Nine songs that surged in popularity following a TV or film feature

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Nine songs that surged in popularity following a TV or film feature

Running Up that hill stranger things
Words by Harry Connell

Running Up that Hill? More like running back up those charts.

Last year, the release of the fourth season of Stranger Things took the world by storm. It posted the biggest premiere weekend for an English-language TV show on Netflix, with over 286 million hours viewed. In the fourth episode titled ‘Dear Billy’, Kate Bush’s song ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ played a crucial role in the story, and as a result, introduced Bush to a new generation of music fans.

Released in 1985 as the lead single off Bush’s fifth studio album Hounds of Love, the song peaked at #6 on the Aussie charts and in 2022, 36 years after its release, found itself at #1 on the ARIA charts.

This got us thinking about other songs that have been given a second life following their use in TV or film, so here are a few more (spoilers ahead).

Read all the latest features, columns and more here. 

‘Come and Get Your Love’ – Redbone (Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014)

James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy has one of the greatest movie soundtracks in recent years, boasting an array of ’70s hits such as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Mr. Blue Sky’, and Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a Feeling’.

One that was very well received was Redbone’s 1974 hit ‘Come and Get Your Love’, which was used in one of the film’s opening scenes, as protagonist Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) jammed out to it on his Sony Walkman.

It’s worth noting too that the soundtrack as a whole was very successful, and reached the second spot in the Aussie album charts in 2014.

‘Something in the Way’ – Nirvana (The Batman, 2022)

‘Something in the Way’ is the twelfth track off Nirvana’s iconic 1991 album Nevermind, and following the release of Matt Reeves’ The Batman has seen a resurgence this year.

Used numerous times throughout the film, trailers, and even alluded to in the score by Michael Giacchino, the song has now become synonymous with this year’s take on the caped crusader.

According to director Matt Reeves, this film’s Batman, played by Robert Pattinson is inspired in part by Kurt Cobain – a tormented public figure who goes into seclusion to battle his demons.

The song didn’t just see a jump on streaming services, but was also popularised through social media platform TikTok, as a lot of Batman-related memes began to circulate after its release in March this year.

‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ – Tiffany (The Umbrella Academy, Season 1, 2019)

In February of 2019, Netflix released The Umbrella Academy, and it quickly became one of the most streamed series on the platform that year.

In the opening episode of the show, Tiffany’s 1987 cover of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ is featured as the Hargreeves kids dance around in separate rooms of their mansion.

The song was originally performed by Tommy James and the Shondells in 1966, before being covered multiple times, but most notably by Tiffany Darwish in 1987 who took the song to #1 in various countries, including the US, UK, and New Zealand.

Much like the aforementioned ‘Something in the Way’, this too took off on TikTok due to the show’s popularity, being used in several trend videos.

‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ – Stealers Wheel (Reservoir Dogs, 1992)

Soundtrack is something that is clearly very important to Quentin Tarantino, and in the case of 1992’s Reservoir Dogs (his directorial debut, not bad hey) the choice to use Stealers Wheel’s 1973 track ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ proved to be a good one.

Used in the scene where character Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) tortures policeman Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz) while singing and dancing to the song, Tarantino told Rolling Stone that he thought it would work well and got actors to audition with the song playing.

“The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie… I was thinking, oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!”

Due to the film’s success, and the popularity of the scene, the song had a bit of a resurgence in the ’90s.

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: We have the clip below, if you’re not familiar with the scene, watch at your own discretion due to torturous elements and blood.

‘Immigrant Song’ – Led Zeppelin (Thor: Ragnarok, 2017)

‘Immigrant Song’ released in 1970, but in 2017, nearly 50 years later, found itself in one of the biggest MCU films to date.

Thor: Ragnarok was directed by Taika Waititi, who was a strong advocate for the song’s inclusion – featuring twice in the film and in the trailer.

Originally inspired by the band’s trip to Iceland, the song’s lyrics spin a tale on Norse mythology, and even feature the line “hammer of the gods”, so it was only a matter of time before it made its way into a Thor film.

Due to its inclusion in the film’s trailer, ‘Immigrant Song’ found its way to the #16 spot on Billboard’s Hot Rock Charts, and on top of the Hard Rock Digital Song Sales chart, with seven thousand sales over a seven-day span.

‘In This Shirt’ – The Irrepressibles (Snowpiercer Season 2, 2021)

This sombre but gorgeous orchestral-infused track was released back in 2010, but has seen some recent success this past year after it featured in Netflix’s post-apocalyptic series Snowpiercer.

It can be heard during a party scene, where two characters Audrey and Mr Wilford experience a flashback sequence, and is a great choice to portray the duality of the pair’s obsessive romance.

Like many songs on this list, it can thank TikTok for a lot of its success though, and if you don’t recognise the name and you’re a user of the app, you’ll almost certainly know it once you hear it.

‘Angel of the Morning’ – Juice Newton (Deadpool, 2016)

Surprise! Another Marvel film on this list.

Juice Newton’s 1981 cover was the highest charting and best-selling interpretation of Chip Taylor’s ‘Angel of the Morning’, peaking at #2 in the Aussie charts that year.

It was its use in 2016’s Deadpool that gave it a newfound place in pop culture though, featuring in the opening scene of the film.

The song acts as a bit of an ironic choice, juxtaposing the crude humour and strong violence we see in the opening scene, and director Tim Miller said that the song was going to feature in the film from day one.

“It has always been the perfect contrast to the complete and utter mayhem going on in the scene,” he said.


‘Rock and Roll Part II’ – Gary Glitter (Joker, 2019)

Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock and Roll Part II’ featured in Todd Phillips’ critically acclaimed Joker in 2019, in what has quickly become one of the most iconic scenes in modern film.

In the scene, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) dances down a staircase to the 1982 smash hit – but it was met with some controversy.

Many believed that Glitter would profit from the song’s use in the film, however it was later revealed this would not be the case, and that the rights are now owned by Universal Music Publishing Group.

It’s also worth mentioning the song’s use in iconic 1996 comedy ‘Happy Gilmore’, during an epic showdown between Happy (Adam Sandler) and his rival Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald).

‘Where Is My Mind?’ – The Pixies (Fight Club, 1999)

I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to talk about this one…

In 1999, The Pixies’ alternative/ indie rock song ‘Where Is My Mind?’ accompanied the famous final scene of Fight Club, as the protagonist (played by Edward Norton) and Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) watched the city skyline collapse around them.

The song itself released in 1988 and is the seventh track on the band’s debut album Surfer Rosa of the same year, but the success of Fight Club certainly helped the song reach an even wider audience.

It’s fair to say that ‘Where Is My Mind?’ will always be tied to that defining moment in cinema.  

Read about Running Up That Hill’s induction into the “Billion Club” here.