Top Gun, Almost Famous, Ferris Bueller and the Top Ten spontaneous musical numbers in movie history

By Brad Sturdivant

Full fledged musicals have been popular since the invention of the “talkie”, but we shouldn’t forget that some of the best musical moments in film history have actually occurred in some surprising films.  You don’t have to live in a world where everyone sings and dances, sometimes it’s okay to just bust out into a song and have some fun.

10. GREMLINS 2: The New Batch – ‘New York, New York’:  Is there anything better than watching a building full of green monsters belting out Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” before heading out on the town to wreak havoc?  The sequel is filled with funny and out of the blue scenes, but the musical number was one of the best.

Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler in First Wive's Club

9. FIRST WIVE’S CLUB – ‘You Don’t Own Me’:  Watching Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn finish off the movie with this gem was cute and left this song stuck in my head for days after.  This is the first of two spontaneous end-of-movie songs on the list…

8. 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN – ‘Age of Aquarius’: The last scene of the movie has Steve Carell blurting out a “victory” song after his conquest and bringing in all of his friends for the music video style sequence.  The best part about this scene is that nothing we witnessed before this gave us any indication we were going to end with a musical number.

7. FLETCH LIVES – ‘Zip-a-dee-doo-dah’ :  The Fletch movies feature Chevy Chase at his sarcastic best, but let’s not forget that they have some hilarious and spontaneous comedy sprinkled throughout as well.  One such moment came with Fletch daydreaming about bluebirds on his shoulder and the subsequent song that had the audience laughing.

Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler in Armageddon

6. ARMAGEDDON – ‘Leavin’ on a Jetplane’: Perhaps appealing to my romantic side, Bay managed to pull the audience back into reality with a heartfelt embrace and song from Ben Affleck to Liv Tyler.  He even got some chorus help from his space-traveling pals.  For a minute, just a minute, we forgot how ridiculous the film was.

5. BACK TO THE FUTURE – ‘Johnny B. Good”: BTF is filled with many memorable moments, but one of the best is when Marty McFly picked up the guitar at his parents’ prom and rocked the classic Chubby Checker song.  And then he topped it off with the great line “your kids are going to love it”.

Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

4. FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF – ‘Danke Schoen/Twist and Shout’: I hesitated putting this on here because technically Broderick is lip-syncing the classic Beatles’ song, but it was a great moment in a great 80’s movie, so it had to make the list.  I’m still not sure how he snuck away from his friends long enough to arrange this or why no one questioned the fact he sounded just like John Lennon, but hey, it was the 80’s.

3. TOP GUN – ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’: I’ve seen the movie so many times now that this scene doesn’t surprise me anymore, but I can imagine being in the theater when this was first released and realizing that Maverick is even cooler than we originally thought.  Not many guys can sing one verse of one song to a girl in a bar and not “crash and burn”, but Tom Cruise actually pulled it off.

2. MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING – ‘I Say A Little Prayer For You’: If we were ranking purely on “impromptu”, then this would technically be #1.  The movie itself was decent, but when they busted out this song at the dinner table, I was taken aback by the spontaneity of it.  It was a great moment that made a forgettable film memorable.

Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit in Almost Famous

1. ALMOST FAMOUS – ‘Tiny Dancer’: This should be an obvious choice given how it was a pivotal scene in the movie and the moment most people remember from the film.  It also doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the greatest songs ever recorded and one of the best movies of the last twenty years.  But it came at such a perfect moment in the movie and as soon as the music starts, it’s hard not to sing along with the band.  It’s a great scene in movie history.

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