Ten songs that got a second life through movies or TV

[Another list from contributor Adam Morrison. – AC]

The right song in the right scene sticks with us. And nothing says the song has to be new, or even new to us. Let’s take a look at the huge variety of songs that have gotten a second (or third) life through features in films or TV shows.

1. R.E.M. released “Strange Currencies” in 1994. 28 years later, after The Bear’s second season featured it, the band rereleased the song with a new music video, plus an EP including three versions of the track.

2. After “Running Up That Hill” was used to great effect in the fourth season of Stranger Things, the Kate Bush song actually reentered the UK Singles Chart. It made it up to the chart’s #1 spot in June 2022, 37 years after it’s initial release.

3. Also from Stranger Things season 4, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” plays a key part in an exciting scene. Metallica said in a press release, “We were all stoked to see the final result and when we did we were totally blown away…” The thrash classic originally came out in 1986.

4. Barbie is a universally acclaimed film that came out just this year. In the movie, Matchbox 20’s 1997 single “Push” gets performed when Ken adopts it as a patriarchal anthem. You can find the performance by Ryan Gosling on the movie’s soundtrack. Seriously, it’s a more than passable cover.

5. Journey released “Don’t Stop Believin'” as a single in 1981. And like so many slasher villains introduced in films that decade, this song will not die. It was used for the White Sox 2005 World Series championship. In 2007, it soundtracked the final scene in The Sopranos. It was featured in the jukebox musical Rock of Ages on Broadway from 2009 to 2015, plus the 2012 film. It was covered on Glee in 2009. “Don’t Stop Believin'” will never stop coming back.

6. Not only was “Something in the Way” featured prominently in The Batman, it might have had an influence on the film’s writing. “When I write, I listen to music,” filmmaker Matt Reeves tells Empire. “As I was writing the first act, I put on [the song] … That’s when it came to me that, rather than make Bruce Wayne the playboy version we’ve seen before, there’s another version who had gone through a great tragedy and become a recluse.” It worked for the film, starting back when it soundtracked the trailers.

7. Medical drama House, M.D. ran for eight seasons, from 2004 to 2012. It’s opening theme music was Massive Attack’s 1998 single “Teardrop.” The vocals are by ex-Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser.

8. In 1975, Queen released their long, clever single “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In 1992, Wayne (Mike Myers) and his friends rocked out to the song’s heavier parts in their car, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” became new again.

9. Iggy Pop’s 1997 single “Lust for Life” has always rocked, but it took being featured in the 1996 film Trainspotting for most people to realize that. It got rereleased as a single, and the interest it generated led to a greatest hits album getting released.

10. If you’ve seen Fight Club, you know the scene in which the Pixies song “Where is My Mind?” plays. It’s a bit on the nose, but in the kind of way that makes you smile.

Anything you can add to this list? Please do so in the comments!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38031 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Ten songs that got a second life through movies or TV

  • Gotta Get Up by Harry Nilsson I think got a decent boost from Russian Doll season one.

  • “Road” by Nick Drake. I heard at the end of an episode of “Third Watch” where the opening guitar riff is played as a character who is a paramedic that just provided drugs to patient to commit suicide walks down a dark street contemplating what he did. The mood of the scene matches the mood of the song and it was quite powerful to me.

    But I also read Volkswagen used the song in a commercial where the question was are they trying to sell the car or sell the song?

  • My Sharona by The Knack in Reality Bites. Of course, the soundtrack for that movie is rife with great music…but this song really stands out in my mind when I think of it.
    And You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate in The Full Monty 🙂


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