The end of any film needs a good, rousing soundtrack. Otherwise, as exemplified by the imperious Star Wars: Minus Williams, it's just some people standing about looking gormless while the guy who rolls the credits limbers up.
Here are 15 of our best - and by "best", we mean "most appropriate and outright cool" - closing songs in film...
Pixies - Where Is My Mind?
The ending of Fight Club goes like this (including spoilers, in case you’re one of the eight people who’s not seen it): Tyler works out that Tyler is Tyler. Tyler shoots self in head. Tyler says: “You met me at a very strange time in my life.” Banks explode. The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind? cranks into life and sums everything up. Audience goes ‘Whoah.’
The Big Lebowski
Townes Van Zandt – Dead Flowers (Rolling Stones cover)
Allegedly, the Stones’ manager Allen Klein was holding out for $150,000 for the rights to use this song at the end of The Big Lebowski. However, when he heard The Dude utter the immortal line “I hate the fuckin’ Eagles, man” he was so delighted that he let the Cohen brothers have it for free. The version used on the film is by cult musician Townes Van Zandt, from his album Roadsongs.
Bob Dylan - Shelter From The Storm
No record collection – WE SAY NONE – should be without Dylan’s 1975 opus Blood On The Tracks. This refrain is the most pertinent to the film: "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"” In tandem with the sign-off from Dicky Fox (Jerry’s mentor in the movie) the message here is to get your home life straight and the rest will follow.
Sid Vicious – My Way
Not long after Ray Liotta’s stopped freaking out to imaginary helicopters and the piano bit from Derek & The Dominoes’ epic Layla, he winds up in court. Next comes the punk rock manifesto of Sid Vicious’s My Way. Joe Pesci doesn’t seem to find any of it very funny.
Underworld - Born Slippy
Underworld’s Born Slippy is the perfect choice for the end of this Danny Boyle classic. As Renton (Ewan MacGregor) commits the ultimate betrayal of his friends to save himself, the song provides the backdrop for his ‘Choose Life’ mantra. A culturally iconic moment of the ’90s.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Moby – Extreme Ways
For most sensible people, the end of the third Bourne film comes as a musical epiphany. Instead of being a guy who makes dreary music for adverts, it turns out that Moby’s pretty amazing. Who knew?
Nat King Cole – Almost Like Being In Love
Forget Sonny and Cher’s I Got You, Babe – the most uplifting bit in this existential classic is delivered by Nat King Cole. When today finally becomes tomorrow, weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) heads outside with his new love, Rita (Andie MacDowell), to the joyous sound of Almost Like Being In Love. Finally, he’s ready to get on with the rest of his life.
Platoon/The Elephant Man
Samuel Barber - Adagio For Strings
Samuel Barber's Adagio For Strings is the sort of thing you pop on the iPod for your commute (unless you’re heading into a particularly heavy-duty meeting that morning), but a moving piece of modern classical music, nonetheless. Written in 1936, it has appeared in many films and computer games – most notably deployed at the end of David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and Oliver Stone’s Platoon to yank hard at the heartstrings.
Nilsson – Coconut
You can’t do a list of great music in films without mentioning Tarantino. His first two movies in particular, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, harvest gems from the ‘70s. Harry Nilsson’s whimsical, single-chord Coconut is the perfect contrast to Reservoir Dogs’ tense and bloody final scene.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Yello – Oh Yeah
The synergy of a youthful Matthew Broderick doling out a carefree life mantra and a synthesised voice growling “Oh Yeah” will probably never be bettered in cinema. Bravo.
Good Will Hunting
Elliott Smith – Miss Misery
This moving song brought the music of Elliott Smith to much wider attention when it received an Oscar nomination in 1998. Thought it lost out to the schmaltz-fest of Titanic and Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, Smith performed at the ceremony. Arguably, the singer never fully came to terms with his newfound fame. He died in 2003 aged 34.
Faces – Ooh La La
Wes Anderson’s films use a lot of good music, thanks to the input of DEVO legend Mark Mothersbaugh. For the ending of his second movie, the gloriously silly Rushmore, the pair selected the Faces’ Ooh La La. It’s a great choice, especially the timing of the line, “I wish that I knew what I know now/When I was younger”, as the curtains close on Max Fischer and Rosemary Cross sharing a dance.
Romeo + Juliet
Radiohead – Exit Music (For A Film)
Though it appears at the end of Romeo + Juliet, this song didn’t appear on the OST. Instead, it was held over for Radiohead’s 1997 classic OK Computer. It’s pretty bleak stuff, which suits the story’s double-suicide, emo-supernovae ending. (If that last sentence was a spoiler we can deduce that you failed your English GCSE.)
Stand By Me
Ben E. King – Stand By Me
Though Stand By Me is based on Stephen King’s novella The Body, the film takes its name from the Ben E. King song. It’s a decision that enhances this classic, stirring tale of adventure, friendship and solidarity.
Gary Jules - Mad World
Just what was it that happened in Donnie Darko? Does anyone know? At the very least, Gary Jules’ plaintive cover of Tears For Fears’ classic Mad World went some way to reflecting the mind-jumble experienced by the audience. A mad world, indeed.