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10 Songs That Transformed Iconic TV and Movie Scenes

by Estelle
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

The reason the final dance in Dirty Dancing is so great is not only because of Patrick Swayze’s moves but also because the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” perfectly complements the scene. Sometimes, movie and TV producers hit the nail square on the head when it comes to choosing certain songs for hard-hitting or memorable scenes, and the ten scenes on this list are perfect examples of this.

Warning: Potential spoilers ahead.

Related: Top 10 Behind-the-Scenes Facts about Popular Christmas Movies

10 The 100 – “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”

The 100 Season 2 Ending (Bellamy and Clarke) (1080p WEB DL)

The 100 ended on September 30, 2020, to the dismay of fans worldwide who had been glued to their screens watching the post-apocalyptic TV series for seven seasons. While viewers were divided on social media about which scene made the deepest impact during the long lifespan of the series, most agreed that a particular scene in part two of the season 2 finale was a strong contender.

The group that had been through so much walked into Camp Jaha while a specially recorded version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” played in the background. The song was recorded by Raign and perfectly suits the “coming home” moment in which Wick carries Raven and Jasper finally finds his goggles.[1]

9 Supernatural – “Oh Death”

Supernatural Death’s Intro

Despite all the new options on Netflix, HBO, and other streaming services, Supernatural remains a TV staple. Fans prefer watching episodes on demand, especially after the show ended in 2020. The series features many wonderful, insane (and insanely funny) moments, including the creation of “Deanmon,” the family dinner that happened during the 300th episode, the entire “Fan Fiction” episode, and any scene featuring the Impala.

One of the most memorable scenes, however, takes place in the penultimate episode of season 5, in which Death is introduced. The Grim Reaper arrives in a white Cadillac and strolls down a street in Chicago, in slow motion, as Jen Titus’s cover of “Oh Death” plays. The entire scene is less than a minute and a half long but makes a lasting impact on viewers.[2]

8 Thor: Ragnarok – “Immigrant Song”

Thor Epic bridge scene (Thor Ragnarok)

“Tell me, brother, what were you the god of again?”

Those words ignited a much-needed spark in Thor after he became seemingly powerless against the onslaught of the Goddess of Death, Hela, in Thor: Ragnarok. Loki can be seen smirking, knowing full well what’s about to happen. As the scene extends, Thor, in full God of Thunder mode, descends upon his enemy while “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin plays full blast. He thunders through the lot of them, strengthened by bolts of lightning. What follows is an epic fight scene featuring Thor and several other characters as they battle Hela’s minions.

It is the very definition of a badass movie moment—certainly one of the best in a superhero flick and made all that much more excellent with the backing of the great Led Zeppelin track.[3]

7 The Graduate – “The Sound of Silence”

The Graduate movie ending (The Sound of Silence)

The 1967 classic The Graduate has one of those endings that moviegoers still argue over. Some believe that it’s a classic runaway bride scenario, while others think that the ending scene is slightly sinister because of the expression change on the faces of the happy runaway couple.

It starts quite intensely as well, with Ben screaming for Elaine in desperation, leading to an angry reaction by the wedding guests. She finally shouts back and runs to Ben while he fights off an attempt by several guests to keep him away from the bride. Elaine gets slapped, and Ben brandishes a cross. Still, eventually, they escape, hopping on a bus to start their lives together.

It is at this point that their expressions slowly change from elated to neutral to almost shell-shocked as the deeper meaning of the film’s ending takes hold. At this moment, “The Sound of Silence” starts playing, perfectly highlighting the scene as Ben and Elaine steal glances at one another and eventually just keep staring ahead as the bus speeds along and the credits start rolling.[4]

6 Say Anything – “In Your Eyes”

Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes – Say Anything

Glee copied the infamous scene from the film Say Anything but didn’t come close to conveying the emotion evoked by Lloyd Dobler holding a boombox over his head as “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel plays.

The scene starts with Diane and Lloyd (played by Ione Skye and John Cusack) walking down the street and embracing before she goes inside her home. The movie cuts to different scenes of the happy couple, as the song keeps playing until it gets to the part where a lovestruck Lloyd is standing outside Diane’s house holding the boombox up over his head in an attempt to get Diane to come to the bedroom window after she broke up with him. The song holds a special meaning for the couple as it was also playing when they became intimate.

The movie tells the classic tale of the underachiever falling for the valedictorian and the many obstacles the couple must overcome to be together. The boombox scene sets it apart from other comedy-drama films, however, sheerly because of how memorable it is.[5]

5 Riverdale – “The End of the World”

Riverdale 6×22 End of world song before comet.

Riverdale is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially when it comes to the numerous musical episodes scattered throughout its seven seasons. However, with the song choice for a pivotal scene of the final episode of season six, the show more than makes up for the previous lackluster song performances. In this one, the characters sing the Billie Eilish cover version of “The End of the World” while they prepare to be hit by Bailey’s Comet.

The scene has the main cast performing the song alongside their loved ones as they await their fate. The performance culminates in Cheryl Blossom harnessing her Phoenix power to try and “melt” the comet.

The acting and the song blend perfectly to make for a strong and unforgettable scene as the show sets itself up for a new storyline in the next season. As insane as most of Riverdale’s storylines are, this scene was a breath of fresh air without any crazy twists and turns. Well, except for what happens after the scene has played out, of course.[6]

4 Almost Famous – “Tiny Dancer”

Almost Famous HD (Tiny Dancer Full Version)

Elton John has recorded some of the best songs in the world. Many of them have been used in movies over several decades, and all of them are instantly recognizable. One of his most famous tunes, “Tiny Dancer,” was used for an infamous scene in the 2000 movie Almost Famous, starring Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson.

The comedy-drama film centers around a teenage journalist who writes for Rolling Stone during the early 1970s while touring with a rock band and trying to get his first cover story published. Writer, director, and producer of the film, Cameron Crowe, confirmed that the movie was based on his own experience as a writer for the magazine.

Critics and moviegoers loved the film, especially the scene in which the members of the aforementioned rock band, Stillwater, are reunited on their tour bus after an argument the night before. The atmosphere is highly uncomfortable until the first few lyrics of “Tiny Dancer” break through the tension, and everyone starts singing along. This scene is still considered to be one of the best in movie history.[7]

3 Grey’s Anatomy – “Lost Without You”

Jo Supports a Patient – Grey’s Anatomy Season 15 Episode 19

Grey’s Anatomy is no stranger to tackling the tough issues of life. In season 15, a heartbreaking episode titled “Silent All These Years” depicted the aftermath of the sexual assault of a woman named Abby and how the image of her attacker haunted her.

In an incredible scene, backed by the haunting song “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings, Abby is transferred to the OR for surgery. At the same time, a group of female employees lines the hallway, lending their support and giving Abby the strength to banish the overwhelming flashbacks of her attack to help her feel safe. The operating room was also filled with female doctors, surgeons, and nurses.

At the table read for this episode, every woman in the room asked to be a part of the scene, including non-actresses. They were willing to give up a full day’s pay to be included in this powerful and important part of the show.[8]

2 Stranger Things – “Master of Puppets”

Stranger Things 4 | Eddie Munson’s Upside Down Guitar Scene | Netflix

After three long years, the fourth season of Stranger Things finally graced our screens again in 2022. And immediately, everyone was gushing about the song “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush, which played during a tense scene featuring Max.

But a strong rival to this incredible moment is the scene in which newcomer Eddie Munson crushes his version of “Master of Puppets” by Metallica while trying to keep the demobats from attacking his friends as red lightning lights up the eerie night sky behind him. Eddie shredded the guitar solo before the demobats finally overwhelmed him, and he sacrificed his life to save the others who were with him in the Upside Down.

Much like the unexpected Neverending Story interlude in the season three finale, the music of season four will be played on repeat for a long time to come.[9]

1 A Star Is Born – “Always Remember Us This Way”

Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way (from A Star Is Born) (Official Music Video)

The remake of A Star Is Born, featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, surprised moviegoers in the best way possible. Everyone knew that Gaga could sing but was equally blown away by Cooper’s talent, especially during the “Shallow” number.

There are several fantastic song performances in the movie apart from “Shallow.” One of the standout performances from Gaga happens when Cooper’s character, Jack, encourages her character, Ally, to sing an original song in front of a crowd. “Always Remember Us This Way” is a moving ballad with wonderful lyrics, including the following lines:

“That Arizona sky burnin’ in your eyes
You look at me, and, babe, I wanna catch on fire
It’s buried in my soul like California gold
You found the light in me that I couldn’t find.”

The entire scene is wonderful, from the acting to the singing, and the crowd’s reaction in the movie was just about every moviegoer’s reaction as well.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.

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