Nirvana, Dick Dale and Metallica are among those whose older tracks were revived after their inclusion in smash hit films and television series.
Most music fans love an 80s or 90s track to begin with, but when a classic throwback song is revived some decades later in one of your favourite movies or television shows, it heightens the nostalgia tenfold. Whether they’re soundtracking the most climactic moments or parodied for a quick bit, reimagining archived songs for film and TV introduces new audiences to a treasure trove of music history.
In most cases, the appearance of their song in a popular movie or show results in a musician’s decades-late resurgence into the spotlight, with many artists seeing their first-ever chart appearances and massive streaming surges as a result. Spanning 90s classics from Nirvana to Aerosmith, and uber-successful titles like The Batman to Peaky Blinders, here are 10 throwback songs re-popularised after their use in films and television.
Depeche Mode’s Never Let Me Down Again — The Last of Us
Following its inclusion in the premiere episode of HBO’s The Last of Us earlier this month, Depeche Mode’s 1987 track Never Let Me Down Again enjoyed a threefold boost in streams. In the US, Spotify plays of the song rose from 26,000 on the day of The Last Of Us’ premiere to 83,000 the next day. In the zombified setting of The Last Of Us, which is based on the video game of the same name, 80s songs are a sign of impending doom.
Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody — Wayne’s World
While it was undeniably a hit upon its release in 1975, Queen’s rock-opera classic Bohemian Rhapsody received renewed attention almost two decades later, when it featured in the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World. The song had appeared on the Billboard charts when it was originally released, but enjoyed a peak at Number 2 when Mike Meyers and his castmates hilariously covered Bohemian Rhapsody during a now-infamous thrillride.
Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill — Stranger Things
It was almost impossible to escape Kate Bush’s 1985 song Running Up That Hill last year, thanks in no small part to Netflix’s flagship series, Stranger Things. Arriving at a pivotal moment in the fourth season, the atmospheric track no-doubt translated off-screen, subsequently rising to the top of the charts across the globe almost four decades after its original release. So ascendant was the song’s revival that Bush reportedly earned $2.3million in streaming royalties following her Stranger Things cameo.
Smash Mouth’s All Star – Shrek
Despite now being synonymous with everyone’s favourite ogre, Smash Mouth’s 1999 banger All Star initially wasn’t cleared for use in 2001’s Shrek. However, the band obliged after viewing an advanced screening of the Dreamworks animation, and consequently enjoyed their debut appearance on the Billboard charts. All Star — which featured on Smash Mouth’s album Astro Lounge — now ranks among the most streamed rock songs of all time.
Nirvana’s Something In The Way — The Batman
Who’s better equipped to usher in a song’s revival than the Caped Crusader himself? After appearing in the trailer for the Robert Pattinson-led iteration of The Batman (2022), Nirvana’s 1999 song Something In The Way saw a revived streaming boom, jumping from 880,000 to 1.6 million plays in the two days following the film’s premiere. The success of the resurgence is doubly impressive given that the track is considered a deep cut of the album Nevermind.
The Cramps’ Goo Goo Muck — Wednesday
Some four decades after it was first released as a cover by The Cramps, Goo Goo Muck earned what was its biggest bout of popularity thanks to Netflix’s smash hit series Wednesday. The band released the track — a cover of the 1962 original by Ronnie Cook and The Gaylads — in 1981, as part of their sophomore album Psychedelic Jungle. Following its appearance in the fourth episode as the soundtrack to a choreographed dance, the song was was revived with a 5000% surge in daily on-demand streams.
Metallica’s Master of Puppets — Stranger Things
Following on from the success of Bush’s earlier appearance in Stranger Things, Metallica’s Master of Puppets had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, its slot in the season four finale and key role in defeating the show’s villain gave the 1986 track plenty to work with, with streaming surges deservedly following suit. It shot to the upper echelons of Spotify’s rock playlists for the first time ever, and marked a moment of appreciation for Metallica. “We were beyond psyched for [Stranger Things] to not only include Master Of Puppets in the show, but to have such a pivotal scene built around it,” the band wrote on Instagram at the time.
Aerosmith’s Dream On — The Boys
The bloodthirst of Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys is nearly outdone by its soundtrack, which has featured everyone from Billy Joel to Rolling Stones and Enya. In what is perhaps one of the series’ most eye-popping moments, Aerosmith’s 1973 track Dream On plays while two superpowered villains engage in some truly bizarre sexcapades. Dream On received an additional 10.9 million on-demand streams in the days after the season two episode aired.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Red Right Hand — Peaky Blinders
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Let Love In single Red Right Hand has enjoyed a second, third and even fourth wind since its initial release in 1994. The now-signature Nick Cave track appeared heavily in the Scream film franchise, but the ball really got rolling in 2013, when it was revived as as the theme song for gang crime series Peaky Blinders. Since then, Red Right Hand has been covered by the likes of PJ Harvey and Snoop Dogg, with Cave admitting in 2019 that a lot of his fans “have discovered my music through Peaky Blinders.”
Dick Dale’s Misirlou — Pulp Fiction
Dick Dale‘s 1962 cover of Misirlou wouldn’t take off until 32 years later, when it appeared for just two minutes in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic Pulp Fiction. Dale’s surf-rock version of Misirlou — which received its first official release by Jan August in the 50s — soundtracked the opening scene in which Pumpkin and Honey Bunny rob a diner, and the track would go on to become just as notorious as its accompanying film. “Having Misirlou as your opening credit, it’s just so intense,” Tarantino said. “It just throws down a gauntlet that the movie now has to live up to.”