What Are the Worst Movie Songs of All Time?

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 18 2011 12:52 PM

The Top Five Bad Movie Songs

Joshua Leonard at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

In The Lie, my character, Lonnie, is an aspiring musician. Lonnie’s frame of reference for pop music is stuck in 1994 Seattle. He wants to make it big, like Nirvana. The only thing standing in his way is that he’s old, not very talented, and it’s 2011.

In one scene, Lonnie proudly plays his band’s new song, “Soulcrusher,” for his wife, and we, the audience, realize for the first time just how bad he actually is. Unfortunately for him, so does his wife—and we see it all in the look on her face.


In order to write a song this bad, I approached my friend Christian Stone to help me. Christian is a great guy and a vastly talented musician—so it was not an easy ask:

Me: Hey man, would you help me write a song for my film?

Christian: Totally! I’d love to.

Me: One caveat though: The song has to be really bad.

Christian: Oh. What made you think of me?

Me: Umm… no reason. I just figured…

Christian: Fuck you, dude.

Well, I convinced him, and he came through with hideous, flying colors. I wrote the lyrics and he penned some epically dated guitar riffs—then topped it all off with a mean tambourine solo. Here are the results:

This song—I promise—is bad on purpose. Sometimes, though, movies are severely damaged by songs that are bad unintentionally. Along with au courant haircuts and fashion, a bad pop song can date an otherwise timeless story, thereby hemming it into a moment in our culture when things like synthesizers, goatees, and rock-rap were perfectly acceptable means of artistic expression.

Whether used with sincerity or irony, a bad song always calls attention to itself. Here are a few that I would pay top dollar to forget:

My Heart Will Go On,” Celine Dion, Titanic

Yeah, I get that she has a technically perfect voice… but this song makes me throw up in my mouth every time. Call me unromantic, but my personal soundtrack to love has never sounded anything like this.

I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith, Armageddon

Look, I love “Sweet Emotion” as much as the next guy, and I would never knock their early cool. But somewhere in the ’90s Aerosmith just needed to stop. I think it was all over for them when Alicia Silverstone started showing up in their videos and the albums became compilations of ballads that literally rotted your teeth out of your head while you listened to them.

Bring Me to Life,” Evanescence, Daredevil

Now that we’ve had a moment of reflection, can we all just admit that rap-rock was the worst thing to happen to popular culture in, well, ever? Honorable mentions: “Take a Look Around,” by Limp Bizkit, which appeared in Mission: Impossible II, and “Butterfly,” by Crazy Town, from Orange County. I want that machine from Eternal Sunshine to erase all memories of these songs.

Hero,” Nickleback, Spider-Man

Not only did this song degrade an otherwise decent popcorn flick, it also inspired leagues of bad goatees across the country.

I’m a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” Britney Spears, Crossroads

I’m usually a fan of song titles with commas in them. This is an exception.


The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 


How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.


A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?