The Top 15 Uses of Songs in Media in 2016: Critic's List


One of the best things about watching other forms of media -- TV, film, even advertising -- as a music fan is getting to experience the ways that your relationships with your favorite songs can be adjusted by their use in various shows, movies and commercials. In the best cases, their deployment as soundtrack pieces can find meaning in them that you never knew existed, and which may have not even been there in the first place. It doesn't always work, but when it does, the results can be absolutely magical.

Here were our 15 favorite such uses of songs in 2016, which helped turn unexpected karaoke performances, lip-sync-like-nobody's-watching promo clips and show-stopping musical numbers into some of the most memorable moments in media this year.

8. Tears for Fears, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (Mr. Robot)

One of the most surreal moments of Mr. Robot's divisive second season -- no small distinction -- came at an extraordinarily unconvincing karaoke party attended by unwilling hacker and increasingly high-powered businesswoman Angela Moss. Her rendition of Tears for Fears' early-MTV classic, sung in a dolorous half-croon with gently plodding piano accompaniment, sounds more like a Nicole Dollanganger BandCamp cover than any empty-orchestra belting you've ever heard. But as impractical as the scene seemed, it made for an oddly affecting moment, with a choked-up Angela clearly relating to the song's confidently anxious lyrics: "Welcome to your life / There's no turning back." — A.U.