"Top Five" movie montage songs


Movie directors are sometimes charged with a daunting task: How to cram something that would take weeks, months or years to complete into the storyline of a two-hour movie. Building a house, training for a fight and courting a significant other all take a long time. That’s where the montage comes in. Carefully strewn together and set to music, it compresses these long term events into one five-minute clip that usually occurs right before the climax of a movie.

“You’re the Best” – “Karate Kid”
Daniel LaRusso has been picked on throughout the movie, but his training with Mr. Miyagi is starting to pay off. He enters the All-Valley Tournament when this gem of a song kicks in. He then proceeds to fight his way past some anonymously evil Cobra Kai members on his way to a final showdown with Johnny, the main antagonist. This song should be the soundtrack to everything.

“Gonna Fly Now” – “Rocky”
Probably the quintessential montage song of all time, this has such a mainstream appeal in all facets of life where someone is facing nearly impossible odds. Who hasn’t wanted to run up the steps and raise their arms in triumph like Rocky at some point in their lives?

“The Montage Song” – “Team America: World Police”
Lyrics like “Show a lot of things happening at once/Remind everyone of what’s going on (what’s going on?)/And with every shot you show a little improvement/To show it all would take too long/That’s called a montage (montage)” demonstrate the fact Trey Parker and Matt Stone not only understand what a montage is, but how to completely skewer it.

“Winner Takes it All” – “Over the Top”
Possibly the best – and only – movie written about a trucker who enters a professional arm wrestling tournament and in the process reunites with his estranged son, gets revenge on his father-in-law and fixes his monetary problems. This ‘80s rocker is performed by none other than Sammy Hagar, who provides the background music for sweaty muscular dudes trying to rip each others’ arms off for prize money in Las Vegas.

“Higher and Higher” – “Wet Hot American Summer”
Another song mocking the idea of the montage and clocking in at less than two minutes, “Higher and Higher” is an ‘80s-like inspirational rocker. But what separates it from other montages is the training that takes place during the song appears to take weeks, but in the movie, a clock shows only two minutes have elapsed.

Compiled by Jason Yurgartis.