Songs on Screen Week: ‘New Jack Hustler’ from ‘New Jack City’

Songs On Screen: All week Hitfix will be featuring tributes by writers to their favorite musical moments from TV and film.  Check out the full series here.

Last month when we did our Best Year in Film History series, I picked second and, as a result, I was able to select the correct answer: The best year in American cinematic history, at least over the last 50 years, is 1974 and any disagreements sadden and bore me.

With that undeclared, but indisputable, victory in my back pocket, I was able to happily let colleagues choose many of my personal favorites for our Songs on Screen battle. You won't hear me say anything negative about “Fight the Power” and its centrality to “Do the Right Thing” or the evocative pull of “Nobody Does It Better” (or a slew of other James Bond themes) or the timelessness of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Nor will I quibble with something like “Johnny B. Goode,” which wasn't written for “Back to the Future,” but was used in a way that was utterly indelible. 

As of when I made my own selection, there were plenty of great movie-based songs remaining, including what likely would have been my instinctive top draft pic, Hal David and Burt Bacharach's “Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head,” performed in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” by B.J. Thomas.

I know some people criticize the “Raindrops” sequence, an interlude featuring  Butch and Etta noodling around on a bike and the most ridiculous complaint I've often heard is a variation on the “It doesn't fit with the rest of the movie,” as if its incongruousness were somehow unintentional and George Roy Hill totally missed that he was sticking a gauzy, halcyon scene built around a contemporary pop song — between the female lead and the character who *isn't* her love interest — in the early part of an increasingly dark buddy dramedy and had no awareness of how jarring — gloriously jarring — it is. 

It's a scene I love, driven by a song I love in a movie that I can never see too frequently.

And if what I wanted to do was “win” this theme week, “Raindrops” would be my selection.

But if my goal was to talk about a movie soundtrack moment that had particular meaning to me without getting hung up on “bests,” I had two choices: