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Top Ten: Song Titles That Should Be Movies

This week's top ten list is dedicated to James T, one of my fav readers and twitterers, who asked me some time ago to "pick song titles that you'd have liked to be the titles of movies that should exist." I couldn't resist the odd wildly random challenge and given that I recently hosted a karaoke party (don't ask) I'm in the mood. So here goes...This list was actually hard to make because so many songs -- even great ones -- have totally generic titles.  


Next year can we have Fiona Apple title all the movies that come out?

Runners up: ""Extraordinary Machine, Hot Knife" or any of her album titles -Fiona Apple... and can we talk her into trying acting?, "Please Don't Make Me Too Happy" - Christine Lavin, "Backwoods Barbie" - Dolly Parton cuz she loves to write about herself so why not a fun biopic?

10 "Do You Wanna Funk" -Sylvester
And can it be a serious yet fun movie about discos and clubbing in the 1970s?  54 was so lame.

09 "Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen
But only if it's a romantic comedy that comes out in 2013 (like, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun would be a stupid title for a movie now but it was just right back in 1985!) . And yes I sang this at karaoke. Don't judge.


08 "Moves Like Jagger" - Maroon 5
I don't even like the song that much but my god that's a great hooky title.

07 "Oceania" -Björk
Especially if there are weird sea creatures, singing mermaids, deep sea madness, and art world superstars who flay themselves until they turn into whales.

P.S. But I really wish this Björk video were a feature film

06 "The Ladies Who Lunch" -Stephen Sondheim. 
Because I had to have a Sondheim song in here and so I settled on one from "Company" because I so wish that Company were a masterpiece movie as company to Company the masterpiece stage musical. Bonus points if this is an ensemble satire about well heeled women so haughty and superior they make Maggie Smith look like a cuddly accomodating BFF.

I don't care if I have to wait until Anna Kendrick is old enough to star in it.

05 "Hollaback Girl" - Gwen Stefani
When Gwen Stefani started singing about them I didn't even know what they were. The urban dictionary informed that that's a "girl that is willing to be treated like a doormat or booty call. She is a girl that will allow guys to do whatever they want with her and will just wait for them to 'holla back' at them". I'm all for weepie melodramas about Women Who Lie To Themselves™ so give me this movie now but only if someone can make a weepy melodrama that's also a self-empowerment comedy so that the girl can realize that shit is bananas by the end of the movie. 

04 "Gypsys Tramps and Thieves" - Cher
I wanted a Cher song in here and though "Dark Lady" has helpfully already written it's entire plot synopsis for us, it's kind of a dull title. Give me an omnibus movie immediately in which 10 stylish directors are asked to interpret this title in short films to be released as one feature.  Enough with the "I ♥ Insert [This City Here]" franchise. Gypsys Tramps and Thieves. Which ten directors should direct? Go!

03 Anything by Tom Waits
"The Piano Has Been Drinking", "Shiver Me Timbers", "Hang On St. Christopher", "Tango Til They're Sore", "God's Away on Business", "Jockey Full of Bourbon" "Ol' 55" "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You", etcetera. You're already dreaming of what fantastical, gritty, evocative, drunken, witty movies these song titles would make. I know you are!

02 "Freeek!" - George Michael
Mostly I just always wanted George Michael's "Fast Love" and "Freeek" music videos to fuck and give birth to a monster love child feature film baby. But Fast Love is a boring title and I'd want the movie to have some of "Freeek!"s unashamedly drrty energy / costuming abandon. Basically I think the world really needs hornier sci-fi films. So many of them are sexless beyond casting "pretty" actresses. Even when sci-fi movies have sexbots as major characters (Blade Runner, A.I. Artificial Intelligence) sex isn't part of the plot equation.

This number two entry has been brought to you by George Michael's recent participation in the Olympic Closing Ceremony singing one of his many classics "Freedom (90)". Pity that his troubled personal life and troubled relationships with recording contracts (and thus infrequent CD releases) have obscured the fact that he's a damn fine songwriter.

01 "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - Taylor Swift
The title / lyric of Taylor Swift's latest hit is my favorite thing she's ever done. (Not that the bar was high!) I love when pop stars understand to be super immature and catchy simultaneously. Plus in our world lousy with Lawless style titling, anything ultra specific wins. I see this is as a anti-romantic comedy... like a War of the Roses thing.

Naturally, I have to ask which of these you'd see? And which song titles you picture movies to go with...

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Reader Comments (29)

You are so right about Fiona Apple.

And I really wanna watch the Oceania and Gypsys Tramps and Thieves movies, sounds much better than many of the things I saw this year. And Hollaback Girl could be the next project for Leslie Headlund.

I would choose You're the Storm by The Cardigans for a romantic drama or Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle & Sebastian for a Greta Gerwig comedy.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterremy

It really feels like we should have had a movie called Chick Habit by now. I also would have said The Only Living Boy in New York, but they're working on it.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill H

Oh ... and Space Oddity.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill H

I brought up Jumpin' Jack Flash recently and now this. True most song titles are generic.

The Anchor Song — Bjork
Man From Mars — Joni Mitchell
Nipple To The Bottle — Grace Jones
Adam Lives In Theory — Lauryn Hill
O' Sailor — Fiona Apple

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

The Smiths have the best titles:
•That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
•I Started Something I Couldn't Finish
•Death Of A Disco Dancer
•What Difference Does It Make?
•There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
•The Boy with the Thorn in His Side
•How Soon Is Now
•I Want The One I Can't Have
•Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
•Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

But these are the two movies that should exist:
•The Queen Is Dead (Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty)... A drag queen is dead, her last wish was to be buried in England, all her friends will transport her body in a ship... Think Fellini's And the Ship Sails On with drag queens.
•Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before... A romantic comedy about a rom-com screenwriter (a true romantic) who falls in love with an eccentric girl, only to find that she is not impressed with any of his flirting tactics.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuiserghio

MISS OTIS REGRETS This Cole Porter song tells an intriguing story that just bags to be fleshed out
SOMETHING COOL June Christy and Rickie Lee Jones really make these lyrics come alive. It could make a great character study.
BALLAD OF THE SAD YOUNG MEN. Who are all these sad young men, glasses full of rye? What happened to make them so miserable?
THE MOON'S A HARSH MISTRESS I see this Jimmy Webb song as a potential scifi vehicle
IF I CAN'T SELL IT I'LL SIT ON IT Oscar loves stories about prostitutes with hearts of gold

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I remember when I first heard the bootleg version of Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine" and thought it sounded like a musical. Jon Brion, ya know. I've never listened to the studio version of the album though since I think I read she didn't like the original edit and I can't imagine those songs any differently.

I've always been fond of Hole's "Use Once and Destroy", Huey Lewis and The News' "I Want a New Drug", Malcolm McLaren's "Deep in Vogue", Radiohead's "Idioteque", and a film adaptation of Lana Del Rey's "National Anthem".

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

For the longest time, I thought Gwen Stefani was singing "I ain't no Harlem black girl" and couldn't understand how a song like that could get play on the radio.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterK

Since my username comes from that song's chorus, I might as well suggest it: What the Water Gave Me (Florence + the Machine), a Lars Von Trier epic that can only be described as The Hours meets Caligula but even more trippy. Hopefully Von Trier goes all meta and combines the cast of the two because Kidman, Moore, Streep, Collette, Reilly, Harris, Danes, Daniels, Mirren, McDowell (Malcolm, NOT Andie), O'Toole feat. John Gielgud's hologram--plus all those erect penises--sounds like a hell of a cast!

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpockets full of stones

Lili, Rosemary, & the Jack of Hearts - Bob Dylan
Life in a Northern Town - The Dream Academy
The Curse - Josh Ritter
Another New World - Josh Ritter
The Christians & the Pagans - Dar Williams

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric Arvin

I'd see Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves (obviously) and anything based on Company. Speaking of, have you heard that the DVD/Blu Ray of the 2011 version with Neil Patrick Harris and a slew of others stars is going to be released (FINALLY) on November 13?

And I'd buy an opening night ticket to any movie based on Beyonce's "Irreplaceable." Hopefully, it's like her version of J-Lo's terrible/awesome "Enough."

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Has there ever been a movie with the title Sweet Georgia Brown? If there hasn't, there should be. I also second the call for a Miss Otis Regrets film!

Fall Out Boy has some great song titles, but my favorite for a movie title is "Of All The Gin Joints in All the World" because I want to see a film about the making of Casablanca. Also: "Grenade Jumper" should be the next project for Mark Boal and Katherine Bigelow.

I always thought Girls Aloud's "Deadlines & Diets" was such a great title, and it's perfect for a generic rom-com with Katherine Heigl and/or Jennifer Aniston and/or Jessica Biel about a busy woman who doesn't have time for love what with her professional life always getting in the way, until she joins a gym and falls in love with her personal trainer (Chris Evans/Chris Pine/Taylor Kitsch) who pretends to be gay so that he can get away with ogling/feeling up the women he trains without any harassment or commitment, until he ALSO falls in love with her! Hijinks, misunderstandings, and angry recriminations ensue until they both realize that none of that matters because they both love each other anyway!

Also: Amy WInehouse's "Back to Black" (perhaps for her inevitable biopic?)

I thought for sure that Bjork video you linked to was going to be the GENIUS "It's Oh So Quiet", but "All Is Full Of Love" is beautiful, too.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I once wrote a short story collection with titles ripped from Spineshank's 'Self-Destructive Pattern' album...namely track titles:

Violent Mood Swings
Beginning of the End
Self-Destructive Pattern

I know, ubber serious, but it worked in the relm of what I was writing at the time. I still think that my story of Violent Mood Swings (about a man dealing with the guilt of watching his friend get killed in a robbery and doing nothing to stop it) would make a great film.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

The robots from the All is Full of Love video look eerily similar to the robots from I, Robot, so maybe the movie had been made already? Kind of? I'll also add the Bjork song "Unravel" to the list.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is the most Taylor Swift-y title imaginable. It's pretty much a sum-up of her entire musical catalog up until this point.

I would be really surprised if a movie titled "Call Me Maybe" wasn't released within the next two years.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

EEEEEK. I'm at work and don't have the time to obsessively decide which songs I want as movies, but I love this post. (Make it a meme, people, so many great ideas.)

I'll be back with more detailed thoughts, probably, but off the top of my head I STAYED TOO LONG AT THE FAIR which could very well end up being a musical tale about a performer who overstays her welcome on the stage and she'll sing the title track.

Love your idea for THE LADIES WHO LUNCH. Can we start dream-casting it?

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewK.

Some song titles just conjure up all sorts of visionary and thematic delights: Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man" could easily become a paen to forbidden love in the Old South; Helen Reddy's "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady" an ironic take on modern love and neo-feminism; Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" a sleek update of "Prizzi's Honor"; Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" a youthful meditation on two outsiders discovering first love; and Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" an incendiary command to treat love as it should be--an unstoppable force that breaks, not follows, all laws of nature. But please, no Bieber movie titles.Those would give "generic" a black and white label.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

"Strawberry Letter 22" by Brother Johnson

Played out as a dirty sexy love story.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Apart from Crusing Together, starring Cruise & Travolta ;), the song I have most vivid pictures coming to my mind every time I listen to it is Glory Days, by Bruce Springsteen. There're others like American Pie that evoke images from already made movies. I love narrative songs, the ones that tell a story from beginning to end and I'm not sure if when made into movies,I'd like them.

I'd also love to see what kind of movie could come from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or Strawberry Fields Forever. Or even Rihanna's Umbrella (ella, ella).

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

More Nick Cave songs should be used.

Stranger than Kindness / The Kindness of Strangers could be two movies from the same series.
The Mercy Seat. Straight To You, I Let Love In, Nobody's Baby Now, Lovely Creature, The Curse of Millhaven, Where the Wild Roses Grow, Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow, The Sorrowful Wife, Darker with the Day, Jesus of the Moon, More News from Nowhere.

At least we already have "Bring It On".

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

LOL at iggy's post! Simply hilarious!

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Bubblegum Bitch by Marina & the Diamonds is not only a great song but a movie I would LOVE to see.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

My first thought is of one of the great "story songs," "Romeo and Juliet" by Dire Straits. Of course, you'd have to find a way to differentiate it from the Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet.

Also would like to see one of those chock-full-of-attitude songs Lucinda Williams knows how to get out there: "Those Three Days," "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," or "Everything Has Changed" just for starters.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Stars--The Night Starts Here, The Beginning After the End, Take Me to the Riot, Set Yourself on Fire

Antony and the Johnsons--The Crying Light, I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy

Tom Waits--Hang on St. Christopher, Frank's Wild Years, The Ghosts of Saturday Night

Joni Mitchell--The Last Time I Saw Richard, The Beat of Black Wings, Court and Spark, You Turn Me on I'm a Radio, In France They Kiss on Main Street, The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Tori Amos--Putting the Damage on, Playboy Mommy

David Bowie--Joe the Lion, Queen Bitch

PJ Harvey--My Beautiful Leah, A Perfect Day Elise, This Mess We're In

Beach House--10 Mile Stereo

The New Pornographers--The Laws Have Changed, Ballad of a Comeback Kid

Feist--Look at What the Light Did Now, My Moon My Man

Cocteau Twins--Seekers Who Are Lovers, Heaven or Las Vegas,

Air--Kelly Watch the Stars, Sexy Boy, Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping

Neko Case--The Tigers Have Spoken, I Wish I Was the Moon, This Tornado Loves You

Sheryl Crow--My Favorite Mistake

Radiohead--How to Disappear Completely

Charlotte Gainsbourg--The Songs That We Sing, Time of the Assassins, Looking Glass Blues

Iron & Wine--Woman King

Lykke Li--Love Out of Lust

Massive Attack--Unfinished Sympathy

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I loved waking up to this!!!

Thanks for the dedication, Nathaniel. Cool choices!

Someone should absolutely make a movie called "Spice up your life". It would be about a bored housewife (Winslet, duh) who meets a bank robber (Swinton) and decides to go to the Bank Robbing school in which Faye Dunaway teaches, to learn how to be a useful partner for Tilda.
Nobody dies from that movie so there will be a sequel called "Oops I did it again" in which Winslet will again be bored with her situation so she will try to become part of the local mafia in order to hook up with the Godmother, Viola Davis.
And at random moments we'll be seeing scenes of Pettyfer and Cavill fucking because, damn, lesbianism is cool but I'm sure tou know what's even cooler...

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

The Decemberists have great song titles that would make great movie titles:

The Wanting Comes in Waves
My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist
O Valencia!
Youth and Beauty Brigade
I Was Meant for the Stage

I'll also suggest songs by Saint Etienne:

Haunted Jukebox
Cool Kids of Death
Junk the Morgue
Slow Down at the Castle
Heart Failed in the Back of a Taxi
Erica America
Uri Geller Bent My Boyfriend

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandro

Lily rosemary and the jack of hearts-bob dylan aka GOD
Killer Queen-Queen
Lilac Wine-jeff buckley
I Me Mine-the Beatles
Cecilia-fito paez- it would have to feature Cecilia Roth as the star/muse since she is the muse and the song is for her/about her
By the time I get to Phoenix-Johnny Rivers
Little lies-fleetwood mac
Black magic Woman-Santana

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

How could I forget "simple twist of fate" by Dylan???

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Garbage's "The Trick is to Keep Breathing", "Sleep Together", "Cherry Lips", "Supervixen", "Automatic Systematic Habit".

No Doubt's "Artificial Sweetener", "Platinum Blonde Life", "Suspension Withouth a Suspense"

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFernando Moss

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