Mike’s Favorite Original Songs of the Decade (70-61)
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:
70. “I Don’t Know What Love Is,” from A Star Is Born
More Star Is Born. This soundtrack just produces amazing song after amazing song. This one is just a beautiful duet between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. She pretty much carries the vocals, but he harmonizes with her really well. It’s just a beautiful song, and the only negative thing I can say about it… there’s almost a dozen songs in this movie that are somehow better than this one.
69. “Tightrope,” from The Greatest Showman
The sneaky thing about The Greatest Showman is that most of its best songs are not ones sung by Hugh Jackman. Not that he doesn’t have some good ones, but typically you don’t think of the non-Hugh ones as being any good. Every musical always gives the other characters a number or two, and they always slow everything down and no one really cares. And that’s what I figured I was getting with this one, when they decide to finally pay some attention to Michelle Williams’ character in the latter half of the film. But then you realize, oh no, this song is great. Maybe you don’t necessarily realize it in the moment, but when you hear the song apart from the film, you get it. This song is terrific. It’s kind of separate from the rest of the film, as she is as a character, but it’s a really great song that is much better than you might think it is at first listen.
68. “Sunflower,” from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
This is the big hit from the movie. I saw it got nominated for like, legitimate music awards. It’s a great song. Amazing beat, good lyrical flow. It’s just a really nice song. NOT my personal favorite from all the ones in the film, but it’s near the top.
67. “Music to My Eyes,” from A Star Is Born
Another Star Is Born. I’m telling you. Get comfy. There’s a lot of them coming. This one I really like because it matches the progression of the narrative. It starts with Bradley Cooper singing the first verse and singing this beautiful love song. And then Gaga just takes over in the second verse, and it’s just perfect. And then they sing together at the end — it’s so good.
66. “I See the Light,” from Tangled
The songs from Tangled are like, good-plus, but nothing all-time memorable. However, this is the closest song that approaches the level of all the other great Disney stuff from all-time. Still not totally as memorable as the others, but in terms of pure songwriting, it can be in that discussion. It’s Alan Menken, so of course it’s well-written. But this is just a beautiful song. This is a song that, for a few years, I kept forgetting how good it was until I went back and heard it again. It’s the best song from Tangled by far, and is really the best song of this entire Disney era of movies, until Frozen (and then Moana). But really, the songs from Tangled are really the only Disney songs worth mentioning since like, Tarazan. (I know Princess and the Frog had songs, but they’re just kind of okay to me.)
65. “Buddy’s Business,” from Brawl in Cell Block 99
Yeah, Buddy. I was all over this song from the minute I heard it over the end credits of this movie. First off… it’s the fucking O’Jays! How amazing is that? Craig Zahler is friends with the O’Jays and just makes music with them. It’s just a wonderful throwback 70s tune that perfectly encapsulates the kind of grindhouse/B-movie type experience the film tries to give you. Not everyone knows about this movie, though anyone who’s been around me the past few years has definitely heard me recommend this. I’ve personally shown this to like five people, all of whom at the end went, “Oh my god, I loved that.” Because it’s just a badass, fun movie. Basically it’s a prison movie. Vince Vaughn ends up in jail, and basically things start to get worse and worse over the course of the film. What’s great about it is that it doesn’t start where you expect, doesn’t always go the route you’d expect, and doesn’t really put him in the ‘prison’ type situation you’d expect him to be in until really the last hour of the movie. But trust me, it’s worth it. The film gets further away from reality as it goes along, and by the time you get to that third act, you’re just all in.
Plus, it’s the only film I’ve seen that fully utilizes Vince Vaughn’s 6’5” frame. They shoot him full frame in this movie, like Fred Astaire, and trust me when I tell you this — you believe he’s going to kick the shit out of anyone he gets his hands on. I can’t say enough great things about this movie, and this song is just an amazing companion piece to it that I love to listen to on its own. But the kicker is when other people hear it, like it, and then I get to talk about how great the movie is on top of it. That’s the total package for me.
64. “Start a Riot,” from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Aww yeah. This is my absolute favorite song from this movie. This song is straight fire. The ultimate club ‘get the fuck up’ song. You could play this at any party when it’s really hopping and get everyone totally on board. This song is perfect. You can put this on to get hyped for a workout, or to get your energy up for the day, or if you just wanna go nuts in your car. It’s just an amazing all around song. To me, this is the best thing the Spider-Verse soundtrack’s produced.
63. “Who Did That to You?” from Django Unchained
This is the best of all the Django songs. And you know it within two notes. It also shows up at the best possible spot within the movie, right as Django blows up the mining company guys and escapes so he can go back and take care of everyone else back on the Candie estate. It’s just a perfect song for that moment and just a great song in general. I heard this before I really knew who John Legend was. I’d heard him as guest vocals on a couple of other tracks I liked, but never really knew who he was (keep in mind I’m like 3-8 years behind on just about all current music). But aside from that, I just loved the song. This was the one of all the Django songs I’d have nominated that year. And I think they submitted four of them.
62. “Glasgow (No Place Like Home),” from Wild Rose
This is our most recent song on this list. I mention that only because we’re coming off this year and it’s fresh in my head. And I remember lamenting just a few months ago how weak the crop of songs from 2019 were. And now, having some time to reflect, this song towers above the rest as clearly the best thing written during it. So of course it’s fitting that the song got no Oscar nominations and the film got relegated to the scrap heap, really only getting notice in the UK.
For those who haven’t seen it (and you should, because it turns Jessie Buckley into an immediate star. So when you see her in something in the next two years and think that’s what did it, you’re wrong. It was this), it’s about a Scottish woman who dreams of being a country singer and going to Nashville. So the film is about her trying to be a mother to her kids and also fulfill her dream. And this is the song she sings at the end, when (as the song indicates) she realizes that she’s happy right where she is. And it’s just a beautifully-written song (written by Mary Steenburgen!), and Jessie Buckley absolutely destroys it. That vocal performance really puts it over the top, if you had any doubt that it was a terrific song.
61. “Happy,” from Despicable Me 2
I mean, of course. How could you not put this song on a list of the best original songs of the past decade? The problem is separating the fact that this song was a #1 hit on like, every radio station for about a year but also technically is an original song from a movie. It was written for Despicable Me 2 and is more memorable than literally everything in that entire movie and its sequel (and the Minions spinoffs, for that matter). It was nominated for an Oscar! It’s hard to rank this higher just because it feels like it fully crossed over into just ‘music’ and isn’t just a ‘film’ song, but I still need to show it the proper respect. It’s a really likable song and just so infectious. It’s hard not to want to groove along with it and it’s hard not to feel better whenever it comes on.
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