Whenever you see a dancer lift a woman above his head, or someone spinning pottery, there’s a good chance a very specific song pops into your head and your heart starts going pitter-patter. That’s all because of the swoon-worthy power of music + movies + romance. A power we’ve seen proven again and again with songs that give romantic movie moments such amorous “oomph” they become seared into our memories forever.
For Valentine’s Day, we’re counting down ten of our favorite examples of movie love and song becoming so powerfully connected that we can no longer imagine one without the other.
10. Reality Bites: U2, “All I Want is You”
It can be hard to remember the power of U2’s power ballad outside of karaoke bars, but thankfully that’s what we have Reality Bites for. The rock band’s desperate, aching, longing, wailing (that’s a compliment!) romance in the song is perfect for Troy and Lelaina realizing how desperately they need each other. Even if Troy’s hair is horrible. Oh, the 90s.
9. Romeo & Juliet: Des’Ree, “Kissing You”
The famous fish tank scene would never have had the impact it had, or launched a million Leo Teen Beat covers, without Des’Rees silky soft voice so beautifully capturing the both tentative and rushing flood of emotions when love at first sight strikes.
8. Once: Glen Hansard, “Falling Slowly”
There’s a reason the song won an Oscar. Not just because it’s good, but because how it’s used in the movie. What better way to capture the gentle first steps of love better than the metaphor of two musicians tentatively learning to harmonize together for the first time?
7. 10 Things I Hate About You: Frankie Valli, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”
Yes, Heath Ledger could have maybe serenaded Julia Stiles with other songs and this scene would have still been romantic. But it wouldn’t have been as romantic as it is thanks to the gushy, adoring sentiments of “Can’t Take my Eyes Off You.” Sure, Ledger’s spastic antics are adorable, but it’s really the words of the song – ones he doesn’t yet realize he really means – that make this moment great.
6. 500 Days of Summer: Hall & Oates, “You Make My Dreams Come True”
Who hasn’t found themselves dancing joyously to Hall & Oates’ gleeful song? And who hasn’t found themselves dancing joyously (maybe not quite literally) the morning after the first time you sleep with someone you really like? That’s why 500 Days of Summer mashing those things together is so perfect. Now, if only our lives could also be blessed with animated bluebirds and dancing ensembles.
5. An Officer and a Gentleman: Joe Cocker, “Up Where We Belong”
Probably the most famous “sweeping someone off their feet” moment in all of movies. You can’t help but admire the cheeky combination of a sappy song about love sending someone soaring high with a moment where a dashingly uniformed Richard Gere lifts Debra Winger up, up and away.
4. Casablanca: Dooley Wislon, “As Time Goes By”
Sure, it may not be a blissful romantic moment that this song is associated with, but it’s still undeniably romantic. Everything about Rick and Ilsa’s romantically doomed relationship is right there in the song. There’s a reason why Rick can’t stand to hear it. It’s full of too much love, memory and pain. It is, in short, all of Casablanca in one song and one moment.
3. Ghost: Righteous Brothers, “Unchained Melody”
Thanks to Ghost no pottery class we’ve ever taken has been sexy enough. But that’s probably because we don’t get the silky crooning of the Righteous Brothers steeping Swayze and Moore’s arts & crafts session with the kind of sexual energy you could cut with a knife. Pottery and the Righteous Brothers have never been the same.
2. Dirty Dancing: Bill Medley & Jennifer Warens, “Time of my Life”
There’s a reason it’s so believable that Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love can so easily seduce women by putting on this song and doing Patrick Swayze’s lift of Jennifer Grey. It’s the romantic music moment we all wish we could experience ourselves.
1. Say Anything: Peter Gabriel, “In Your Eyes”
If this isn’t the first moment you thought of when you saw the headline of this article, you’re doing something wrong. It’s the greatest romantic use of a song in a movie ever. Lloyd Dobler, with his boombox playing Peter Gabriel always, always wins.