Nine Films Named After Songs (That Aren’t Heard in the Film)

Pump Up the Volume
Here's another variation on a theme I've explored off and on: the confluence of song and movie titles. It's no secret that Hollywood studios will steal the title of a beloved pop hit to make a movie more palatable – the famous example is Disney/Touchstone taking a dark drama called 3000 and turning it into a romantic comedy called Pretty Woman – but, unlike Pretty Woman, occasionally the song itself is nowhere to be found on the soundtrack.
  1. Valley Girl. Frank Zappa's only Top 40 single, 1982's "Valley Girl" featured Zappa's 14-year-old daughter Moon savagely mocking Encino airheads ("Barf me out", "Gag me with a spoon", etc.). The following year, Martha Coolidge's rom-com Valley Girl, starring Deborah Foreman and a pre-fame Nicolas Cage, made good use of Modern English's "I Melt with You" and the Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away" but ignored the Zappa track completely. No wonder: Zappa had unsuccessfully sued to stop the film's production because he wanted to license "Valley Girl" for dolls, clothes, and greeting cards.
  2. Boogie Nights. For all the 1970s and 1980s chestnuts included in Paul Thomas Anderson's breakthrough, Heatwave's disco smash "Boogie Nights" was not among them. The reason? Wikipedia says Heatwave singer Johnnie Wilder Jr., a born-again Christian, refused to license the recording for a movie about pornography. I'm skeptical about this explanation, since Wilder didn't write the song, but only Anderson knows for sure. (Wilder died in 2006.)
  3. Boyz n the Hood. The track "Boyz-n-the-Hood" was rapper Eazy E's debut single in 1987. In fact it was written by his N.W.A bandmate Ice Cube. Four years later, the very same Ice Cube starred in John Singleton's urban drama Boyz n the Hood – yet despite the track's obvious influence over the film's title, "Boyz-n-the-Hood" didn't make the soundtrack.
  4. Dazed and Confused. Richard Linklater's paean to 1970s Austin teens took its title from a song written by Jake Holmes in 1967. You probably know "Dazed and Confused" from Led Zeppelin's blistering 1969 cover, later a source of legal friction between the band and Holmes. In any event, neither version of the song is in the film. Robert Plant also nixed Linklater's request to use Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll".
  5. American Pie. You will not hear Don McLean's morose, chart-topping 1971 epic anywhere in this raunchy high school comedy.
  6. Pump Up the Volume. In 1987, a short-lived act called MARRS, consisting of members of British groups Colourbox and A.R. Kane, had an unexpected dance club hit with the sample-heavy "Pump Up the Volume". It was one of only two tracks ever recorded by the collective. Three years later, a drama starring an angsty young Christian Slater borrowed the song's title but not the song itself.
  7. The Edge of Seventeen. Stevie Nicks's 1982 single (a.k.a. "Just Like the White Winged Dove"), now a classic rock staple, inspired the title of this agreeable Hailee Steinfeld vehicle. But the movie, which added a "The" for good measure, had a soundtrack too contemporary for Nicks.
  8. Some Kind of Wonderful. It's an unusual title, even more so because two entirely different songs used it. The first, a Top 40 hit for the Drifters in 1961, was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The second was written by John Ellison and was covered most successfully by Grand Funk Railroad in 1975 (where it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100). Neither appears on the soundtrack to this 1987 teen romance, written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch. (Two other Hughes-penned movies, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink, did include their corresponding songs.) Fun fact: While Some Kind of Wonderful soured the Hughes-Deutch partnership, it sparked a romance between Deutch and leading lady Lea Thompson. Decades later, they are still married; actress Zoey Deutch is their daughter.
  9. My Boyfriend's Back. This 1993 zombie comedy was directed by eternally nerdy actor Bob Balaban. It was a critical and commercial bomb. While it lifted its title – and, in a manner of speaking, its premise – from the Angels' 1963 pop hit, it didn't use the song itself, perhaps due to budget constraints. Interestingly, the film gave early jobs to then-unknowns Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, and Renée Zellweger (whose background role was cut).