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The Best Movie Music Moments Of 2013

by The Playlist Staff
December 24, 2013 9:04 AM
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3. "The Power Of Love" - from "Sightseers"
We loved so much of Ben Wheatley's "Kill List" a few years back, but were left unsatisfied by the ending, which had an emotional gut-punch, but felt ambiguous because the filmmakers didn't have the answers, not because they wanted the audience to find their own. There was no such problem with the conclusion of follow-up "Sightseers," which featured one of the very best endings of 2013, and an absolutely golden use of some 1980s power-pop. Their passion seemingly reignited after some serious relationship problems, star-crossed caravaning Bonnie and Clyde couple Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) set fire to their caravan, and climb a viaduct in order to take their own lives, rather than return from their idyllic, blood-splattered holiday. The sound of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's anthemic "The Power Of Love" soars as they release Banjo, their stolen dog, and get ready to jump into oblivion, and it's an oddly moving climax to a very twisted love story. Except, as Chris jumps, Tina lets go of his hand and lets him plummet solo, freeing herself of a relationship that was literally going nowhere. Wheatley cunningly cuts the music at that exact moment, bringing home that, if Tina was in love once, the spell has long since been broken.

2. “Doby” - from “Anchorman: The Legend Continues”
Discussing this one without *spoilers* is admittedly very difficult, but we’ll do our best (the film opens today). “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” is far more perceptive and sharp than it has any business being. What could have been a story about Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) farting around with the Channel 4 news team in 1980s New York actually acts as a catalyst for when the evening news transformed from the hallowed fifth estate into the shallow, hollow shadow of itself known as 24-Hour infotainment. In that regard, it’s an incisive indictment of the media and has texture you’d never think you’d receive in a mainstream comedy. And then somehow, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and company end up in the most hilariously absurd, strange and overlong tangent in recent memory which we’ll call the “Lighthouse Blues” section of the movie. There… well, we can’t really go into detail, suffice to say we don’t want to spoil some of the sheer nonsensical hysterical madness that happens throughout. It all crescendos beautifully, sonorously with “Doby,” a loving and moving tribute Ron Burgundy sings with his family to a pet great white shark. That’s all we can really say about this gloriously terrific, for-the-ages music moment (and moment of comedy). It’ll make more sense in context when you are crying with laughter, possibly afterwards in the restroom when you are trying to trying to play off some crotch pee stain as a moment when you spilled your soda. Additionally, it’s currently also a long list Best Original Song Oscar Contender, so we can only hope (you can listen to the full song here).

1. "Everytime" - "Spring Breakers"
This particular moment/montage in Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” could be seen as the film’s thesis of sorts, as well as the defining, most talked about moment of the film. It’s absurd and somehow poignant; violent but sweet at the same time. As James Franco’s character Alien noodles on the white grand piano perched oceanside in front of his Florida spread, his newly minted protégées, Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) make their debut in their uniforms of hot pink balaclavas, sweat pants and shotguns. They implore Alien to “play somethin’ sweet, somethin’ upliftin;… play somethin’ fuckin’ inspirin’” and he launches into this ballad by Britney Spears, whom he calls “one of the best singers of all time and an angel if there ever was one on this earth,” (this moment also alerts us to the one thing Franco can’t do: sing).  The girls sing along, twirling girlishly with their guns in the pink sunset. As Spears’ version takes over the scene, Korine transitions into a slow-motion montage of Alien and the girls going on their crime spree: sticking up spring breakers’ hotel rooms, arcades, and even a wedding, their wild-eyed grins and flying spittle juxtaposed with sprays of blood and hog-tied teenagers (there’s got to be an analytical paper in Franco’s stuffing of a groom’s head into a wedding cake, his heaving, tattooed, naked torso covered in frosting). It’s a ridiculous, mesmerizing, and insane moment, but it’s also the central tipping point in the plot, when the girls join Franco as criminals, learning from him (and ultimately eclipsing him). As Spears croons “everytime I see you in my dreams, I see your face, it’s haunting me, I guess I need you baby,” it expresses the unique love story between Alien and the girls, as well as their love story with each other, with the headiness of weed and violence set against a neon tropical sunset. Of course it ends with Alien’s whispered refrain of “sprang break, bitches,” and a 21-gun salute into the night sky. This music moment defined “Spring Breakers,” and maybe defined some kind of zeitgeist in 2013.

Honorable Mention
The one that’s caused the most fallings-out around here (seriously, this is proving to be a particularly fractious Christmas at Playlist Towers, the floor of which is now crisscrossed with lines that one or other of us is no longer allowed to cross) has been the Backstreet Boys showing up at the end of “This is the End” which exactly half our staff seem to think is brilliant and funny, and exactly the other half think is tired and uninspired, an “insert kitschy boy band here—whoever will sign the contract” moment, so you be the judge. Less controversially just missing out on the main list are: Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” which is used to good effect both in “Gloria” and in “American Hustle”; the Skrillex-backed opening bacchanalian montage in “Spring Breakers”; Alabama Shakes’ “You Ain’t Alone” in “Afternoon Delight”; Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson’s duet of Karen O’s touching “The Moon Song” in “Her”; the use of The Doors’ “Alabama Song” in “The World’s End”; and the rhythmic pipe-beating bit at the start of Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ “The Kings of Summer,” and not to mention the lively use of Thin Lizzy’s “The Cowboy Song.”

The call to arms-like ending of “Upstream Color” and its "Inception"-like synth blast was a pretty memorable musical score moment in Shane Carruth’s awesomely perplexing movie; "Drinking Buddies" has a lot of great little emotional music moments, especially the use of “Tonight” by Sibylle Baie, but we already gave that a shout out in our Best Soundtracks of 2013 piece and the same goes for the moody and sinister electro-throbbing pulse of “Simon Killer.” In fact, we’d argue if you think something is missing you’ll likely find some mention of it it either in our Best Soundtracks of 2013 feature or our Best Scores of 2013 piece. Happy listening. If you’ve a music moment that meant something to you this year, or you want to weigh in on the Great Backstreet Boys Feud, let us know below. -- Rodrigo Perez, Oliver Lyttelton, Kevin Jagernauth, Katie Walsh, Jessica Kiang

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  • prue | June 23, 2014 5:25 AMReply

    If I could buy the soundtrack I certainly would!

  • mary | February 19, 2014 11:32 AMReply

    Will the film "Gloria" have a soundtrack of its own?

  • vreqrose | January 15, 2014 4:53 AMReply

    very nice...

  • 90fm | January 12, 2014 6:51 PMReply

    Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" was used in the opening scene of "Behind The Candleabra" as well.

  • munakuu | January 9, 2014 1:25 PMReply

    I've watched this film for free, and this film is very good,

  • Joe Coffee | December 24, 2013 12:57 AMReply

    Anyone who's half-listened to 'Gimme Shelter' HAS to be aware of Merry Clayton's vocal contribution. She wails so hard that her voice seems to blow out in one note, but she's right back in control the next second. She also kicks butt on a duet with Harry Nilsson on 'What's Your Sign?' and is part of an eerie choir on a couple tracks on Neil Young's first album. Worth checking out. And I believe that Little Feat's conga player, Sam Clayton, is her brother. That's all for now.

  • WHY? | December 20, 2013 10:24 PMReply

    I wish you would explain your obsession with "Gloria"... nothing more than an OK film, yet you have raved about it every chance (and list) you get.

  • Q_Q | December 20, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    The music from Breathe In is beautiful, but the scene when Felicity Jones's character plays Chopin on the piano is easily better than 3/4 of this list

  • sarcastic racist | December 20, 2013 3:51 AMReply

    paul dano was the best part of the 12 YEARS A SLAVE soundtrack

    ha ha ha

  • Heather | December 19, 2013 9:29 PMReply

    The Battery definitely belongs here! Rock Plaza Central's "Anthem for the Already Defeated"

  • cirkusfolk | December 18, 2013 8:17 PMReply

    I haven't seen the movies yet but are you telling me American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street don't have a single music moment worth mentioning?

  • Read | December 18, 2013 8:49 PM

    Can you not read? See above on page 1.

  • Anya | December 18, 2013 6:52 PMReply

    I hated Only God Forgives but that scene was fantastic. Vithaya Pansringarm (and Kristin Scott Thomas) were so great in that movie. I didn't like Spring Breakers much either but I could've watched it again just for that scene too.

    The end of This is the End with the Backstreet Boys was the most I laughed in a movie this year (not counting the times I laughed during The Host, because I'm not sure it was their intention), so it'd definitely make my list.

  • Alex | December 18, 2013 4:41 PMReply

    Your take on "Run, Jordan, Run" in 12 Years a Slave is interesting.. to me it showed the point when Solomon's reserved and stoic demeanor has finally been broken.. I remember his face looking tormented, he was letting the burden finally eek through his skin.. he's seeking solace through this song.. the song being necessary to save his soul. I don't see it as proof of the resiliency of the human spirit, but as just how bone crushingly devastating things were.. and how the only solace was a shared song and tears.

  • Jamie T D | December 18, 2013 9:21 PM

    I agree with your view. The scene where Solomon joins in with the singing was after Patsey had been whipped and Solomon had reached the limit of what he could stand. That's my interpretation anyway.

  • Caleb | December 18, 2013 3:34 PMReply

    I'm wondering why The Great Beauty is nowhere to be found on this list....

  • RP | December 18, 2013 3:39 PM

    Look for it in a more appropriate, but similar place tmw.

  • NewYorker | December 18, 2013 3:31 PMReply

    my 10 favorite 2013 movies with music moments are defently
    1-Filly Brown
    2-Spring Breakers
    3-Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
    4-Battle Of The Year: The Dream Team
    6-Black Nativity
    8-The Great Gatsby
    9-The Best Man Holiday
    10-One Direction: This Is Us

  • oogle monster | December 18, 2013 3:20 PMReply

    Lol not one mention of The Great Gatsby. Really? You didn't love the use of LDR "Young and Beautiful"?? I mean... overused, sure. But it's great!

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