The 10 Most Overused Songs In Movies And TV, According To Reddit

Ash Stranger Things season four has recently proved once again, a perfectly placed pop song can elevate a movie and TV show to the next level. Though music has always been a part of the motion picture medium, some songs get used too much, and they lose the power they once had.

No matter what genre the music comes from, fans can often grow tired of hearing hit songs over and over again when they try to enjoy a movie or show. Though there are plenty of overused songs, users on Reddit took to the site to lament the songs that they think are most overplayed.

“How To Save A Life” By The Fray

Hospital doctors stand around listening to an announcement in Grey's Anatomy


Though the band The Fray came from the indie rock scene, their hit song “How to Save a Life” broke into the mainstream. Unfortunately, user uselessequations saw that the song was overexposed, writing “Obviously ‘How to Save a Life’ on every hospital show in the early 2000s”.

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What made the song tantalizing to use was the fact that its lyrics were vague enough to apply to almost any situation, and yet it had emotional weight. It was made doubly enticing for medical dramas because of its evocative hook. Unfortunately, many shows had the same idea, and it appeared far too many times.

“Send Me On My Way” By Rusted Root

Miss Honey in Matilda

When asked what songs were overplayed, user ZephyrBiscuit was succinct in saying “‘Send Me On My Way’ by Rusted Root.” Though most people might not know the band, or even the title of the song itself, “Send Me On My Way” is nevertheless buried in most viewers’ memories.

Debuting in the early in the decade, the song eventually ended up on the soundtracks of some of the best kids movies of the 1990s, and even maintained its popularity into the 2000s in films like Ice Age. The song is bright and bubbly, and the music fits perfectly with a journey or exciting adventure. While the band never found much success, their sleeper hit was so popular in movies and TV that it long overstayed its welcome.

“Hallelujah” By Leonard Cohen

Shrek and Fiona holding hands at sunset in Shrek

Folk icon Leonard Cohen was revered within his genre, but his music never found much commercial success. However, his song “Hallelujah” was another story altogether. When writing about the song, user DeBatton wrote “Every movie and TV show started using covers of this song around 2000…the law of diminishing returns kicked in very fast.”

Never one to stray away from hard-hitting and poetic lyrics, Cohen’s song was a far cry from what it was used as in most movies. Easily covered, the song became a catchall for all sorts of stories and helped movies like Shrek have unexpectedly good soundtracks. Nevertheless, repetition robbed it of its power, and constantly misuse changed its original context for the worse.

“Gimme Shelter” By The Rolling Stones

Some songs are popular with a bunch of different filmmakers, while others become a staple of certain authors who use it quite frequently. User GetToTheChopperNOW got specific when they commented “Rolling Stones ‘Gimme Shelter’ for instance. Seems like it’s in pretty much every Scorsese movie.”

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Though the claim is a bit verbose, director Martin Scorsese is known for reusing his favorite artists. Considering the fact that Scorsese has even made films about the band, The Rolling Stones are rarely omitted from the soundtracks of his films. “Gimme Shelter” is a unique case because its lyrics are so evocative, and it is tempting to overuse it.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” By John Denver

Even if it isn’t specifically a film about country music, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver has seen quite a bit of movie and TV airplay. User TheDudeWithNoName_ couldn’t escape the song, writing “‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver. Been hearing it everywhere for the last year. Even video games are playing it now.”

Country is a divisive genre, and only a few established standards are palatable to a larger audience. Therefore, John Denver’s smash hit fits the bill when a rural vibe is needed, without getting too deep into the country music sphere. Even though it is a universally beloved song, the frequent overuse has taken the shine off of it quite a bit in recent years.

“Bad To The Bone” By George Thorogood And The Destroyers

The T-800 fires a minigun in Terminator 2

Rock music can help imbue whatever scene it scores with a certain amount of raw power. User Omdren was less than impressed with a classic rock standard, writing “‘Bad to the Bone’ most of the time it is played in a movie for a character they are far from being bad.”

Before it became a campy song to use for parody, George Thorogood’s smash hit was also used appropriately in films like Christine. Where things went wrong was when it was used in Terminator 2, and though it worked well in that film, it was soon associated more with parody than anything else. As with most jokes, it was repeated far too often, and fans were tired of hearing the song in any context.

“Fortunate Son” By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Matthew Modine in character in Full Metal Jacket wearing an army uniform with Born to Kill written on the camouflage helmet

The Vietnam War was a controversial time in world history, and much of the media of the era has been linked to the conflict. User spicerldn had only one song in mind when speaking of overplayed music, simply commenting “‘Fortunate Son.'”

Creedence Clearwater Revival were one of the biggest bands of the Vietnam era, and their protest song “Fortunate Son” was one of the most visible examples of anti-war music. Because of that, it didn’t take long for it to become the go-to soundtrack for some of the best films about the war, and it soon became cliché. Though the song has lost none of its power over fifty years later, its usefulness in movies and TV has run its course.

“Chariots Of Fire” By Vangelis

Harold and Eric run on beach in Chariots of Fire

Most overused songs in movies and TV come from the pop realm, but “Chariots of Fire” was a rare example of film soundtrack that got a lot of play elsewhere. User Jeffersons_Mammoth had no trouble picking an overplayed song, saying “Easily the Chariots of Fire theme…most people don’t even know where it came from but just know it as a parody.”

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The film itself quickly faded from people’s minds, but Vangelis’ memorable theme became synonymous with any amazing athletic feat. Soon the instrumental song was mockingly used to underscore comedy films, and eventually, it was totally removed from its original context. Even without that, it often irks viewers who have heard it used too many times.

“September” By Earth, Wind & Fire

Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick in Trolls World Tour

Music doesn’t necessarily have to evoke higher meaning, and “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire is a perfect example of that. User NoImNotJC begrudged an overplayed song when they commented “I swear I’ve heard ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire in countless things in the past year.”

The disco classic has undeniable power, and the band is no stranger to having their music in films. However, “September” has qualities that lend itself to overuse. In the recent decade, viewers were hard pressed to find a children’s film that didn’t shoehorn in the song, and it got old quickly.

“London Calling” By The Clash

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Hollywood is known for painting people and places with broad strokes, and “London Calling” has become synonymous with the UK in films. User MovieMike007 didn’t appreciate the cliché of the song, saying “‘London Calling’ by The Clash. It has been so overused for introductory shots of London, England.”

One of the things that often irks viewers the most about overused songs is that they can be too on the nose, and “London Calling” is the prime example. Considering The Clash’s punk roots, using the song as a way to glorify the city is absurd and misses the point of the band entirely. On top of that, it’s simply exhausting to hear the same song again and again.

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