Why Aren’t the Most Popular Songs Used in Movies?

You would expect some of the best movies to use the biggest hits to attract more viewers. But it almost never happens. Comments on many online forums raise this question, so this article attempts to give a few answers.


Of course, you know that film creators do not just pick up a song and insert it into their work. They need a contract agreement with the owner of the work. It is both tedious and expensive to get a famous piece to work with. This is because musicians usually already have rights contracts with other bodies like record labels and marketers, which might need to be renegotiated before a new deal is sealed. It thus becomes easier to have an artist create a soundtrack from scratch.

Uniqueness and Theme

Filmmakers want their work to stand out. If they use the biggest song, much of the credit might go to the soundtrack than the movie itself. Therefore, they opt to go for a different role that assumes the supporting role comfortably. For instance, Lose Yourself, created by Eminem for 8 Mile, ended up eclipsing the movie in popularity. The same happened with Jay Z’s Total Commitment (American Gangster), and the same has happened with the tracks from Slumdog Millionaire.

Moreover, the music in movies needs to meet the theme purpose. Even if a song is topping the charts now, it might not make sense to use it to back a movie set in the 1900s. This thematic requirement spells out the music to use.

Self Sufficiency

Nowadays, most movie production facilities are equipped with facilities to even produce their own music. They take time to create their own sounds as they create other parts of the film. This has been made easier by technological progress, which makes it possible to create pretty much everything producers can fathom.

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