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The top 10 Hollywood movie songs

Bijoy Venugopal | June 25, 2004 19:59 IST

A still from the Wizard of OzJudy Garland's Over The Rainbow from The Wizard Of Oz (1939) placed first on the American Film Institute's list of 100 best movie songs of the last century.

The list, which includes songs from the classics Casablanca and Singing In The Rain in the top 10, was announced on the CBS show AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs hosted by Grease star John Travolta.

Celebrities like Paul Simon, Julie Andrews, Art Garfunkel, Celine Dion, Barry Gibb, and Barbra Streisand presented the list.

Last year AFI distributed a ballot with the names of 400 nominated songs to a jury of 1,500 leaders in the film community, including film artistes (directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, composers, and cinematographers), critics and historians. The jury was asked to choose up to 100 songs from the list. Jurors were also allowed to write in votes for up to five songs that were not already on the ballot.

The jurors made their selection using the criteria of song, cultural impact, and legacy. Film scores and tunes with no lyrics, like Colonel Boogie's March from The Bridge On The River Kwai and the theme songs from Gone With The Wind and Doctor Zhivago were not eligible.

The top 100 had 20 representations from the 1960s, 17 from the 1950s, 16 from the 1970s, 14 from the 1940s, 13 from the 1980s, 11 from the 1930s, six from the 1990s, and three from the 2000s. There were no songs on the list from the 1920s.

Advancements in sound technology appeared to have done little to make film music more endearing. The most recent among the top 10 is the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive, almost 30 years old. Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On from Titanic (1997) had to be content with 14th place.

The earliest song in the top 100 was Isn't It Romantic from Love Me Tonight (1932) in 73rd place. The newest were All That Jazz from Chicago (2002) at number 98, and Eminem's Lose Yourself from 8 Mile (2002) at number 93.

The AFI's top 10 movie songs of all time:

1. Over The Rainbow – The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
Adapted from L Frank Baum's children's book The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (written in 1899 and published in 1900), the film became well known for its theme song performed by Judy Garland. Garland is represented an additional four times in the top 100, for The Man That Got Away (11), The Trolley Song (26), Get Happy (61), and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (76).

Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca2. As Time Goes By – Casablanca (1942)
This hit wartime love triangle starring Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart and Paul Henreid is best remembered for the line, 'Play it again, Sam.' The song, sung by pianist Dooley Wilson, is memorable for the words, 'A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh/The fundamental things apply as time goes by...'

Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in a still from Singin In The Rain3. Singin' In The Rain – Singin' In The Rain (1952)
Adapted from a Broadway musical, this classic film billed as 'MGM's Technicolor musical treasure' starred Gene Kelly, who also sang the title song. Its simple lyrics stuck on every tongue: I'm singing in the rain/Just singing in the rain/What a glorious feelin'/I'm happy again. Four more of Kelly's songs made the top 100: I Got Rhythm (32), New York, New York (41), Good Morning (72), and Long Ago And Far Away (92).

4. Moon River – Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)
Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard in Breakfast At Tiffany'sBased on Truman Capote's 1958 novella of the same title, Breakfast At Tiffany's is the story of Holly Golightly, played unforgettably by Audrey Hepburn, making her way on her own in the big city. Moon River, a popular wedding waltz sung by Hepburn in the film, was composed by Henry Mancini, who is also famous for the Pink Panther theme.

5. White Christmas – Holiday Inn  (1942)
Written by Irving Berlin, White Christmas was made famous by the voices of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire who sang it for the movie. In October 1942, the song topped the charts in America and stayed put for 11 weeks.

A still from Pinocchio6. Mrs Robinson – The Graduate (1967)
'Mrs Robinson, you're trying to seduce me, aren't you?' This is not a line from the song, which younger generations recognise as a classic made famous by Paul Simon and Arthur Garfunkel. It is in the context of this groundbreaking film starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Katherine Ross that Mrs Robinson is set. The soundtrack, composed by Simon and Garfunkel, also contains the song The Sounds Of Silence.

7. When you wish upon a star Pinocchio (1940)
One of Disney's landmark animated masterpieces, Pinocchio is packed with thrills all the way from the opening scene to the climax where its protagonist escapes from the belly of a whale. The lyrics of the title song are an anthem to the film's theme of adventure and perseverance: Like a bolt out of the blue/fate steps in and sees you through/when you wish upon a star/your dream comes true. Pinocchio won an Academy Award for Best Song and another for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

John Travolta in a scene from Saturday Night Fever8. The Way We Were – The Way We Were (1973)
An activist (Barbara Streisand) and a WASP novelist (Robert Redford) work up a 1930s romance that bumps through the next two decades against a backdrop of America's history of the period. The Way We Were won the fluttering hearts of romantics, two Oscars for its music, and a handful of nominations. Streisand, who sang the title song, is also represented in the top 100 for Evergreen, the love theme from A Star Is Born (16th), and two songs from Funny Girl (1968): People (13th) and Don't Rain On My Parade (46th).

9. Stayin' Alive – Saturday Night Fever (1977)
With Maurice Gibb's death in January 2003, the three Bee Gees are down to two  Robin and Barry  but the hit number from their LP Saturday Night Live continues to work up a lively groove at discotheques the world over. Stayin' Alive topped the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart for four weeks in 1978.

Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music10. The Sound of Music – The Sound Of Music (1965)
Based on Baroness Maria von Trapp's 1949 autobiography The von Trapp Family Singers and adapted from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's 1959 hit Broadway stage musical about the exploits of a family of singers and their escape from the Nazis in Austria in 1938, The Sound Of Music showcased the picturesque locales of Salzburg and Austria and presented Julie Andrews's daisy looks and cheery singing voice. Even as its music echoed in homes the world over, the film surpassed Gone With The Wind as the number one box-office hit of all time.

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Sub: Moon River Wasn't Always a Shoe In

While 'Moon River' is now one of AFI's top ten songs, it almost ended up on the cutting room floor! The first screening of Breakfast ...

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Posted by Rabish Chaturvedi

Sub: The top 10 Hollywood movie songs

I expected to see Unchained Melody - Ghost in Top 10.

Posted by Parimal

Sub: Top 10 Hollywood Songs

Hey Dude! Wht abt I don't wanna miss a thing - Aerosmith Smash Mouth - Shrek. Both are excellent ...

Posted by Manian

Sub: Twenty Five best songs.

Mr.Venugopal, Give us a list of 25 best songs of Indian films. Bharat Pandya ...

Posted by Bharat Pandya


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