AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Songs – The 100 Greatest American Movie Music

The American Film Institute recently released their list of 100 greatest songs in movies (check out their web link: (I can’t imbed the link in the blog, but you can copy and paste to view)

That inspired me at the suggestion of a friend to make a Spotify playlist of the same. Some analysis of the list led to some interesting observations:

Artists having the most songs on the list include (with # songs):

    5: Fred Astaire, Judy Garland

    4: Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Marni Nixon*, and Barbra Streisand

  3: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope

* Regarding Marni Nixon, similar to my disillusionment with the discovery that Christopher Plummer didn’t sing his vocals in “The Sound Of Music”, she provides the singing voice for Deborah Kerr in The King & I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Kudos to Ms. Nixon, though much to her disservice as she was largely unknown. But it somewhat sullies my adoration of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady – her beauty and her (not her) voice… She did sing “Moon River” in Breakfast At Tiffany’s at least – phew.

And movies that appear the most include (with # songs):

3: Singin’ In The Rain, The Sound of Music, West Side Story.

2: The Wizard of Oz, A Star Is Born (though via 2 versions, one with
Judy Garland, the other with Barbra Streisand, and I’d add a 3rd with
Lady Gaga – see below)

The following videos are some of my favorite movie song performances, with the actor/singer performing in the movie, typically a musical, not just a background song, such as “Unchained Melody” in Ghost, or “What a Feeling” in Flashdance, or “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” in Dirty Dancing. All are great songs and scenes, but I wanted to single out some of the most outstanding signing performances within the confines of movies that made me fall in love with the singer.

There are two exceptional performances that I feel were left out, too good to leave off a list such as this, and they are truly among my very favorites, one as a child, with the magical candy world that Gene Wilder conjures in “Pure Imagination” in Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, and then more recently, following in the line of Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand who are on the list for the same movie, with Lady Gaga’s “I’ll Never Love Again” in A Star Is Born. Watch the videos below and judge for yourself, and see what you think.

“Over The Rainbow,” Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz – I fell in love with Judy Garland as a kid watching this scene.

“As Time Goes By,” Dooley Wilson, Casablanca – perhaps my favorite movie of all time.

“Singin’ in the Rain,” Gene Kelly, Singin’ In The Rain – many a day did I sing this song dancing in summer rainstorms as a kid.

“Moon River,” Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s – yes, her voice, and her beauty – breathtaking.

“White Christmas,” Bing Crosby, White Christmas – a classic.

“The Sound Of Music,” Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music – another favorite.

This scene and song I feel inspired the live movie version of Beauty & The Beast with Emma Watson singing “Bell (Reprise)” atop a similar hill.

“The Man That Got Away,” Judy Garland, A Star Is Born

“Evergreen,” Barbra Streisand, A Star Is Born

“I’ll Never Love Again,” Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born – I think each version provided yet a better diva song moment, this just exceptional. Not a dry eye in the audience. This truly made me a Gaga fan.

“I Could Have Danced All Night,” Audrey Hepburn/Marni Nixon, My Fair Lady – Marni Nixon getting her due on the next 4 songs. Just a beautiful voice.

“Shall We Dance,” Deborah Kerr/Marni Nixon, The King & I

“Somewhere,” Natalie Wood/Marni Nixon, West Side Story

“Tonight,” Natalie Wood/Marni Nixon, West Side Story

“Seems Like Old Times,” Diane Keaton, Annie Hall – while a crazy, neurotic movie, it’s another favorite with many memorable scenes.

“All That Jazz,” Catherine Zeta Jones, Chicago – such a spectacular film version of this show, with all start performances by Catherine Zeta Jones, Bebe Neuwirth, Queen Latifah, and Renee Zellweger. Check out Renee’s showstopping portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy.

“I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard – Dolly Parton says she never imagined her song could be sung like this – spectacular.

“Summer Nights,” Olivia Newton John, John Travolta, Grease – such a good movie, and fell in love with Olivia Newton John along with half of America seeing this movie at the drive-in as a teen.

“Thank Heaven For Little Girls,” Maurice Chevalier, Gigi – I fell in love with Maurice Chevalier’s voice and this song when seeing it on TV as a kid.

“On The Good Ship Lollipop,” Shirley Temple, Bright Eyes – I had a soft spot for Shirley Temple as a kid.

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins – perhaps the most magical, entertaining performance on the list. I love this movie.

“Rainbow Connection,” Kermit the Frog, The Muppet Movie – such a good song, by no less than a frog. I love this along with Gonzo’s “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday.”

“Pure Imagination,” Gene Wilder, Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – I just loved this magical candy room as a kid, wishing I could transport there (I actually played Charlie in our 5th grade play…)

And a few honorable mention songs in movies that didn’t make their list, that aren’t musical performances but such amazingly memorable scenes expertly paired with the movie scene that they are unforgettable:

“Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” Harry Belafonte, Beetlejuice – so hilarious – I remember seeing this in the theater – it was so much fun!

“Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin, Thor Ragnarok (x2) – one of the most amazing parings of a song with a scene:

And here’s the playlist, AFI’s top 100 movie songs over the past 100 years:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!