Pop Songs That Were Inspired by Movies

The tie-in single has been an important part of the music industry and the film industry since the early sound era. There are thousands, if not millions, of songs out there which were written for the soundtracks of movies. Less common are songs which weren’t written for movie soundtracks but were inspired by films. Here’s three pop songs that were inspired by movies.

Katy Perry performs at the Mercedes-Benz Arena | Photo by Stefan Hoederath/Redferns

‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry

Bonnie McKee and Katy Perry | Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

The title track from Katy Perry’s wildly successful sophomore album Teenage Dream is undoubtedly one of the most popular love songs of the 2010s. In some way, it’s fitting that the single was inspired by the greatest love story of all time, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet –  at least indirectly. When Katy Perry’s frequent collaborator, Bonnie McKee, started writing the song, she was inspired by many of the emotions she felt as a teenager, including the crush that she had on Romeo as played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. DiCaprio’s Shakespearean turn certainly worked if it was inspiring love songs nearly fifteen years after that movie was released.

‘Cola’ by Lana Del Rey

Harvey Weinstein, Justin Bieber and Lana Del Rey attend amfAR’s 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala | Photo by Dave M. Benett/amfAR14/WireImage

Lana Del Rey’s music and music videos feature many references to classic cinema, but it still might surprise fans to learn that her song “Cola” was inspired by Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. The song, which tells the tale of a starlet beginning a relationship with a much older man, was inspired by the subplot of Citizen Kane where Charles Foster Kane falls in love with and marries a singer while funding her career in the opera. While the song seemed fairly innocuous when it was first released, Lana later retired the song from her live shows.  This was because the song includes a passing reference to Harvey Weinstein and Lana did not want to be associated with him following the numerous criminal accusations against the producer. Lana felt that, in light of those accusations, retiring the song was the only moral thing to do. She also expressed sympathy for Weinstein’s accusers. 

 ‘Cool Girl’ by Tove Lo

Tove Lo | Photo by Timothy Hiatt/WireImage

Ask anyone who watched Gone Girl what they found most memorable about it, and there’s a good chance that they’ll mention the famous “cool girl” monologue. Rosamund Pike’s character, Amy Elliott Dunne, memorably discusses how men desire “cool girls” – women who will do whatever they want without asking for much in return. Amy resents how much she has had to change herself in order to please her husband. As a songwriter, Tove Lo thrives on writing about fractured relationships, so it made sense that she’d be interested in the film. While Gone Girl inspired the Tove Lo song “Cool Girl,” the track uses the phrase “cool girl” in a manner much different from the film. In the song, Tove Lo uses the term to describe a woman who is looking for a non-committal relationship with a man. While “Cool Girl” doesn’t have much to do with the plot of Gone Girl, both the song and the movie create a vivid sense of danger. Perhaps Tove Lo should get her own chance to play a femme fatale in a Hollywood movie.