20 '90s Movies and the Songs That Remind You of Them

Nothing triggers nostalgia quite like a song from your favorite movie.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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You probably don't remember how to set up the quadratic equation, how long a senator's term is, or even where babies truly come from, but we can guarantee you know all the lyrics to three Smash Mouth songs. It's why karaoke is so popular and why '90s radio stations on Pandora are some of the most listened to: they make you feel better about your knowledge on one aspect of your life.

And you're not wrong, dude. Knowing these songs is awesome. If you're the DJ at a party and you throw on "Kiss Me," a girl is certainly going to take you home with her tonight to reenact a glasses-removal scene (and then probably a panty-removal). You'll never get laid for high SAT scores because there's no way to bring that up without looking like a tool. 

In honor of Above the Rim''s 20th anniversary—and that Warren G song "Regulate" that's now stuck in your head—these are all the best songs used in '90s movies. You're welcome. 

Written by Hope Schreiber (@HopeSchreiber)

RELATED: The 50 Best Movies of the '90s 
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"Say a Little Prayer" by Aretha Franklin in My Best Friends Wedding (1997)

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As if your best friend marrying someone else wasn't depressing enough, their weirdo family has to pubically humilate you by busting out in song. You better believe that if this ever went down in real life, we'd quickly excuse ourselves to the bathroom to crawl out a window. We will NOT be associated with a weird musical theater family.

"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio Dangerous Minds (1995)

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Back when Coolio resembled Pepe the King Prawn and before he took on ghetto gourmet in his cookbooks, "Cooking with Coolio," he wrote one of the most recognized rap songs in history, "Gangsta's Paradise." And, if you can get over White Bread—we mean, Michelle Pfeiffer—trying to reach underprivileged teens by wearing a leather jacket and teaching them karate, then check out Dangerous Minds.

"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison in Pretty Woman (1990)

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Ah, what song reminds us of the world's oldest profession—prostitution—more than "Oh, Pretty Woman"? Those sweet guitar rifts in the beginning just screams streetwalker to us now. Thanks, Julia Roberts. Mercy.

"Kiss From a Rose" by Seal in Batman Forever (1995)

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Sing "Kiss From a Rose" at innappropriate times. It's such a beautiful song and the movie is so ridiculous, so translate that to real life! Sing it loud while your girlfriend is trying to use the bathroom. Just stand right outside and belt it out. It's hilarious and it truly won't ruin your relationship, it will only make it stronger.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen in Wayne's World (1992)

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It is said that no one has to learn the lyrics of "Bohemian Rhapsody." We are all born with the innate knowledge of the song in its entirety. We know when to head-bang at the right time. We probably owe that all to Wayne's World, though. Party time.

"Regulate" by Warren G in Above the Rim (1994)

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"Regulate" was the song of the summer. It blasted on our boombox throughout the entire day until one of our friends stole the cassette for their own. Betrayal.

"Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield in Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Tarantino is so good at picking songs for iconic scenes in his movies that most people wouldn't even think of meshing certain visuals with his choice of audio. Case in point: "Son of a Preacher Man" playing during the introduction of Mia (Uma Thurman) in Pulp Fiction, as she peers at Vincent (John Travolta) through the intercom.

How important was Dusty Springfield's song? Tarantino said he wouldn't have even filmed the scene if he didn't get to use it. 

"Supermodel" by Jill Sobule in Clueless (1995)

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Besides the song being a trigger for those with eating disorders, "Supermodel" basically sums up Cher from Clueless for us. It's a sickly sweet pop song that's secretly really thoughtful.

"I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly in Space Jam (1996)

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We sincerely believe Space Jam to be the greatest triumph in film history. If we had to send one movie into space so aliens can learn about the human race, we'd suggest Space Jam, but we don't want the alien race to think that we believe them to be Looney Toon kidnappers who we must beat in an all-or-nothing basketball game. We don't want to start the first space war. But we digress.

What we really want to talk about is how inspiring "I Believe I Can Fly" was to us. We replayed it repeatedly on our Walkman while trying to practice three-pointers, just in case Bugs and Daffy needed our help next time.

"Can't Get Enough of You Baby" by Smash Mouth in Can't Hardly Wait (1998)

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Watching cheesy teen movies and singing along to Smash Mouth is how we passed a lot of time in the '90s. Please don't judge us—we only had dial-up and our mom had to use the phone.

"Lovefool" by The Cardigans in Romeo + Juliet (1996)

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The greatest love story ever told meets "Lovefool?" It made sense at the time, apparently. When Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) asks the priest to marry him and Juliet (Claire Danes), he's so overjoyed when he agrees that he runs out of the church to this pop song. "I can't care 'bout anything but you" is pretty true in the bard's famous play; R+J don't care about the six senseless deaths that pretty much took place over a weekend.

"Till I Hear it From You" by Gin Blossoms in Empire Records (1995)

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Empire Records was honestly our ideal life. A bunch of good looking middle-class teens working/hanging out in a record shop? Yo, where do we sign up for that job? There were like two customers a day. But to prove that these record shop employees were truly alternative, one girl had to shave her head and the soundtrack had to be laced with songs like "Till I Hear it From You."

"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion in Titanic (1997)

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If you still don't sing "My Heart Will Go On" while you and your significant other (or friend, or new acquaintance—really it doesn't matter) are standing at any ledge, you are a liar and we will not associate with you any longer. One out of three people still have this song on their iPod, which will make them quickly hit "next" if they're ever caught. They'll say it's a joke, but true love is never a joke.

"Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)

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Secretly, we still have this fantasy that we're going to pull the sick dance moves of Romy and Michele at our own high school reunion. Except we see what everyone is up to on Facebook and we still hate them, so we probably aren't going. Regardless, "Time After Time" captured a childlike joy in us that we still hope to maintain when we're trying to lie about our personal success to the people who bullied us in school.

"Stay" by Lisa Loeb in Reality Bites (1994)

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Man, Lisa Loeb was such a powerful force in the '90s that girls are still copping that hipster look. When "Stay" rolled at the end of Reality Bites, we felt like we truly got it, man. Fighting the man, love, rando hook-ups, VHS tapes—we wanted to live that life.

"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith in Armageddon (1998)

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How many first dances at weddings were set to this song? A lot of our cousins had shotgun weddings in the late '90s and it always seemed like Aerosmith was a dominant presence, along with crying aunts and drunk uncles. Actually, thinking about this song in Armageddon kind of creeps us out. Steven Tyler basically wrote the theme song for his daughter Liv Tyler's body to be roved by Ben Affleck's animal crackers.

"Kiss Me" Sixpence None the Richer in She's All That (1999)

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Sometimes, when we need a quick ego boost, we'll get all dolled up and pretty, put "Kiss Me" on our iPod, and slowly descend some staircases. It's been parodied for 15 years now, and we still think it's funny to hum this song whenever we take off our glasses.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston in Bodyguard (1992)

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If we were comfortable enough with ourselves to admit that we cry, we'd tell you that sometimes we have a very real emotional response to hearing "I Will Always Love You." Whitney Houston's vocals are unmatched and when we think about her character, Rachel, getting off the plane at the end of the movie to run into Kevin Costner's arm— we.... we... we're not crying. Our eyes are sweating. We were lifting weights earlier—shut up.

"Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" by Frankie Valli in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

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Heath Ledger singing "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" is easily one of the most romantic moments in teen romcom history—and it also gave us really high expectations of teenage romance. Sorry, nobody is going to jack the PA system just to sing to you in gym class. Honestly, most dudes have to be reminded by their mom that they have to buy a corsage for prom, so planning a grand romantic gesture just really isn't an 18-year-old's strong suit.

"Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve in Cruel Intentions (1999)

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Here's a spoiler alert: Sarah Michelle Gellar's character, Kathryn, takes a quick snort of cocaine to get herself pumped to give a fake emotional speech at her stepbrother's funeral. Meanwhile, we're getting progressively more and more pumped by the sweet, sweet sounds of violins in "Bittersweet Symphony." These final moments in the movie seemed so important to us, like Sebestan's (Ryan Phillippe) diary being spread to the rest of the class, Kathryn being exposed as a fraud, and her peers disappointingly shaking their heads at her. A quick rewatch of the scene proves that these feelings are all nostalgic. That ish is cheesy.

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