10 Godawful, Cheesy Or Over-Played Songs That Were Redeemed By Film And TV
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10 Bad, Cheesy Or Over-Played Songs That Were Redeemed By Film And TV

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | September 11, 2013 | Comments ()


For film nerds, there is no better musical education than the soundtrack. Filmmakers who are privy or dialed into superior music, be it new or an unearthed gem, are capable of opening up our musical universe. A good soundtrack song will not only evoke memories of the film, but can also push at the boundaries of our tastes. Don’t like vocal jazz? Sure. But how can you resist Nina Simone at the end of Before Sunset? Not a fan of hip hop? Okay, but once you’ve seen Do The Right Thing, I don’t know how you could possibly resist Public Enemy. That’s what a good musical movie moment can do.

But what about a great musical moment? Well, folks, a great musical moment can take a sad, tired song you hate and transform is completely. Deployed correctly, all the negative associations you have with that song will dissolve and all that will remain is whatever emotion it is the filmmaker kicked up in you. Hearing the song will recall beautiful shots, delightful performances and a well-told story. Many thanks to Dustin Rowles, Courtney Enlow and Genevieve Burgess for help with this collection. It’s by no means comprehensive, so feel free to add yours below.

“My Cherie Amour” — Almost Famous: This is the obligatory Almost Famous entry and also the original inspiration for this list. With much love and respect for Stevie Wonder, I always found this song one of his cheesier efforts. Now whenever I hear it all I see are Penny Lane’s glorious legs and poor William Miller’s lovesick expression. On an absolutely perfect soundtrack, it’s a stand-out.

“Both Sides Now” — Love Actually: I apologize for the truly terrible quality of the video below. This was a tricky one to grab. Regardless of your feelings about Love Actually, you cannot possibly be immune to a heart-broken Emma Thompson. I’m a huge fan of Joni Mitchell myself, but before this film “Both Sides Now” had worn out. I blame Judy Collins. If this blurry video isn’t doing it for you…

…may I suggest you gaze upon this and despair.

“On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” — Breaking Bad: There probably should be many more TV shows on this list, but Breaking Bad and its soundtrack is at the forefront of my mind. The cooking montages on that show have always been delightful and they often accompanied by incongruously swinging or chipper music. I first encountered “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” in the musical of the same name. a) That is one weird musical. b) This song was never cool. Not when Barbra sang it. Not even when Sinatra sang it. But when it’s backing up Jesse and Walt? Fantastic. Tip of the hat to their use of “Crystal Blue Persuasion” as well.

“Stuck In The Middle With You” — Reservoir Dogs: This list could probably be back to front Tarantino but this is my favorite example of Quentin’s powers of transformation. Stealers Wheel never sounded so compelling.

“Baby I Love Your Way” — High Fidelity: This may be a minor cheat because it’s Lisa Bonet’s marrow-melting cover rather than Peter F*cking Frampton himself that redeem this song. But what a redemption.

“Good Vibrations” — Vanilla Sky: Once again, I’m not slighting The Beach Boys in general, but come on, the bridge of this song is entirely composed of “la las.” Maybe your stronger association with this particular ditty is poor Charlie from Lost, but to me it will always invoke “TEEEEECH SUUUUUUPPPPPOOOOOOORRRTTTTT.”

“Here Comes My Baby” — Rushmore: Wes Anderson knows his way around a soundtrack from the Seu Jorge Bowie covers of The Life Aquatic to classical music meets Hank Williams vibe of Moonrise Kingdom, his musical choices are precise, incisive and incredibly atmospheric. Does good old Cat Stevens even need redeeming? Well, yeah. I mean Harold and Maude is fantastic, but there’s only so much 60s honeyed strumming one can take.

“Your Song” — Moulin Rouge: Still cheesy? YOU SAY THIS IS STILL CHEESY? Well, I say your MacGregoring incorrectly. Fine, if you must, you can pretend this is about “Roxanne,” but the burning immature passion that burbles out of young Christian endows Elton John’s cheesiest song with new meaning. At least, that’s what it did for me.

“One” — Magnolia: Aimee Mann’s indie yowl took this groovy Three Dog Night song to new heights. The Magnolia soundtrack is an all-time great and while the sing-along “Wise Up” gets all the attention, I think this song perfectly and bafflingly captures PT Anderson’s tapestry of pain.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” — 10 Things I Hate About You: Well this is dirty pool, isn’t it? There’s now a third layer to this song made up entirely of Ledger nostalgia. So beautiful once, and young.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • ubermood

    I would add "California Dreamin" in CHUNGKING EXPRESS to the list. "California Dreamin" is arguably the most cliche song ever, but Wong Kar-wai somehow manages to give it weight and significance.

  • James

    What about the power of "The Music from The O.C."?

  • knockloud

    The Silver Linings Playbook has so overtaken “My Cherie Amour” in my mind that I forgot it was even in Almost Famous.

  • Gloria Frederick

    my aunt just got a fantastic silver Cadillac CTS-V Wagon by work parttime using a lap-top. my review here l­o­c­k­4­0­.­ℂ­0­ℳ­

  • Huckleberry

    "Can't take my eyes off of you" will always and forever be make me think of The Deer Hunter and Christopher Walken.

  • ArchlordKristya

    Restless Eric's "Whole Wide World" sang by Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction is the best. Made the whole movie for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • Fletch

    I'm sure someone must have mentioned it (although I don't see it at first glance at the comments) but how you do an article on cheesy songs that were redeemed by movies, mentioned Almost Famous, and leave out "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John? I didn't like the song - at all - before that scene in the movie.


  • kirbyjay

    Having grown up on Motown, I always thought The Tracks of My Tears was one of Smokey's more tepid selections but the scene in Platoon gave it renewed life.
    Also loved Crystal Blue Persuasion montage on BB.

  • Rebecca

    Shirtless Ryan Gosling and fucking adorable Emma Stone completely rescued Time of My Life from the abyss of cheezy 80's songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • Emm82

    I'm sorry but I don't care how lovely Ewan McGregor can warble an Elton John song, there's not enough money in the world to convince me to sit all the way through Moulin Rouge. 1/2 of one was painful enough.

  • Mrs. Julien

    The second half just retells the love story so you didn't miss anything except more Ewan McGregor (which is always good), more Nicole Kidman (wearing costumes to die for [see what I did there?]), the louder version of "Come What May" (the movie really repeats the story), the petit mal epileptic seizure brought on by all the 2 second shots and that whooshing noise, and with any luck the DVD would have skipped over the "Like a Virgin" number (excruciating and draggy and it should have been left out because: Kill your darlings, directors. Kill. Your. Darlings.).

  • googergieger


    Tommy Boy one.

  • I'm not saying that it's a good thing necessarily, but Glee certainly gave Journey's Don't Stop Believing new life on the charts.

  • Tinkerville

    We need a list for movies and shows do the opposite, because Glee made me freaking HATE that song. So overplayed (and oversung at karaoke bars) afterwards that it ruined it for me. GUH.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    It is not a good thing.

    Though Rock of Ages reignited the song first.

  • But that terrible movie came out after Glee!!!

    ...j/k. I've never actually seen the original musical.

  • Ignatz

    I can love and appreciate Heath Ledger's version of "You're just too good to be true". However, this will be forever the version that revs my motor: http://vimeo.com/33836721

  • Fabius_Maximus

    For what it's worth, I think all the songs are still shit, except for "Can't take my eyes off of you", which has been and always will be awesome.

  • zyzzyva

    Surprised to not see Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams" in (500) Days of Summer on here. Or was that not sufficiently cheezy beforehand...?


  • Jezzer

    Sorry, but involvement with Wes Anderson movies causes any song to become infected with The Twee and forever ruined. :(

  • Fine, I'LL be the fusspot who points out that "One" was first released by Harry Nilsson, who wrote it.

  • Uriah_Creep

    And who was (*sniff*) an amazing vocalist.

  • Semilitterate

    He had a point

  • Uriah_Creep

    Holy hell! You know the story of Oblio and Arrow? I might have to marry you, and I don't even know if you're male or female. It's so hard to find people who know about The Point!, partly because it was released in 1971 (most Pajibans weren't even a gleam in the old man's eye then), and partly because it didn't make a big impact on the popular charts. But my friends and I loved it, and I still listen to it from time to time, then have those gorgeous songs stuck in my head for days.

    And remember, in the end, no one had a point.

  • Semilitterate

    My youngest son was born in '71 (do the math) Not your "typical" Pajibain, I guess, But my kids grew up with that album, long before they got into Nirvana, etal. As for the marrying thing, my wife would perhaps object, at least on most days.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Wow, another old fart. Even older than me by the sounds of it. We need to start a Pajiba Golden Age club. I love that your kids grew up with great music. Hell, I find it very gratifying that many of my nieces and nephews would much rather listen to The Beatles, Nilsson, Led Zep, etc. than to the stuff that's been coming out in their lifetimes.

    I retract my offer of marriage, as I really don't care for dudes (I was really hoping you were a hot woman). Please tell your wife you're safe from me.

  • Semilitterate

    For the record (no pun intended) I've always been fond of Uriah Heep, too. Sweet Lorraine and Sunrise being among my faves

  • Uriah_Creep

    The Magician's Birthday, 1972. I was just starting college a long way from home, and it had a big impact on me.

  • chanohack

    Dear Joanna, if you make a list of favorite songs from Breaking Bad, I will totally click on it and make all my friends click on it too. XO Chano. P.S. I listened to your Dave Porter interview. It was cool!

  • dmm

    Sweet Caroline in Beautiful Girls and Ventura Highway by America in Veronica Mars - both songs that I've never really liked before but hearing them now brings me back instantly to those moments in the shows and now I actually like both songs.

  • apsutter

    1. Who dislikes "My Cherie Amour?" It may be kind of cheesy but it's so damned sweet and the perfect example of young Stevie Wonder's voice.
    2. I prefer Judy Collins version of "Both Sides Now" and I love how they just used it on Mad Men.
    3. Breaking Bad has the best montages on television or movies, hands down
    4. I can't help myself, I love Peter Frampton's version of "Baby I Love Your Way"
    5. I also love Ellie Goulding's version of "Your Song"
    6. There may be a whole layer of Heath ledger nostalgia to "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" but for an entire generation of 90's and 00's girls we loved that song from the moment he sang it the same as we love it now. But I must say I associate this song with both 10 Things and Coneheads. Speaking of, whenever we get to talking about memorable songs in movies I always think of Beldar driving Connie and her friends to the mall with the girls singing "Tainted Love" out the moon roof.

  • hippyherb

    I love Nana Mouskouris version of Both Sides Now. It was what I was raised with.

  • Tinkerville

    It's in no way an existing cheesy song that was redeemed by the movie, but since you brought up the brilliance of Wes Anderson soundtracks, every time I'm fighting through menial tasks at work I listen to this and it makes things more awesome:


  • emmalita

    Ah crap. You got me going down the YouTube clip rabbit hole of Steve Zissou. I may have to revisit the whole movie.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Oh, to be able to see the comments on the Love, Actually review. Good times. I'll be on the Wayback Machine site if anyone needs me.

  • ed newman


    You are dead to me for even insinuating that Good Vibrations might be in the least bit cheesy or needed any sort of redemption whatsoever.

    You are reborn like a phoenix for including One. Despite disagreeing with the level of cheesiness in the original, I agree that the Aimee Mann version is incredible (as was Wise Up).

  • Carniverous Ruminant

    I'd like to nominate "Carry On, Wayward Son" by Kansas in the context of the Supernatural season finales. I used to loathe that song with the hatred of a thousand burning suns, but now when it pops up, I can tolerate it thanks to Supernatural.

  • MichaelAndTheArgonauts

    I would also nominate Blue Swede for "Hooked on a Feeling" and the leaked Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. I've listened to that song so much since then.

  • Gonzo's ghost

    I don't know how this site feels about Californication in general, but the season 3 finale changed Elton John's Rocketman for me.

  • Maddy

    There are people that don't like Love Actually? Heath Ledger makes me sad :(

  • jja

    I saw the photo of Heath Ledger at the top and immediately thought of "Takin' Care of Business" from A Knight's Tale, maybe my favorite guilty pleasure movie. Or, you know, any of the overblown '70s hard rock songs from that soundtrack.

  • Idle Primate

    Conspiracy Theory changed 'can't take my eyes off of you' for me for a long time.

  • I love cheese, apparently. In the space of a week I've read two articles now skewering two songs that I have real, honest affection for (Piano Man and now Your Song), to the point where they are regulars in the nighttime rotation of songs to sing as I'm putting my son to bed (also known as songs my son will hate and make fun of me for when he learns how to do those things). So be it - once I bought the house in the burbs and did my part in having the damn kid I gave up any pretense of coolness anyway.

  • Semilitterate

    No way can I conflate Piano Man and Your song. One has more cheese than Wisconsin and the other is Piano Man, imho, a great song, perhaps overplayed

  • apsutter

    I'm a firm believer that there is no such thing as a cheesy song. There are just songs that are guilty pleasures lol

  • emmalita

    Self-knowledge is a beautiful, powerful thing. You be your own special snowflake self and eventually your son will appreciate it. After he makes fun of you. That's his job.

  • Sars

    Oh Heath ... It will always be too soon* http://www.x17online.com/HLEDG...

  • mswas

    Bohemian Rhapsody is by no means godawful, but you have to admit it experienced a renaissance after Wayne's World. http://youtu.be/STt9dqPsFTE

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Wes Anderson is the genius of the soundtrack. I even have the Bottle Rocket soundtrack, but I was supremely bummed when I found out "Alone Again Or" was not on it.

  • emmalita

    Wes Anderson is so good with the soundtrack. I didn't love the Life Aquatic, but I loved the soundtrack.

  • Speaking of Breaking Bad songs, I heard "Wendy" the other day in the store and I thought, "This would be perfect if I was in Walmart."

  • apsutter

    I believe the song title is actually "Windy"

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Everyone knows it's Windy.

  • DeltaJuliet


  • e jerry powell

    Oh, Joanna, honey. Stevie Wonder has plenty of cheesy efforts. "My Cherie Amour" is just among the earliest. After he officially became a musical whore in about 1982, the treacle fountain just wouldn't stop gushing. Quite a bit of it splattered into Spike Lee films, come to think of it.

  • AvaLehra

    I once met someone named "Cherie Amour". True story.

  • Maguita NYC

    This so should be an EE entry! Simple, uncomplicated humor at its best.

  • e jerry powell

    I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that she was born somewhere between 1969 and 1974.

  • AvaLehra

    I'm going to say, YES.

  • wsapnin

    When Ewan McGregor sings it breaks my heart and I fall in love with him every time. I don't care what movie he's in or how bad it is.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Ryan Gosling singing "You Always Hurt" in Blue Valentine is one of my favourites.


  • zeke_the_pig

    Every time a SRL is published I'm reminded that even If I didn't already love Pajiba for about 665 reasons, just the fact that 'obligatory Almost Famous entry' is a thing here would be enough for me to love it almost as much as I love The Bellucci.

  • Cotten Eyed Joe as fist pumped by Nick Miller on New Girl.

  • $65530708

    NO. Not even Nick Miller can save that one.

  • Berry

    YES. Nick Miller can save ANYTHING.

  • It's still terrible. But it's less terrible, and I didn't think that was possible.

  • $65530708

    Pitch Perfect - Since U Been Gone? I not a K.C. fan so you may or may not think that song was overplayed to death.

    About A Boy - Killing Me Softly

  • JoannaRobinson

    I almost mentioned Kelly Clarkson because my Love Actually affection runs SO deep that even the cheesy KC song on the soundtrack does it for me.

  • ShagEaredVillain

    "Don't Cry Out Loud" - Drop Dead Gorgeous

  • PDamian

    Oh, good grief, yes. I nearly died laughing.

  • JJ

    See also: "Don't Cry Out Loud" - Jimmy Fallon vs. John Krasinski Lip Sync-Off on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

  • Garferty

    It's called "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", not "You're Just Too Good To Be True."

  • AudioSuede

    High Fidelity also managed to redeem Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall In Love it Will Be Forever)" in the credits, because that song is SO CHEESY but in the context of that ending, it's perfect.

    I will offer one counter-example of a song that even a great movie could not redeem: The Robert Downey Jr. song in the credits of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. That dude's voice sounds like the South Park guys when they're doing a joke ballad, but he's being 100% serious. It's the biggest pall on RDJ's entire career. Even worse than, you know, the drugs.

  • Tinkerville

    So many great ones from High Fidelity. My personal favorite's Let Get It On from Barry Jive & The Uptown Five (formerly known as Sonic Death Monkey).

  • Guest

    Also from High Fidelity - "Babe, I Love Your Way" w/ Lisa Bonet:


  • Dr. Niles Crane

    Because, hey, why bother reading the actual article!

  • Guest


  • Maguita NYC

    You always need to delete the content first.
    Replace by a period or something.
    Then select delete.

    If you do not, you are only deleting your name, not the content of the comment.

  • $65530708

    Thanks. That kinda works (as seen above). I'll have to try it with a embedded link.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    You can delete posts. Right upper corner of the comment.

  • Maguita NYC

    Ewan Mcgregor's voice is so simple yet beautiful, makes you sigh for the cheese. He was the best part of that movie, and made the whole thing memorable.

  • PDamian

    His performance of "Your Song" was awesome, but I'll always love "Roxanne" most. His voice becomes a wail.

  • Maguita NYC

    Ah Roxanne! Must admit though, anything the Mcgregor does makes me wail.


  • emmalita

    Jacek Koman's growly, gravely voice is what made the Roxanne number for me. I have weakness for deep baritone and bass voices.

  • Michelle

    And he always seemed so EARNEST when he was signing. Sigh. He's so dreamy.

  • Maguita NYC

    You know how Mrs. J. had given Henry Cavill his OMG HISGL hotness extention?

    We should give the Mcgregor one of his own. No one is more deserving for keeping his hotness this long. How does Ewan Mcgregor HS, HITD sound? (Holy Shit, He Is Too Dreamy)

  • Michelle

    LOVE IT.

  • Maguita NYC

    Thanks, and you know why HITD? Because I'd HITD it any time!
    I'll show myself out.

  • Michelle


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