Not to be confused with Best Use of Music in Film, Best Film Songs is about those little musical diversions that actually take center stage in a film and leave an impression. The origin doesn't matter. A cover song used for good effect can be just as impressive as an original song. Here are the Best Film Songs of 2012. An asterisk indicates a VOD release. Each film was limited to one ranked entry to allow for a wider discussion. Skip over to Page 4 for a playlist of most of the entries. Three were not available to embed from YouTube.
- Damsels in Distress, "Things Are Looking Up"
- The Devil's Carnival*, "Grace for Sale"
- Les Miserables, "Lovely Ladies"
- Moonrise Kingdom, "Cuckoo"
- Magic Mike, "Ladies of Tampa"
- Sound of My Voice, "Dreams"
6: Les Miserables, "On My Own"
Samantha Barks has been playing Eponine onstage for quite some time. Her experience and her abilities are showcased to great effect in the big screen adaptation of Les Miserables. Her rendition of "On My Own" is one of two solo songs not edited completely in close-up and it's easy to see why. Her physicality is a huge part of her performance as the lovesick revolutionary.
5: Damsels in Distress, "The Sambola! International Dance Craze"
A perfectly strange ending to a perfectly strange film. "The Sambola!" is the dream of Lily, a young woman whose life goal is to create a new international dance sensation. Set in a small theater with garish gold set pieces, "The Sambola!" comes alive with onscreen instructions and a whole lot of energy.
4: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, "Misty Mountains"
You know what I love the most about J.R.R. Tolkien? He was so dedicated to bringing his fantasy realm of Middle Earth to life that he even wrote folk songs for all the different races. "Misty Mountains" is the first of hopefully many spectacular songs brought to life in the music-heavy The Hobbit and it will undoubtedly be one of the best. The visual of these brave dwarf-warriors singing a love song to a home they lost long ago is melancholy in the best way possible.
3: Pitch Perfect, "Cups"
Pitch Perfect has a lot of elaborate song and dance numbers. None hold a candle to the image of Beca stealing a cup from the judges and rocking out to a quirky little folk song. Anna Kendrick is a commanding musical performer and I can only hope the success of Pitch Perfect and Les Miserables can result in her being cast in a far grander musical than this little comedy in the future. I mean, she killed "Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch" when she was only a teenager in Camp. She has chops. What more proof does Hollywood need to cast her in some big budget musicals?
2: Holy Motors, "Let My Baby Ride"
This punk rock accordion cover of "Let My Baby Ride" is where Holy Motors really comes into focus. There's no artifice, no make-up, and no grotesque or bloody gag to distract from the entertainment. The only reason the song exists is to clue the audience into the for-hire voyeurism aspect of the overall story arc. You'll be grooving along right until the point you discover the mysterious actor's next gig.
1: The Devil's Carnival*, "Trust Me (The Scorpion & The Frog)/Prick! Goes the Scorpion's Tail"
"Trust Me (The Scorpion & The Frog)/Prick! Goes the Scorpion's Tail" is technically two songs that flow into each other. "Trust Me" is The Scorpion's song, where he takes the overly trustworthy young Tamara and teaches her a lesson about the danger of strange men. "Prick! Goes the Scorpion's Tail" showcases The Scorpion's real love, The Painted Doll (played by the ever-brilliant Emilie Autumn). She recounts their victory in a rousing drinking anthem as The Scorpion loses himself in ecstasy in the front row. It's a brilliant one-two punch of horror as the villains gloat over their disturbing victory.
So what do you think? What were your favorite film songs in 2012? If you move on over to the next page, I've embedded a playlist of 9 of the 12 songs. Unfortunately, both the Cranberries cover in Sound of My Voice and "Things are Looking Up" from Damsels in Distress are not available on YouTube. No recording of "Lovely Ladies" from the film version of Les Miserables can be embedded.