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Summer playlist: Scene it

Unforgettable songs from summer movies.


Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, "Falling Slowly"

Once was the sleeper Irish romance of the summer of 2007, about a pair of nameless musicians falling in love through song. This is the song and scene people remember the most. Request it at one of the seven weddings you're going to this season.

Madonna, "This Used to Be My Playground"

As the closing credits song of the best baseball movie of all time—A League of Their Own, obvs—Madonna's string-laden nostalgic ballad is not for road trips or pool parties, it's for those afternoons in the office when you're trying to get back that feeling of freedom to enjoy the season, with no clock but the sun.

Public Enemy, "Fight the Power"

The rallying cry of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, which takes place on the hottest day of the year, is first heard in the film's opening credits, an iconic scene during which Rosie Perez dances furiously.

The Ronettes, "Be My Baby"

Blah blah Mean Streets—the best use of the most recognizable drum beat ever lies like sweat across the opening credits of Dirty Dancing. This dynamic, lush, beautifully sung lament runs over slo-mo black-and-white shots of said dance style, straight into "Big Girls Don't Cry."

The Runaways, "Cherry Bomb"

Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater's finest film, takes place on the last day of school in 1976. There are tonnes of jams, from KISS to Foghat to Aerosmith, but none cuts like The Runaways' sneering slice of defiance.

Vampire Weekend, "Cousins"

This jittery jam scores the cool skateboarding sequence that opens the contemporary queer classic The Kids Are Alright—which takes place the summer before college—and while its spazzy guitar lines are the main attraction, the lyrics, with the refrain "I can feel it coming," are some clever foreshadowing for the family implosion on its way.

The Wonders, "That Thing You Do!"

Tom Hanks' wonderful directorial debut came out in October 2006, but its relentlessly upbeat title track—trivia: written by Hanks—is pure summer. Clapalong beats, singalongs, guitar solos and sad lyrics: "That Thing You Do!" is the perfect song for hanging out on a patio while pining for some summer lovin'. Why hasn't Vampire Weekend covered this yet?

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