05. “Just What I Needed”
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
The use of “Just What I Needed” in Boys Don’t Cry could easily be construed as too on-the-nose if it weren’t so damn heartbreaking. If you recall, the 1999 biopic stars Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, a Nebraska trans man who was killed as the result of a terrible hate crime. The song soundtracks the film’s opening scene, which introduces Brandon as he cuts his hair cut a little shorter before heading out into town to search for love at the local skating rink. There’s a hopefulness within Orr’s vocals, as well as in this scene, but whatever Brandon hopes to find is painfully out of reach.
04. “Good Times Roll”
Jawbreaker is a dark comedy in which nary a “good” thing happens, and it’s fantastic. The film stars Rose McGowan in her prime as head bitch (intended warmly) to a crew of other likeminded bitches. To avoid too many spoilers, a semi-good natured birthday prank goes bad, and one of the crew ends up dead. “Good Times Roll” is used in a particularly grim scene as an ironic elbow to the ribs that could have landed flat, but, because it’s The Cars, gives the film the edge it was going for. That also explains why the track opens the band’s 1978 self-titled debut: It sets a mood, and that mood can go any number of ways.
03. “I’m Not the One”
Billy Madison (1995)
Our fourth and final Sandler outing heads back to the school halls. Billy Madison came out in 1995, and odds are most of you reading this still quote lines from it to this day. (Stop looking at me, swan!) “I’m Not the One”, off of 1981’s Shake It Up, finds Ocasek at lead vocals with bassist Benjamin Orr and the rest of the band coming together to add backing vocals. The track plays as Billy, a grown man whose adult body is squeezed into an old-fashioned school desk, handles a stack of elaborately hand-made Valentines. Warm? A little. Hint of Dateline? Also that. Nevertheless, the brilliantly juxtaposed track adds an endearing sweetness to the scenario.
02. “Dangerous Type”
The Craft (1994)
If something cool or sexy happens in a movie, it’s probably best to just go ahead and make it happen in slow motion. This is just a cinematic fact. For 1994’s The Craft, Letters to Cleo borrowed Ocasek’s Cars, covering their Candy-O classic “Dangerous Type”. The inspired cover plays when Fairuza Balk’s Nancy leads her newly-minted coven of witches down the locker-lined hallway of their high school. To be featured on a soundtrack for one of the best ’90s movies and have your song (cover or not) be used in a high value slow-motion scene? Well, that’s just the golden ticket. No shade to Cleo or anything, but could you imagine if the OG version had been used? Would have cast quite a spell on things. Nevertheless, Balk, dressed in her Hot Topic finest, flashing her teeth, and faking kisses at a bunch of normy a-holes while this plays is a pretty damn near perfect scenario.
01. “Moving in Stereo”
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
An instrumental version of “Moving in Stereo” added an air of tense seduction to a scene that many people can pinpoint as being the cause of their first sexual, um, “awakening.” Phoebe Cates had only been in one other movie when she landed the role of Linda Barrett in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and it’s the role she’s known for to this day. Now, even if you don’t remember the rest of Cameron Crowe’s story, you will never, ever forget that iconic image of her climbing slowly out of a swimming pool in a red bikini with matching red lips. For Christ’s sake, if you were to Google “boner”, this scene might automatically play … and yes, so would “Moving in Stereo”.