Features and Columns · Movies

Aural Fixation: The Sweet Movie Sounds of Modern Romance

By  · Published on February 16th, 2012

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day (which I know came and went two days ago, but I wanted to keep the romance going) I decided to get into the spirit of things by looking not just into romantic movies, but movies that featured romantic moments where music played a big part in the delivery. We all know the moment when the music swells and our two leads finally lean in, run for or jump into that kiss or embrace created to make our hearts swoon.

But I’m not talking about those moments. I’m talking about the moments where the music was just as important as anything said or done and it was the music that truly helped bring the romance to the scene (granted most of these moments were usually also paired with two good looking actors making eyes at each other).

Grab your leftover chocolate and conversation hearts and join me in watching these love birds sing, dance and profess their love through the magic of music in these movie moments that are as much about the tunes as they are about the love.

Say Anything… – Boom Box Scene

The first scene that came to my mind that best captured this idea was the iconic boom box scene in Say Anything. Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) found himself wrecked by love and attempted to turn himself into “Ice Man, Power Lloyd” to turn off his heart and keep it from any future heartbreak. But his love for Diane Court (Ione Skye) wormed its way back in and he found himself standing outside her bedroom window, boom box lifted over his head, blasting the song they first got down to and made Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” forever synonymous with this moment.

The fact that Lloyd and Diane do not exchange a single word of dialogue during this scene makes the music all the more important, not just for the lyrics Gabriel is singing (“I drive off in my car / But whichever way I go / I come back to the place you are”), but because the song itself was actually noted during this important moment in their relationship, making Lloyd’s call back to it all the more meaningful.

10 Things I Hate About You – Patrick’s Serenade

Long before he became a full-fledged movie star, Heath Ledger stole young girl’s hearts in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (based on the Shakespearean play “The Taming of the Shrew”). And while many remember this movie for Kat’s (Julia Stiles) impassioned speech listing the ten things she hated about Patrick (Ledger) or the sweet (and totally implausible – paint balls hurt!) paint ball date they went on, it was Patrick’s declaration of love for Kat via Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” that always stuck out most in my mind.

Ledger not only proves he is a decent singer in this scene, it almost made being in a high school marching band cool (if it meant you could help the school’s rebel hit the climax of his song with full musical accompaniment.) This scene was the first sign of a different side to Patrick and worked to set the groundwork that his bad boy/rebel persona may not have been all there was to him (or even true to begin with.)

Love Actually — Carol Singers

Poor Mark (Andrew Lincoln) found himself in love with his best friend Peter’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) wife Juliet (Keira Knightley) and after Juliet discovered the truth about his feelings for her, Mark did the only thing a respectable Brit could – came clean about his feelings (because that’s what you do at Christmas!) and walked away. But how does one do that without their best friend growing wise to their admission? Disguise it as Christmas carol singers going door to door! Even though Peter tells Juliet to dismiss the carolers, she stays put and one of the more romantic moments in movie history is born set to the sweet sound of carolers helping to drive home the point that, “at Christmas you tell the truth.”

Once – First Duet

In a story about two musicians who fall for one another, the most pivotal moment in their relationship would be when they first sing together and Once delivers this moment handily. Never known as more than Guy (Glen Hansard) and Girl (Marketa Irglova), the pair first sing “Falling Slowly” in the middle of a unassuming music shop, helping to add to the un-staged, almost documentary style of the film. The lyrics of the song worked as the dialogue in the scene, reflecting what Guy and Girl were starting to feel for one another. The moment comes across as not only incredibly sweet, but also very natural (probably due to the fact that Hansard and Irglova were falling in love with each other in real life as well) and helped to make “Falling Slowly” the Best Song winner at 2007 Academy Awards.

The Wedding Singer — Song Proposal

It was no question that Julia (Drew Barrymore) was engaged to a jerk (Matthew Glave’s selfish and misogynistic Glenn), but when she meets Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) it becomes clear that despite his heartbreak over his own broken engagement and Julia’s impending nuptials, the two were made for each other. Equal parts goofy and sweet, Robbie puts on his most important performance during a flight to Las Vegas and professes not only his love for Julia, but does in an sweet and funny way that perfectly matched the tone of the film and the couple’s relationship.

The song title alone (“I Wanna Grow Old With You”) is a fun twist on asking someone to spend their life with you, plus you can’t really go wrong in any scene that features Billy Idol.

500 Days Of Summer – Dancing In The Street

Have you ever had one of those moments where you are so happy you could just break into dance? Well after his first night with Summer (Zooey Deschanel), Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) does just that in this adorable scene that has him dancing through the streets of Los Angeles along with some very coordinated passersby. The moment was more than a slight wink to the audience (with a cameo by Han Solo and an animated feathered friend to boot), but it worked in showing just how in the clouds Tom was over his relationship with Summer. And while it may have been the first hint that he was overly romanticizing their relationship, it was still a sweet moment that truly depicted what it’s like when you first start falling for someone.

Dirty Dancing – Dance Lessons

You can check out the clip here. In it, the teacher becomes the student as Baby (Jennifer Grey) takes the lead and gives Johnny (Patrick Swayze) a taste of his own medicine, directing him around the dance floor this time around. Johnny’s inability to pay attention and keep his form quickly devolves into the two having more than a little fun to “Lover Boy,” playing along with and acting out the lyrics of the song. The scene not only shows how comfortable the two had become with one another, it was a fun role reversal that works as a stark contrast to their first dance lessons together and has Johnny acting like a fool in love while Baby takes charge of not only the dance, but the scene itself. The final dance scene is certainly iconic and romantic in its own right, but this smaller one always spoke to me more because it felt like a true glimpse into their relationship and had them playing with the music rather than just dancing to it.

What are some of your favorite romantic scenes that worked thanks to the music featured in them?

Plug in to more movie music with Aural Fixation

Related Topics: