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Featured Playlist: Top Movies about Music

Many great movies have great music to heighten the emotion but, by far, movies about great music top the list for me especially those that take the audience through the creative process and the mind of its creator, the musician. The featured playlist “Top movies about Music” presents this category of movies that I love in reverse order through a song that represents the movie the best. There happens to be only 9 that made my list. Let the countdown begin. Format below.

ranking / movie / song / artist

I also share the song background for each track. This list is only comprised of movies I’ve seen so please send me any suggestions for movies about music you would like to share.

9 / August Rush / Bari Improv / Kaki King

Bari Improv is the music August plays when he first experiments with a musical instrument. He slaps the guitar strings to create the unique sound which struck me as truly researched when observing my son play his guitar for the first time. He just lays it in front of him and hits it with his palm like a drum. The close-ups of the hands playing the guitar belong to indie musician and “queen of the acoustic guitar” Kaki King.

Dueling Guitars, the song for yesterday and today, is in the scene between August, now a street musician, and his father who is unaware that he has a son and that this is his son.

http://augustrushmovie.warnerbros.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Rush http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0426931/ http://www.myspace.com/kakiking

8 / Ray / Georgia on my Mind / Ray Charles

“Georgia on my Mind” was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Stuart Gorrell (lyrics). Ray Charles made it a crossover hit after recording it in 1960. In 1979, it became the official state song of Georgia. Atticus loves, loves this song largely because it is the song that Christopher has sung for him since he was born to soothe him.


7 / Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist / Very Loud / Shout Out Louds

“In the end of 2002 a demo version of the song "Very Loud" was included on Swedish music magazine Sonic's cd sampler and quickly became the most asked about song in the history of the magazine.” [1] It later shows up in the teen comedy Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist about the New York City indie music scene. I don't recall the scene during which it was played. It is just a great song I rediscovered. Oh well, I'll just have to watch it again to find out.

http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/nickandnorah/ http://www.shoutoutlouds.com/
[1] http://www.accessallareas.net.au/artists/Shout_Out_Louds.php

6 / Walk the Line / I Walk the Line / Johnny Cash

“I Walk the Line” was first recorded in 1956 at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The tune was inspired by an accidental backward play on his tape recorder when Cash was in the Air Force. The freight train rhythm, used in most Johnny Cash songs, is evident with the snare drum sound created from a piece of paper in his guitar strings. Cash originally wanted the song to be a slow ballad but producer Sam Phillips suggested a faster arrangement which was met with success by country fans. Because of all the key changes, he hums whenever he sings this song to get the pitch.

http://www.walkthelinedvd.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_the_Line http://www.sunstudio.com/

5 / Music and Lyrics / Way Back into Love / Hugh Grant and Haley Bennett

The movie revolves around the writing of this song "Way Back into Love" with Hugh Grant's character Alex composing the music and Drew Barrymore's character Sophie, a poet, writing the lyrics. It is also the song that brings them together and, yes, fall in love. There are many interesting moments where the audience sees the depth of the songwriting process, so when the audience finally hears the song pieced together, it's a culminating moment and surprisingly doesn't disappoint. It actually impresses. The song was written by Adam Schlesinger.


4 / School of Rock / School of Rock / School of Rock {Jack Black and Class}

In the movie, "School of Rock" is a song written by young band member Zack Mooneyham, the lead guitarist. It is performed at the end of the movie when the class skips out of school to compete in a local battle of the bands.


3 / Hustle and Flow / It’s Hard Out Here for A Pimp / Three 6 Mafia

“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” is exactly what an Oscar-nominated song should be — integral to the film — not just something to listen to as the credits roll by, or thrown in at the last minute just to vie for that extra nomination.” [1] The song represents a genre of music that could only come from the south. Crunk just came out of people looking to release themselves, and in a hard environment, it was how they had fun. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Memphians Three 6 Mafia became the first hip hop group to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song and the first hip hop artists to perform at the ceremony. The movie was directed and written by Memphian Craig Brewer.


2 / Once / Falling Slowly / Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglová

“Falling Slowly” is an Academy Award winning song by real musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglová. In the movie, this song is the first song they perform together sparking a deeper friendship. There was some controversy over the song being nominated for Best Original Song since it was previously released in the 2006 album The Cost by Glen Hansard's band The Frames but since it was originally written for the movie, it was still eligible.

http://www.oncesoundtrack.com/ http://www.foxsearchlight.com/once/ http://www.myspace.com/theframesofficial

1 / Amadeus / The Magic Flute and Requiem Mass in D Minor ~ Confutatis and Lacrimosa/ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart composed The Magic Flute and the Requiem Mass simultaneously causing him both exhaustion and his wife to leave him with their son. He completed The Magic Flute and collapsed during its premiere. Music rival Antonio Salieri, in disguise, had commissioned Mozart to write the Requiem in secret so that Salieri could take credit for its composition. Mozart's health worsens, so a desperate Salieri transcribes the Requiem as an exhausted Mozart dictates. There are 5 parts to the Requiem. In this scene, Mozart dictates the Confutatis {When Those Cursed Enter Flames}. Mozart requests a rest, then the next morning, after briefly seeing his wife and son return, passes away. The Requiem Mass, Lacrimosa {Mournful Day} plays during Mozart's funeral scene. Mozart never finished the Requiem Mass. It was later completed by Franz Xaver Süßmayr, a student of Salieri and copyist for Mozart on 2 compositions. The Requiem Mass has also been considered as Mozart's best work.



  1. though not a true story, Almost Famous is a good movie about music

  2. Thanks. I'll have to rewatch it. I am not sure I paid attention to it the first time.

  3. Carradine's "I'm Easy" from Altman's Nashville is one that has always stuck with me. It is one of my worst ear worms (I will hum/half-sing for days) and, peculiarly, deep down, I too have always wanted to serenade Lily Tomlin. BTW, glad to see the addition of Iron and Wine to your playlist--very chill. WM

  4. trying to play the chill songs on sundays and mondays. the dance mixes on friday and saturday to rev me up for the weekend or to daydream about going out partying on the weekend.


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