesome. Plus it just feels like a party song, which works for me.
93. “What’s Up Danger,” from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
This song fucking slaps. This shit goes hard, and I love it. This is, I think, the first song we hear in the film, too. Or maybe it’s just the first track on the album. I forget. But this just gives you an idea of what you’re in for with the rest of the music, and when you see the film for the first time, you are not expecting this. Which just makes me like it even more.
92. “Turning My Life Around,” from Anna and the Apocalypse
This is the song I’d show people who want to get an idea of what they’re in for with this movie. It perfectly captures both genres and the tone of the film. It’s basically that opening of Shaun of the Dead where he walks to the shop, oblivious to all the death and destruction in the neighborhood. Plus it acts as sort of the ‘princess’ song you’d get in Disney, where she’s ready to go out there and go after her dreams… which is brilliantly undercut by everything going on behind her. And what’s great about it is, if you didn’t have the visuals, you’d think it was just this really earnest song about people looking to make the most of a new day.
91. “Amen,” from All Is Lost
Oh, now we’re getting into the really good stuff. From here on out, there’s gonna be nothing but songs I’m really excited about. This song is the end credits song for All Is Lost, and it’s just a beautifully somber ballad that really keeps you in your seat after the movie ends. It’s a beautiful song that I was all over when it came out, but unfortunately no one felt the same as me (or actually bothered to see the film which would have allowed them to hear the song). But I love this one.
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