Song On The Most Soundtracks

So here I am, browsing through Cafe Society, when my cubicle-mate asks me, out of the blue, a classic Cafe Society question…

What song has been heard in more movies than any other?

Right off the bat, I thought of three possibilities:

  1. Happy Birthday

Royalties to the estates of whats-her-name and the other woman not withstanding, I imagine that birthday scenes have appeared in more than a few films over the years.

  1. Some Christmas Carol

That old (and royalty-free) standard “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” comes quickly to mind. I know “White Christmas” was a featured number in at least two films.

  1. O Fortuna

Carl Orff’s greatest hit. If not the most actual films, this particular piece has got to be the record-holder for most trailers. When I heard it in a “Nutty Proffessor” ad, I figured it was officially dead. But it still crops up…

My co-worker was unimpressed. He of course meant ‘songs’. You know, ‘songs’. His suggestion was “500 Miles” (or whatever it’s called) by The Proclaimers, which has indeed shown up on a number of soundtracks over the last decade or so.

Any contributions? Guesses? Comments? Anyone got an actual cite (or site) with some useful information?


I would guess one of the better known symphonic works from a long dead composer – Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, etc. But if your friend wants a “song” song, probably some folk song, like Sheandoah or Turkey in the Straw that was constantly recycled in old Westerns.

If your friend is looking for a song that was composed and comes from a definite time and place, maybe one of the tin pan alley songs of the 1920s.

I’d think 500 Miles is too new. That would fall into the same camp as that terrible “Hey now, you’re a rock star” song that played over a million trailers, but only in the last few years.

My votes:

• Auld Lang Zyne

• For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow

• Dixie

• “I Feel Good” - James Brown

• “I Will Survive” - Gloria Gaynor (Mainstream-movie-gay scenes only)

My immediate thought was “O Fortuna” - it’s in literally every movie commercial, even (as mentioned) lighthearted comedies.

There was a time in the nineties when White Zombie’s “More human than human” turned up in almost every film, esp. action movies.

Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf has to be up there.

Well, if we restrict it to movies from the past 10 years or so…I sure have been hearing “Solsbury Hill” a lot. I mean a lot.

Speaking of Steppenwolf, Magic Carpet Ride is pretty popular. But I’m sure it’s not close to the leaders.

For actual songs, rather than score music which gets used over and over again, especially in trailers usually because the score for the film hasn’t been completed yet, I’d say ‘The impression that I get’ by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I must have heard that in at least 6 or 7 films of the 90s.
‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave crops up quite a lot as well.

“Green Onions” by Booker T. & the MGs has been in more than a few movies.

“Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves seem to pop up here and there quite frequently.

Yeah, “Bad To The Bone” has gotta be up there on the list. At least that opening riff, anyway.

Another one that occured to me was “Song No. 2” by Blur. Again, that might be more in trailers than actual films.


No idea, one I’ve heard often that no one’s mentioned yet: Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”.

That one song that goes “Get ready, 'cause here I come” seems to show up in every getting-ready-for-a-date scene, ever.

Please parden the vaugeness. I’m a little drunk.

If clips of songs count…probably Handel’s Messiah. Followed closely by Ride of the Valkyries. (The last doesn’t qualify as a “song,” strictly speaking, I guess.)

Adagio for Strings is probably high up on the list, too.

I think it’s illegal to make a movie set anywhere near (in time or place) to the Vietnam war without including Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth.

Or something by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I’ll also toss these two in the general mix:

Louie, Louie

House of the Rising Sun

DAMN! You beat me to it!

Has there ever been a romantic comedy movie made which didn’t have Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door” over the closing credits?

Having it show up in JERSEY GIRL was the last of many nails in the sell-out-predictable-cliche coffin of the once glorious Kevin Smith.

Seems like there was a law in the '80s that every movie had to include the song “Oh Yeah” by Yello on the soundtrack.

“The Way You Look Tonight” has had more than a few incarnations since it first appear in the Astaire movie.