The 10 Best Original Songs From 21st Century Films


Earlier today, the National released a video for the song “Think You Can Wait,” from the “quirky” Paul Giamatti film Win Win. The video is a misguided combination of film dialogue transposed over a staged performance (the YouTube comments have already begun trashing it, and Matt Berninger’s voice really isn’t most effective with a highchair kid screaming over it), but it’s another contribution to the ever-growing catalogue of good songs that’ve wafted off soundtracks since the turn of the century. Here are 10 even better ones.

Thom Yorke, “Hearing Damage” from The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Would have loved to be a fly on the wall when someone pitched a Twilight soundtrack to Thom Yorke. However, there’s no denying that the Radiohead singer knocks this one out, coming across as both brooding and deeply honest. It’s also the best music of any of Yorke’s solo material, showing that he doesn’t need Jonny Greenwood to write songs.

Jonny Greenwood, “Prospectors Arrive” from There Will Be Blood (2007)

Speaking of Greenwood, the Radiohead composer was commissioned to score this P.T. Anderson Oscar-nominated epic, the result of which is a stunningly beautiful album that underscores that film’s harsh tone perfectly. “Prospectors Arrive” is the album’s best track as it combines a soft piano with an haunting string section. A chilly contrast to the movie’s brutal violence.

Sex Bob-Omb, “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Written by Beck and performed by the Scott Pilgrim cast (with help from the multi-instrumentalist Scientologist), this track kicks off the film with an energy blast that the soundtrack never again seems to match. The lyrics—well, they’re barely there, but “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” works best as a fun bit of punk-pop anyway.

Daft Punk, “TRON Legacy (End Credits)” from TRON: Legacy

We’ve all heard how much of a disappointment the TRON: Legacy soundtrack was, but within the muddled, electro-classical hybrid of an album lies this absolute banger of a track. Perhaps helped by its placement over the final credits, the instrumental moves away from any plot-related tone and just shows off Daft Punk at their most pure: electronic dance music with a robot-befitting attitude.

Yo La Tengo, “Farewell Adventureland” from Adventureland

You’d be hard pressed to find a song that better suits both Yo La Tengo and the movie for which it was written. Twinkly and poppy, the song sounds like a mix of classic rock and YLT’s specific brand of indie pop, a perfect blend of old and new for those who wish to find their own Adventureland.

Alexi Murdoch, “All My Days” from Away We Go

From an incredibly underrated movie comes one of the most underrated love songs to grace a film soundtrack. Murdoch, the Scottish songwriter who wrote most of the Away We Go‘s soundtrack, strips this down to the bare minimum and lets his full, Nick Drake-esque voice carry the song.

Drake featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Eminem – “Forever” inspired by More Than A Game

Last name ever, first name greatest. This song has been heard by everyone far and wide, and for good reason. For those who missed out on Drake’s breakout single “Best I Ever Had,” this was their introduction to the Canadian MC who would so dominate rap’s headlines in 2010. What few people remember is that this track was inspired by a LeBron James documentary. With a little help from his (very famous) friends, Drizzy brags and swags about his rise to fame, while also pleading with us to keep him around forever. We will.

The Cast of Science of Sleep, “If You Rescue Me” from The Science of Sleep

Michel Gondry’s schizophrenic film about the power of imagination and dreams features a plea to be with someone, anyone. As sung by the star Gael Garcia Bernal, the track features an acoustic guitar backing earnest lyrics about companionship (“If you rescue me, I’ll never have to be alone again”) that resonate even outside the context of the film’s narrative.

James Murphy, “People” from Greenberg

While Mr. LCD’s first offering as a soundtrack composer was hit-or-miss, there’s no denying that the opener combines Murphy’s dance tendencies with the movie’s cynicism. The result also finds Murphy doing his best to sing, and succeeding more often than not. It also gave us an insight into what life after this Saturday night might be like for him, and us.

Florence and the Machine, “Heavy In Your Arms” from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Though later released as a single to promote the re-release of the award-winning Lungs, this track was first featured on the Eclipse soundtrack. A ghostly track that sounds more witchhouse than “Dog Days Are Over,” this one finds Florence Welch’s voice fluctuating between defeated and bombastic.

Got any more suggestions? Leave them in the comments!