The greatest movie music moment of all time is the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs, when Michael Madsen lops a poor dude’s ear off to ‘Stuck in The Middle With You’ by Steeler’s Wheel. Director Quentin Tarantino is in my humble opinion the greatest director in the history of film when it comes to picking soundtracks for his movies. Noone picks a better song, for a better moment than Tarantino. Because of this however, he isn’t on this list (much) because the world knows and realises just how incredible he is. These are the Top 10 Most Underrated and Incredible Movie Music Moments, featuring films like Spring Breakers, The Devil’s Rejects, Southland Tales, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and more!
Major Spoiler Alert for All Films on this list!
#10. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Threshold
I thought long and hard which music moment stands out the most to me on Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and there are two definitive ones — the Threshold rock-off and opening credits sequence. It was a nailbiter but I just love how Edgar Wright directs this battle using the power of rock to slay electronic music. So much so that the music conjures gigantic monsters to fight over the crowd. ‘Threshold’ is a dynamic and blistering punk rock sledgehammer and the way Michael Cera kicks into that breakdown to summon an electric gorilla is one of the coolest things you’ll ever see at the movies.
#9. Southland Tales – All These Things That I’ve Done
Richard Kelly’s bizarre sci-fi follow-up to his cult classic Donnie Darko was so weird, so wonderful and so forgotten that it’s almost a crime when you have sequences like this… Justin Timberlake plays an army veteran who goes unconsious and begins to lip sync The Killers’ ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ while a bunch of creepy nurses dance around him. It’s such an eccentric scene, even for a film as strange as this one and with a massive cast of A-Listers and B-Listers and C-Listers all rolled into one post-apocalyptic sci-fi action comedy. I loved this movie and I know it’s not that great, but it’s OK to love something that makes you smile and even though I don’t know what the hell is going on in this scene – I do know that I adore it.
#8. Django Unchained – Freedom
Oh my god this film has so many incredible soundtrack moments… But you knew that – you knew that because this is a freaking Quentin Tarantino movie. But there’s one scene in it that sticks with me the most, maybe even more than those classic moments in Pulp Fiction, and it has to deal with a flashback sequence that is so powerful and so moving, I actually think it could be one of the best things he’s ever come up with. When Django finds some of his former slave-owners whipping a young lady, he remembers when his wife Broomhilda was done the same injustice. The song ‘Freedom’ is damn emotional already, but then you add Kerry Washington’s screams during the song — I begin to lose it, every, single, time. No other filmmaker can pull this off with his soundtrack selections like Tarantino – he just nails it again and again. This is the scene that drives the entire plot and I mean all of it, because it establishes Django and Broomhilda’s relationship. Absolute perfection.
#7. Kick Ass – Banana Splits
Director Matthew Vaughn might be, just might be the third best director on the planet when it comes to picking a damn good tune to accompany an amazing scene in his movies… (just behind Tarantino and Martin Scorsese). The introduction of Hit Girl is one of those scenes: featuring a small child wearing a superhero outfit who proceeds to brutally slice and dice a room packed with drug dealers before (showing the titular hero just how amateur he is). The Dickies’ ‘Banana Splits’ is such a fun, upbeat and killer punk rock accompaniment to the slaughter taking place in that apartment. The fact that we’re seeing this little kid murdering all these adults with that song blaring in the background makes the impact even more hysterical and shocking.
#6. Spring Breakers – Everytime
Director Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is a divisive film to say the least. You either love it or you don’t understand it… But what you can’t deny in either scenario is how memorable James Franco’s portrayal of the wannabe gangster Alien is. The sequence where he’s playing a piano rendition of the Britney Spears ballad ‘Everytime’ by the pool with his pink face-masked girls wielding guns, followed by a slo-motion recap of all their violent hi-jinks is one of the craziest and coolest scenes of 2013 (and maybe ever to be honest). It’s easily the best moment of the movie and I don’t think I’ll ever hear Britney Spears on a soundtrack and absolutely fall in love with it ever again.
#5. Dawn of The Dead – The Man Comes Around
Zack Snyder’s Dawn of The Dead remake is so much better than it has any right to be and after one of the craziest, most chaotic and insane film intros of all time, he sets up a news montage of the world going to hell using Johnny Cash’s ‘The Man Comes Around’. Cash’s acoustic jam about inevitable death is so perfect, so startling and so spot-on that it sets the tone for what is one of the greatest zombie films ever made. The song has been used before in several other films since then, but none have been as memorable as this opening credits killfest. The apocalypse has never sounded so delightful.
#4. American Psycho – It’s Hip to be Square
Now…. This scene might not deserve a spot on this list, because everyone knows about the Christian Bale murdering Jared Leto to Huey Lewis and The News’ ‘Hip to Be Square’ by now. It’s probably the most mainstream movie music moment on my top 10, but American Psycho as quotable as it has become, is still one helluva dark and twisted indie film. The way Bale dances away from his stereo and picks up that axe before driving it into Leto’s head and proceeds to chop away while that 80’s pop hit is playing, is SO good and such an important scene for me that it would be a crime to not include it, even if it has become more recognisable over the years. Remember the Weird Al parody clip from Funny Or Die where Huey himself picks up the axe? Yeah maybe this one shouldn’t be on here – but deal with it.
#3. Kingsman: The Secret Service – Free Bird
Matthew Vaughn part two! That’s right, he’s back and he’s using Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’ to accompany one of the most action packed and violent movie moments in the history of film. Without ‘Free Bird’, I can’t imagine this scene of Colin Firth systematically killing a church full of psychotic religious fanatics being so thrilling. The scene is so brutal and so exquisite that there may never be a pairing as remarkable as the Church Scene in Kingsman. The sequel tried to match it with an Elton John classic, but it doesn’t even come close to the carnage we witnessed in that blood-soaked church.
#2.Watchmen – The Times They Are a Changin’
Zack Snyder makes this list twice because of his penchant for crafting memorable opening credits and Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a Changin’ is his finest moment. It’s probably the best sequence that he’s ever put to film. The alternate history of the United States unfolding to that acoustic work of art is so dead-on, that I dare to say this could be the greatest intro credits sequence ever. It’s just a shame that Watchmen didn’t draw the kind of theatrical audience it most definitely would have today in the wake of a slew of R-Rated superhero films dominating the cinema.
#1. The Devil’s Rejects – Free Bird
Apparently ‘Free Bird’ is a really great song to play while a bunch of people are being murdered. This is the second use of it on the list and in my opinion the best. Rob Zombie will never film a better scene than the ending of The Devil’s Rejects when his trio of murderers on the run decide to go out in a blaze of glory while charging a police barricade on the highway, guns-a-blazing. What makes this sequence so moving is how Zombie builds the tension simply by using the structure of the song and no other audio cues. It starts out slowly and then builds to that guitar solo which happens right when the bullets fly. There is no sound onscreen aside from ‘Free Bird’ until the movie cuts to black and we hear the bullets fly, AFTER everyone is already dead. Not only is this easily the most underrated movie music moment ever, I think it’s the greatest use of music in ANY movie period.