The soundtrack from The Hunger Games reads like a year-end list of the best indie acts: Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, Neko Case, Glen Hansard, Taylor Swift…OK, maybe not that last one, but it’s a still a pleasant surprise that Arcade Fire, who are otherwise taking a break from making new music, were asked (by T-Bone Burnett) to contribute a song to a movie that will likely gross over $130 million this weekend. Here are eight other great original songs that appeared in otherwise unassuming films.
1) “J.A.R.” by Green Day from Angus
I’ve still yet to hear a good explanation of why one of Green Day’s best songs, about a friend of bassist Mike Dirnt who passed away due to complications sustained from a car accident, is on the soundtrack for a pedestrian movie about obesity starring James Van Der Beek.
2) “The Great Beyond” by R.E.M. from Man on the Moon
It’s no “Man on the Moon,” true, but “The Great Beyond” is a nice Andy Kaufman companion piece, and has since become one of R.E.M.’s popular songs.
3) “Party Party” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions from Party Party
SO much better than Sting’s "Tutti Frutti.”
4) “Huck’s Tune” by Bob Dylan from Lucky You
“Things Have Changed,” the Oscar-winning track that appeared in Wonder Boys, is the soundtrack song of Dylan’s that gets most of the attention, but don’t forget about “Huck’s Tune,” from Curtis Hanson’s Lucky You. It’s a decent movie, but a great ballad, gorgeous and determined. Could have been a Time Out of Mind outtake. (We couldn't find a song clip on YouTube, so we had to put up the trailer instead. Sorry.)
5) “Theme from Doctor Detroit” by Devo from Doctor Detroit
In 1983 and 1984, Dan Aykroyd starred in Trading Places, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Ghostbusters, and…Doctor Detroit. There’s a reason the film, which also featured Fran Drescher and James Brown, has been largely forgotten (it sucks) — and would likely be erased from existence were it not for the theme song, performed by Devo. It was released a year after Oh, No! It’s Devo, and would be one of their final must-hear songs.
6) “Roslyn” by Bon Iver and St. Vincent from New Moon
I’m not usually one to praise Twilight (about anything, ever), but even I must admit: the film series’ soundtracks are good. Like, Iron & Wine/Thom Yorke/Grizzly Bear/Lykke Li good. The highlight, however, is “Roslyn,” a duet from St. Vincent and Bon Iver on the New Moon album. It’s just as haunting as it sounds.
7) “Do the Hippogriff” by the Weird Sisters from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter will see your one member of Radiohead, New Moon, with Jonny Greenwood, and raise you another part of the group, Phil Selway, as well as Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker. They make for the savviest band singing about a fictional animal in a movie about wizards EVER.
8) “Hot Sex” by A Tribe Called Quest from Boomerang
This song is hotter than Eddie Murphy’s career is cold.