Hollywood has a major problem with recycling ideas. How many big budget studio films get released nowadays that don’t owe plenty to ones that came before? And isn’t every single television show on cable about a group of young criminologists with forensic technology from the future or a hot-shot lawyer fighting his personal demons, but still kicking ass and winning cases in the court room? To further illustrate how devoid of ideas Hollywood is, we need only think of the dreaded remake. Every blockbuster season you can be sure to see at least one trailer for another new remake of either an 80s horror classic, or a cult classic like the upcoming Mad Max remake. What’s even worse, even though screenwriters in Hollywood by and large seem unable to gather inspiration from anything other than their Netflix subscriptions, or pinch lines from Horatio Cane on CSI Miami, music directors are as guilty of the same thing.
Have you ever watched your favorite show, or seen a trailer for a movie on TV, and heard a clip of music and recognized the song? Of course you have, and that’s because there’s only a list of about 20 songs Hollywood uses for TV, trailers and big budget films. Seriously, it’s a law. Ok, an unwritten law, but strictly adhered to nonetheless. With plenty of independent films commissioning their own soundtracks nowadays (Hollywood, see Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive as an example on how to get the music right) the same giant production studios that commission those lazy writers to write drivel seem to draw from the well of lazy music directors too.
Do you know how many times Sweet Home Alabama by the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd has been heard in a film? 33 times. Add appearances on television and the song’s been used 55 times. The fact that the same song has been used in 33 different movies is obscene, but the most shocking part? Beyond naming a terrible Reese Witherspoon film after the song, Sweet Home Alabama isn’t even close to the top of the most overused music in movies list. So, without further ado, here’s a list of the most annoyingly overused music in film and television.
10 Bad To The Bone - George Thorogood & The Destroyers: 42 Appearances in Film & TV
9 Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones: 45 Appearances in Film & TV
8 Back In Black – AC/DC: 45 Appearances in Film & TV
7 All Along the Watchtower – Bob Dylan: 46 Appearances in Film & TV
6 Kung Fu Fighting - Carl Douglas: 51 Appearances in Film & TV
5 Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd: 55 Appearances in Film & TV
4 Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves: 75 Appearances in Film & TV
3 Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf: 98 Appearances in Film & TV
2 Stayin’ Alive - The Bee Gees: 100 Appearances in Film & TV
1 Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland: 177 Appearances in Film & TV
Another song written specifically for a movie, this time the MGM classic The Wizard of Oz, the Academy Award winning "Over the Rainbow" (not Somewhere…) has received a multitude of accolades since it was first heard in 1939. Among them; the number one spot on the Songs of the Century list released by the Recording Industry Association of America, and the distinction of being named the greatest movie song of all time by The American Film Institute. There is no question the song is a classic, and deserving of the recognition it has received, but it is a song that was written for a specific movie, and therefore, should have remained as an iconic moment in said movie. Instead, in a clear attempt at what Hollywood is best at, capitalizing on a good thing, and beating it to death to the point of massive over saturation, the industry couldn’t allow "Over the Rainbow" to remain immortalized in The Wizard of Oz, and featured it in another 176 films and television shows over the decades. Could it have been Hubris? Avarice? Well, that’s Hollywood.
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