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Top 10 Movie Songs - Vocal


Music has accompanied the moving image since the beginning of film history. During the silent era, musicians provided the score for films shown in theaters. With the introduction of sound, musicians and performers were written into the plots of films and frequently had successful acting careers as well.

It was difficult to choose just 10 songs, so I created a few rules. First, these are all vocal performances so no John Williams on the list. (I will be creating another list that features instrumental performances.) Second, I stuck to American films. Other countries, such as India, have their own amazing musical traditions that are showcased on film but they deserve a list of their own. Finally, I included only live action films; no Disney. This list is in no particular order and reflects my own eclectic taste in music.

1. Liza Minnelli “But the World Goes ‘Round” from “New York, New York” (1977)

2. Lena Horne “Stormy Weather” Theme Song (1943)

3. Prince “Purple Rain” Theme Song (1984)

4. Barbra Streisand “Prisoner” from “Eyes of Laura Mars” (1978)

5. Wang Chung “To Live and Die in L.A.” Theme Song (1985)

6. Barbra Streisand “The Way We Were” Theme Song (1973)

7. Paul McCartney & Wings “Live and Let Die” Theme Song (1973)

8. Judy Garland “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944)

9. Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) “The Rainbow Connection” from “The Muppet Movie” (1979)

10. Jane Russell “One for My Baby” from “Macao” (1952)


Four of these songs play during the opening or closing credits while the rest of them are performances that occur during the film. Liza Minnelli was in her prime when Scorsese cast her in "New York, New York". While the film would not make my 10 best list, Minnelli's performance of Kander and Ebb's tune is phenomenal. She conveys the gut-wrenching emotion of her character while always remaining in control of her technique. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Jim Henson performing as the voice of Kermit the Frog. "The Rainbow Connection" is simple yet effective, and has been covered by many other artists from Debbie Harry to Ed Shereen. You can watch/listen to all of these songs on YouTube. Let me know your favorites and I can feature them in a future article.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Angela K. Peterson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Angela K. Peterson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Angela K. Peterson for details.

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