Mike’s Favorite Original Songs of the Decade (50-41)
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:
50. “Learn Me Right,” from Brave
We’ve hit the top 50. And we start with a song that just makes me really happy whenever it comes on. Similar to the other song from Brave, “Touch the Sky,” this one’s just a joy to listen to. It’s somehow the perfect blend of Gaelic and Mumford & Sons. I just smile every time this comes on.
49. “Too Far Gone,” from A Star Is Born
One of the underrated great Star Is Born songs. I know “Maybe It’s Time” gets all the notice as the one that underscores the arc of Bradley Cooper’s character, but this one… jesus. This one’s like a plea from his character to stay alive. “Please don’t let me be too fucked up to have a happy ending,” disguised as a love song. It’s beautiful. I’d probably have it higher if it were more than a minute and a half long. But man, do I love it, especially that “set me free” refrain. This might be the best singing Cooper does in the entire movie.
48. “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got),” from The Great Gatsby
In a way, this is the epitome of the Gatsby soundtrack. It’s the most balls-out song, and the one I remember most as having the craziest party scene attached to it. It’s the perfect blend of old and new (which… yes… themes) and is just a joyful call to party. And if it sounds like that LMFAO song, it’s because one of its members made the song. That’s why it captures that spirit. Mostly I just love seeing it in the context of the film, just people going nuts in this crazy, somehow choreographed giant party.
47. “I See Fire,” from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Somehow an Ed Sheeran song has made my top 50. But shit, this song really stood out to me when I heard it. Especially given that it comes right as the fucking movie ENDS right as it’s getting good. And yet, I heard this song, and it wasn’t that bad. It feels like a great Lord of the Rings song. Plus it’s kind of impressive that he saw the movie, wrote the song and recorded it in the same day. That’s kinda cool. Plus dude’s playing all the damn instruments himself! But really, I just like that it’s a nice companion song to the film. Five of the six films have that one really great song accompanying them (I guess Two Towers does too, but I wouldn’t call “Gollum’s Song” on the level of the others).
46. “Genius Girl,” from The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Definitely the one no one was expecting on here. This is probably the only song in the top 50 (maybe there’s one more) that almost nobody could have called. I’ve said it a lot that I’m not a Noah Baumbach fan and that I find his films cold, with unlikable characters (except when they’re written and performed by Greta Gerwig), but this song is one of the few really beautiful moments I’ve found in his work. It’s just a nice moment with Adam Sandler and Grace Van Patten at the piano. A father and daughter singing a song they wrote together when she was a kid. It’s really the chorus that blows me away. It’s a simple, beautiful song that most importantly gets performed in the movie and is one of my favorite musical film moments in film from this decade.
45. “Someone in the Crowd,” from La La Land
So when I sat down at a screening of this movie, before I really knew what I was in for, it took me about 15 minutes to really get situated and realize just what I was watching and how amazing it was. That opening traffic number was amazing, but I still wasn’t totally able to comprehend just how incredible it all was. And then this number happened, and it was that moment when they get to the party and everything slows down that I realized, “Oh, he’s gonna win Best Director for this.” You just saw true genius at work and just real heart and soul being put into the entire piece. The songs in this movie are just stunning. And I know people have problems with the movie for whatever reason, but as far as musicals go, it’s just great. The songs are all incredible and all beautifully staged. This one is particular is a nice number with Emma Stone and her roommates, and really shows off the film’s indifference to reality when it comes to musical numbers and its Jacques Demy influence, with the color coordination on the costumes and production design. It’s just the perfect song moment.
44. “The Last Goodbye,” from The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Ah, yes. The other Hobbit song. Sung by one of the original Rings actors, which adds a touch of beauty/sadness to it. Especially since he’s the one who sings in Return of the King during that battle before Denethor throws himself off the roof. And the song acts as a nice ballad for fallen soldiers while also as a nice farewell to Middle Earth. Because it’s clear — this is it. This is the last one. We’re done here. I know they’re trading off “Into the West” a lot, but I don’t care. It’s a beautiful song. And if you grew up with this franchise, as I did, there’s an extra layer of feeling with the whole thing.
43. “A Beautiful Sea,” from Sing Street
Aw yeah. We’re getting back to Sing Street. There are a lot of great songs in the film, and they really haven’t appeared thus far, because of course they’re all gonna rank near the very top. They’re, to me, what original film music is all about. This is probably the least remembered song from the band. It’s the one when they’re performing by the water and end up jumping in. It’s a really nice song.
42. “Young and Beautiful,” from The Great Gatsby
This is basically the ‘theme’ of Gatsby. There are a lot of songs, but this one felt like the one you heard the most and the one that sort of got associated with the movie. Mostly because it’s Daisy’s theme. And it’s the one that plays over her scenes with Gatsby. Plus it’s Lana Del Rey, and the orchestration really soars behind her. It’s clearly the one you’d remember most from the film. NOT my favorite, however. And we’ll get to why that is in a few days. However, a beautiful song that perfectly captures Daisy as a character and represents the longing within the Gatsby character to reconnect with her. I thought we were gonna get a lot of these Lana Del Rey original tunes in movies based on the first couple of years of the decade, but then it didn’t happen. Mostly she’s just done covers of other songs (“Once Upon a Dream,” “Season of the Witch”). Oh well, we’ll always have this one.
41. “Mystery of Love,” from Call Me By Your Name
Oh, this song is so beautiful. It’s hard not to be moved when you hear it. Sufjan Stevens wrote a really terrific song that somehow perfectly captures every piece of emotion you feel while watching this film. More so than “Visions of Gideon,” which plays over that incredible final shot of Timothée Chalamet, this song just somehow captures it all — Rome, romance, first love, longing… it’s just all there. You can’t talk about original film songs from this decade without this song. You just can’t.
– – – – – – – – – –