22 Iconic Movie And TV Scenes Paired With Music That Had Everyone Listening To The Song On Repeat After


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Music is such a huge part of TV shows and movies, and finding the perfect song for a scene just makes it that much more memorable.

A character looking pained while saying "Poetic cinema"

Facets Video

Here are 22 of the absolutely undisputed (okay fine, you can dispute them in the comments) best music choices for TV and movie scenes of all time.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead! (Some recent examples are from Stranger Things Season 4, Euphoria Season 2, and The Batman.)

1.First, I gotta start with this absolutely incredible recent example: “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush on Stranger Things.

Max hears her friends screaming to her through a break in the upside down and then remembers good times with them before attacking vecna and running for them

It’s SO GOOD. It’s Max’s favorite song (which has been established as it’s already been played) and the tone of it (as well as the lyrics) just fit SO WELL with the scene. It’s literally one of the best music-to-scene matches I have EVER seen, and it makes a gut-wrenching, terrifying scene even more gut-wrenching and terrifying.


Watch the scene here:

2.Maybe I just really like characters running paired with songs about running, lol, but another of my fave examples is “Run Boy Run” by Woodkid while Five jumps into the future, discovers his home in ruins, and gets stuck there in The Umbrella Academy.

Five jumps into the future and says "not ready my ass" then jumps a few more times until he goes too far and sees his house in ruins

Once again, the lyrics match the scene (and episode title), but it’s the tone I like even more. The horror of Five jumping too far into the future and seeing his world destroyed is captured so well in this frantic and intense beat.


You can watch a bit of it here (and a longer version here), or head over to Netflix and skip to the first few minutes of Season 1, Episode 2:

3.And sorry, I gotta do another Umbrella Academy one — “Dancing in the Moonlight,” covered by Toploader, as Luther and Allison dance.

Luther and Allison dancing and kissing

I don’t even like Luther and Allison as a couple, but I LOVE this cover, and it makes even me think this moment is sweet. The music (and the lighting and editing and everything) help emphasize that this is truly a dream world for Luther and Allison and that they’re essentially not meant to be but for this one half-imaginary moment in time.


Watch the scene here:

4.I must be a big fan of covers, because another cover is #4 on this list — “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which was originally performed by Nirvana but was covered by Malia J in the harrowing opening credits of Black Widow.

Yelena and Natasha are pulled apart and natasha is told the red room is her home. then there are flashes of her being taught to shoot and watching cartoons

This haunting rendition of the song is perfect for what feels like one of the darkest Marvel moments. The opening credits follow Yelena and Natasha being separated and then trafficked and turned into spies, and the editing of the scene along with this song just gives it even more weight than it already has.


Watch the scene here:

5.Okay, promise not to laugh at me for this one. I stand by it. “Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo during that iconic Thanksgiving scene on Gossip Girl is absolutely one of the best uses of a song on TV ever.

Cece revealing Lily left her in August and Rufus saying she didn't come home until October; Jenny telling Eric she knows he sabotaged her at Cotillion; Blair accusing her mom of being pregnant; Maureen threatening to out Serena and Tripp's affair

You really gotta watch the scene to get the full effect. Like 10 secrets come out at once while everyone’s sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s really just everything that made GG good in one scene. The fun pop song about making mistakes and the truth coming out worked so well here.

The CW

Watch the scene here (the song starts at 0:11):

6.Back to another Marvel one — “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin in Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor gets his lightning powers and glows as he lands, and Valkyrie comes out of a ship

It’s already SUCH a badass moment when Hela asks “what were you the god of again?” and Thor summons his lightning powers, and it just gets that much better when the music starts. I love a good “song paired with fight scene” moment, and I cannot think of a better one than this.


Watch the scene here (the music starts at 2:20):

7.Honestly, any time a Led Zeppelin song plays in a movie or TV show, the result is awesome. Like “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” playing over the limo crash/other drama in the One Tree Hill Season 3 finale??? SO GOOD.

lucas discovers rachel, brooke or haley is pregnant, brooke tells peyton their friendship is over, dan sees "murdurer" painted on his wall, rachel and cooper's limo crashes, and nathan almost drowns jumping in to save them

This was really one of the wildest season finales. SO MUCH was going on, and yet it all worked and each thing blended together because of this song. The buildup of the scene worked perfectly with the buildup of the song until it hit its crescendo, when the limo actually fell i
n the water. One Tree Hill always had amazing music, but using a Led Zeppelin song in this high-stakes season finale was the absolute best music moment.

The WB

Watch the second half of the scene here:

8.I kind of feel like it’s cheating to include a musical on this list, but since the song itself isn’t originally from a musical, I’m counting it. I’m talking about “Voulez-Vous” by ABBA (covered by the cast of the film here) in Mamma Mia!

Sam asks Sophie how long she's known that he was her father, and Harry also says he's her father, and Sophie looks shocked

They took a fun ABBA song and made it the most anxiety-inducing song of all time. A lot of the comments on YouTube mention that it feels like a panic attack, and they’re right — the lights, quick upbeat music, dialogue, and action all perfectly blend into this pile of stressful chaos (and I mean that in the best way) as Sophie realizes she has three men who think they’re her father.

Universal Pictures

Watch the scene here:

9.Once again, you may laugh, but I gotta bring up one of the most unlikely entries on this list: “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler (covered by Jennifer Saunders) in Shrek 2. I’m not even joking when I call it the best cover of the song and the best use of music in a film.

the fairy godmother sings "I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night" as a giant gingerbread man breaks into the castle with Shrek

You already know how I feel about this one. The cover is incredible, and it’s set perfectly to what is honestly a very good action sequence. The Shrek franchise has a ton of memorable music moments, but this one is just beyond anything in an animated film, tbh.


Watch the scene here:

10.I guess I love anytime “Holding Out for a Hero” is used, though. Like when it was used in the second episode of Loki, when a bad Loki variant (I think that was revealed to be Sylvie) takes over and kills a ton of Minute Men.

one of the minutemen asks another what they're doing, and they say having fun, we then see a hooded figure

First of all, the song comes right after the announcer says “are we holding out for a hero?” Second of all, the scene takes place in the ’80s, so the song fits really well. Third of all, it’s a banger of a song. And finally, I love the expectation reversal of a killer slaughtering a ton of people for a song about heroes and “good men” (ESPECIALLY if this was Sylvie. Someone please lmk in the comments because I cannot remember).

Disney+ / Marvel

Watch the scene here:

11.Let’s show DC some love too. The Batman catapulted Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” back into the spotlight in the best way.

gordon tells bruce that the kid found his father, and bruce looks at the boy as he's questioned. later, there's a press conference on the mayor's death, and in a voiceover, bruce says he wishes he could say he's making a difference but he doesn't know

The song matched the noir, gothic, underground tone of the film amazingly, and honestly, it was one of the most memorable parts of the film to me. Right away, we could tell this wasn’t going to be like The Dark Knight or even any other superhero film.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Watch the scene here (starts at 0:19)

12.“Breathe Me” by Sia has been used in a ton of movies and shows, but I think it was best used in the series finale of Six Feet Under.

Claire looks up as she drives off into the desert and we see the deaths of a bunch of the family members

The Six Feet Under series finale is often brought up as an example of one of the best finales ever, with many pointing out its final sequence, which flashes to many of the characters’ deaths. That scene just would not be the same without one of the classic soft emo (is that a genre?) songs of the 2000s that perfectly captures the tone of the last few minutes of this award-winning show.


Watch the scene here:

13.Another great finale example (though this was just a season finale, not a series finale) was the combo of “September Song” by Agnes Obel and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by Ituana in the Season 1 finale of Big Little Lies.

the women watch their kids on the beach as waves crash and it flashes back to them fighting with Perry

Big Little Lies is another show with amazing music, and this finale in particular was flawless. But the best moment was seeing the women watching their children happily on the beach intercut with waves crashing and the women defending Celeste while a peaceful instrumental played — which eventually transitioned into “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” It was haunting yet also kind of…empowering? It just perfectly wrapped up everything.


You can watch the first part of it here:

14.Euphoria has incredible music, but I think I’ve got to go with Labrinth’s “I’m Tired” as the standout music moment of Season 2.

rue stumbles into a church and hugs the man singing, seeing herself hugging her father, as she tells him she's sorry for being a bad person and he assures her she's not and that he's still with her

This scene really and truly broke me. I love all the trippy stuff they do with Rue when she’s high, and while it’s usually emotionally impactful, it’s not always quite as heart-wrenching as this scene. I truly thought Rue had died. Her seeing her father was such a devastating yet sweet moment, and this song was perfect for it.

HBO / Via youtube.com

Watch the scene here:

15.If “I’m Tired” is Euphoria Season 2’s breakout music moment, then “All for Us” (by Labrinth and Zenda
ya) is for sure Season 1’s breakout music moment.

rue climbs up a pile of people, stands there and looks up, then falls

I always love when a show uses a song by one of the actors, and this one is really cool because it helps give the scene a sense of un-reality, especially with Rue mouthing the words. It’s super trippy and choreographed SO WELL to the music. I only screenshot the very end because there’s just SO MUCH going on in this scene and a lot of it is movement-based, so please watch the clip below if you forget the scene!


Watch the scene here:

16.Back to movies. Yet ANOTHER cover I love is “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong (covered by Cheryl K) right at the beginning of Crazy Rich Asians.

Eleanor is introduced as the new "lady of the house" at the hotel and then the title screen shows up

This was already a perfect song to introduce both Eleanor and the film — but covering the classic Motown song in Mandarin?!?! Absolutely inspired. It’s fun yet old-fashioned, and it sets the tone for the movie so, so well. I literally could not think of a better song to choose.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Watch the beginning of the scene here (music starts at 2:17):

17.Some covers don’t even have to have words to be incredible matches for scenes. Like when Anthony Willis covered “Toxic” by Britney Spears in Promising Young Woman as Cassie’s heading to complete the final part of her plan….SO SPINE-TINGLING AND HAUNTING!!!

Cassie walks to Al's house in her nurse's costume and wig and puts on her red heels

THIS IS SUCH A GOOD COVER. It makes the song so much more creepy while also being sexy and devious. Cassie walked into that house knowing she might not come back out, and that’s reflected in this song and her attitude walking in. She’s chosen this toxic revenge mission even though she knows it might kill her, and she’s fully committed and even almost satisfied with that. SO DAMN GOOD.

Focus Features

Watch the scene here:

18.Glee may have been known for its covers and music moments, but a lot of them did not exactly age well (lookin’ at you, “Gangnam Style” and “What Does the Fox Say”). But Jonathan Groff covering Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” as Quinn gives birth…honestly legitimately iconic.

Quinn in labor and Jesse St. James and his glee team sing at Nationals

Say what you will about Glee, but watching Quinn give birth while Jesse St. James and his team performed “Bohemian Rhapsody” flawlessly was peak TV. The performance and choreography were so good, and the music was so well timed to Quinn giving birth. Having Quinn scream things like “Let me go!” at the times the words are sung in the song was particularly genius.


Watch the scene here:

19.Before you yell at me for yet anot
her cover, this is more of a remix: “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”/”Diamonds” by Megan Thee Stallion and Normani in Birds of Prey.

Harley mouthing the words to the song while dancing with Black Mask

I’m a sucker for a good “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend”/Marilyn scene (like on Gossip Girl, and Moulin Rouge!), so that’s part of why I love this, but I also love that it’s updated/remixed in a really interesting way. It mixes the larger-than-life, overly romanticized, indulgent way Harley sees the world and herself with the harsh realities of what’s actually happening to her and the world she actually lives in. It’s also perfect because Margot Robbie/the character of Harley Quinn are very much sexualized by society in the way Marilyn Monroe was.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Watch the scene here:

20.Maybe this one doesn’t count because it’s an original song, but I still love it. “The Hanging Tree” by James Newton Howard (featuring Jennifer Lawrence) in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is truly one of my favorite moments of the series.

Katniss singing "are you, are you coming to the tree" and the dam breaking

The melody and lyrics are super haunting, but there’s still something strangely hopeful about them. The part where Katniss sings is nice, but it’s the part with the dam breaking that really solidifies this moment’s spot on this list. The rebels fight without regard for their own lives to break down infrastructure that has been used to exploit them, and it’s just so powerful.


Watch the scene here:

21.And finally, let’s end on a couple TV ones. First up: “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone from Sherlock.

Sherlock and John get ready for Moriarty's trial as we see a newspaper introducing it and Moriarty being brought from the jail

Sherlock rarely uses actual sung music, making this montage particularly special. The jaunty yet old-fashioned tune created such a fun buildup in this scene and fit Moriarty so well — it made everything feel even more like a game.


Watch the scene here:

22.And last but not least, I adore the use of “Gotta Get Up” by Harry Nilsson in Russian Doll.

Nadia looks at the door, shaken, then opens it and sees no one in the hall

I thought this song was okay the first time it played — and then it played again…and again….and again. Each time, the upbeat tune got more and more frustrating, and finally more and more ominous as the people at the party began to disappear each time Nadia was rebooted back to the bathroom. Using the song once? Cool. Using it every episode??? Legendary. And of course, it made a small comeback in Season 2, which was just great.


Watch a bunch of the scenes that use the song here:

What’s your fave use of a s
ong in a TV show or movie scene? Let us know in the comments below!


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