Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sunday Best: Top 10 Queen Songs in Movies

In honor of Bohemian Rhapsody premiering this weekend, I thought I would look at the best uses of Queen's music in movies.  Queen always had a very distinctive style that would tend to kick the movies into overdrive. 

So here are the Top 10 Queen songs in movies.  To be clear, these aren't necessarily the best Queen songs of all time.  But these are the 10 best uses of them in film.

10.  "WE WILL ROCK YOU!"  - A Knight's Tale

This is an incredibly silly movie like Ella Enchanted, which tries to bring an anachronistic modern style to a medieval world.  Yet, the opening does a good job of transitioning you into this strange amalgam by getting your blood pumping with this sports anthem.

9.  "THE SHOW MUST GO ON." - Moulin Rouge! 

Jim Broadbent does a wonderful turn as the manipulative theater owner who is overwhelmed with guilt over putting the show ahead of the health and the love of the people in his life.  Queen's song is surprisingly apropos of everything this scene needs.

8.  "ONE VISION" - Iron Eagle

OK, I will admit that after watching Iron Eagle, I would listen to rock music while playing After Burn on my Sega Master System.  I haven't watched the movie in a while and I'm sure it would come off as incredibly silly today.  But watching this teenager fly a near-suicide mission into enemy territory to save his father while getting into dog fights with his F-16... well, I thought it was better than Top Gun.  And Queen's music helped cement that in my memory.

7.  "PRINCES OF THE UNIVERSE" -Highlander 

I think it speaks to the power of Queen's music that the opening of the film is just a simple credits sequence against a black backdrop but with this song playing at full volume.  Without having to see any visuals, the song lets you know the tone, tenor, and themes of the movie and primes you to enjoy what you are about to see, no matter how low the budget is.

6. "DON'T STOP ME NOW!" - Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Wright is a visual genius of a director; he is someone who does not waste shots but uses every visual the tell the story.  But he also is excellent at incorporating music as part of the narrative, as he did in his most recent Baby Driver.  But this sequence at the Winchester is funny, absurd, and scary all at the same time while Queen heightens all of those conflicting emotions.

5. "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS" - Revenge of the Nerds

This is a raunchy film that is actually incredibly morally corrosive, even by 1980's standards.  But through all of that raunch it has a surprisingly heart-warming and uplifting ending.  Gilbert's speech about being an outcast always hit home for me.  And then the Queen song hit exactly the right note, starting with the sad piano solo and then building to ecstatic crescendo.

4.  "WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER" - Highlander

Highlander is the only movie on here twice, not only because of how many Queen songs are on the soundtrack, but also because of the diverse ways in which they are used.  This may be the saddest ballad that Queen ever wrote and it is woven into the story so perfectly that it elevates the immortal pain of Connor MacCloud that stays with you and reminds you that immortality can be a curse

3.  "FLASH GORDON THEME" - Flash Gordon

That thumping base that builds the anticipation followed by that crash of energy as they sing the hero's name followed by the harmonious scream of ecstasy... this song is so over-the-top that only Queen could pull it off.  How can you not love a song with lyrics like "FLASH!... AAHHHAA.... HE'S A MIRACLE!"  Quite possibly the best comic hero theme song ever.

2.  "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY" - Wayne's World

I will admit that I was completely ignorant of Queen as a band (though I was familiar with some of their songs), until I saw this movie.  This movie captured how ordinary people reacted to Queen's music in our daily lives of hanging out with friends and driving around town.  It showed how Queen could make our lives just a little more epic and fun.

1.  "UNDER PRESSURE" - Grosse Point Blank

This is a perfect union of rock music and visual storytelling.  Martin Blank is going through his existential crisis as a hit man at his 10 year class reunion.  But this one moment of really looking at a baby for the first time and seeing the miracle of life is a fantastic film moment.  Watch Cusack's performance as you feel the wheels in his head turning and the wall around his heart breaking through like the desperate emotional crescendo of the song.  And that is the power of Queen's music: it can break through and hit you right in the heart.


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