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A show/movie (music videos don't count) titled after a pre-existing song, i.e. not something written in conjunction with the show/movie. If it's not the song's real title, it's something one could Refrain from Assuming
Closely related to Literary Allusion Title
. See also Idiosyncratic Episode Naming
, of which this is a form (when applied to TV series episodes, naturally).
Examples can be divided into three categories:
Using the song (not necessarily as a Theme Tune):
Anime and Manga
- From the New World: Named after the title of Dvořák's Symphony No. 9. Might be passed off as coincidence if not for the frequent use of the "Goin' Home" theme from the symphony's 2nd Movement ("Largo") throughout the show.
- Watchmen's first and tenth chapters, "At Midnight, All the Agents..." and "Two Riders Were Approaching...," are titled after lyrics of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" and "All Along the Watchtower," which are quoted in the epigraphs (as is Elvis Costello's "The Comedians" in the second chapter, titled "Absent Friends.") In the movie both of these songs were actually used in the soundtrack (albeit only the Jimi Hendrix cover of "All Along the Watchtower" in the scene covering the event of the chapter; a version of "Desolation Row" by My Chemical Romance chapters plays on the credits).
- Across the Universe
- Anchors Aweigh
- Autumn in New York
- Brazil (the Terry Gilliam movie).
- Bad Boys
- Broadway Rhythm
- Blue Hawaii
- Blue Velvet
- Bright Lights, Big City
- Can't Buy Me Love
- Can't Hardly Wait (the Replacements song of the same name plays over the end credits).
- Dazed and Confused (the director tried to feature the Led Zeppelin song, but Robert Plant vetoed)
- Demolition Man (a song by The Police; Sting does a new version of it as the end-credits song).
- Detroit Rock City (Kiss is central to the plot, and appear singing the title song in the end)
- Down with Love, which incorporates Stock Footage of Judy Garland singing the title song
- Drive Me Crazy
- For Me and My Gal
- (Kenny Rogers as) The Gambler (the song was originally a hit for him)
- Girls Just Want to Have Fun (except they had to use a cover version rather than Cyndi Lauper's)
- Guantanamera (1995 Cuban film)
- Halls of Montezuma
- Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
- I'm Not There
- In The Bleak Midwinter (though it was retitled A Midwinter's Tale in the US)
- In the Mood for Love (As far as the original title is concerned.)
- In The Mood Not only using the Glenn Miller classic, but set in the time it was popular.
- It Takes Two
- I Walk the Line, a 1970 movie starring Gregory Peck titled after the Johnny Cash song.
- I Wanna Hold Your Hand (contracting the formal English in The Beatles' title)
- Jeepers Creepers
- Jersey Girl (twice)
- Johnny Be Good (sic; the song is titled "Johnny B. Goode")
- Jumpin' Jack Flash
- Just Like Heaven
- Lost Highway
- Lullaby of Broadway
- Meet Me in St. Louis had both songs newly written for the movie and period tunes. The former include "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Belonging to the latter group are "Under The Bamboo Tree" and the title song. "Skip to My Lou" straddles the line.
- Man on the Moon (The 1992 REM song about Andy Kaufman became the title for his Bio Pic in 1999. The band wrote the film's underscore and incorporated the song as a Leitmotif. They also wrote a new song for it, "The Great Beyond", that serves as a companion piece to the original tune.)
- French movie Ma Petite Entreprise.
- The Midnight Hour (Although the song's full title is "In The Midnight Hour".)
- The Mighty Quinn
- Murder by Numbers
- My Boyfriends Back
- My Girl
- Only The Lonely
- Pagan Love Song
- Paper Moon
- Peggy Sue Got Married
- Pretty in Pink
- Pretty Woman
- P.S. I Love You
- Silent Night
- Sixteen Candles (covered by The Stray Cats)
- So Close is named after the song "Close To You" by the Carpenters, even though the words "So Close" don't appear in it.
- Some Kind of Wonderful
- Something to Talk About
- Stand by Me
- Staying Alive
- Sweet Home Alabama (instead of the actual Lynyrd Skynyrd recording, you hear two cover versions in the film)
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game
- Take This Job And Shove It
- Taking Care of Business
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead went from Warren Zevon song to the title of a 1995 film. Then John Cale wrote a song about the film, which would have counted as an inversion if he hadn't shortened the title to just "Things."
- This Must Be The Place
- To the Shores of Tripoli
- Walking On Sunshine
- Interestingly the film's original Working Title was Holiday, which arguably makes more sense than the actual title.
- Walk the Line (Johnny Cash biopic - the song is "I Walk the Line")
- White Christmas
- Yellow Submarine was the only Beatles movie which was based on a Beatles song instead of having the song written for the movie, having first appeared in 1966 on the album Revolver.
- David Bowie's "Life On Mars" wasn't the Theme Tune to Life On Mars, but it did appear in a few significant moments.
- Likewise Ashes to Ashes, with the addition of the clown from Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" video who appears in the lead character's hallucinations.
- Life Goes On (although of course the song title is "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da").
- Even more confusingly, Empty Nest used the Billy Vera song "Life Goes On" as its theme.
- Heartbeat, British police drama set in the 60's. Named for the Nick Berry song that is also theme tune. Also, beat - police.
- What I Like About You
- One Fine Day
- As Time Goes By
- A Fine Romance
- Harper Valley P.T.A., TV movie and later series.
- Every episode of True Blood is named after a song which serves as a Literary Allusion Title to an episode's plot and are featured in the end credits of said episode.
- The Young Ones. The 1959 Cliff Richard tune was used as the opening theme.
- In the middle of Miami Vice's first season, former Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey released "Smuggler's Blues", a song about cocaine trafficking. The producers of the show immediately jumped on it, and not only titled the resultant episode "Smuggler's Blues", but they based the storyline on the lyrics of the song and cast Glenn Frey as Jimmy the Bush Pilot.
- Eureka episode "I'll Be Seeing You." The song is also used in several other episodes.
- Almost all Jukebox Musicals: Mamma Mia!, Rock of Ages, We Will Rock You etc.
- One might expect My Fair Lady not to include "London Bridge." Yet in the original production, its music was part of the Opening Ballet. In the recent revival produced by Cameron Mackintosh, it was actually sung in the middle of "Get Me To The Church On Time."
- The folk opera Down in the Valley by Kurt Weill and Arnold Sundgaard. All the narration is sung to the tune of "Down in the Valley." Four other American folk songs are also included.
- Sweet Adeline. At least one version of the show used the barbershop quartet favorite, as did the 1934 movie version, though at the time of the setting, it hadn't in fact been written yet.
Using a brand-new title song:
- The musical Of Thee I Sing.
- The musical Merrily We Roll Along had an original title song by Stephen Sondheim, though the title was really from the Kaufman and Hart play. Whether or not that play's incidental music included the traditional song is probably lost to history.
Song titles used without the song:
Anime and Manga
- Big Finish Doctor Who
- The Doctor Who Unbound drama Sympathy for the Devil is named after a Rolling Stones song.
- The Doctor Who Unbound drama Masters of War is named after a Bob Dylan song.
- The title of the Fifth Doctor drama 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men is a slight variant on a piece of classical music called "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland.
- Scott Pilgrim is named after a song by Plumtree.
- The Sandman has issues titled "Bad Moon Rising," "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and "Lullabies of Broadway."
- The Superman story "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?" based its title on "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?", a song written by Nick Lowe and recorded by Elvis Costello.
- The X-Men story "Days of Future Past" is a play on the Concept Album Days of Future Passed by The Moody Blues.
- Loads and loads of examples, but My Immortal is a fanfic that every troper should know about, and it's an example.
- American Pie
- Dazed and Confused (the Led Zeppelin song was meant to be on the soundtrack, but the band wouldn't clear it).
- Zeppelin are notoriously imposslible to get permission to use in films. The director's later film School of Rock is one of the few films to actually get the permission to get it.
- Fools Rush In
- Some Kind of Wonderful
- Velvet Goldmine would have used David Bowie's song of that title, but he didn't think much of the film—very loosely based on him and Iggy Pop—and refused to clear it.
- My Boyfriends Back
- Love Will Tear Us Apart by Yu Lik-wai (although not the original title)
- Paper Heart, an indie romantic comedy named after a 1983 New Wave song by Robert King. Its filmmakers nearly managed to get permission to use the actual song, but King got to them too late.
- All Tomorrow's Parties (idem)
- All That Jazz has the same title as a song from another musical by Bob Fosse. But it doesn't use that song.
- Boogie Nights was named after the Heatwave song, though it's not on the soundtrack.
- It's Always Fair Weather
- Arguably, Poppy Z. Brite's Exquisite Corpse, after the song by Bauhaus.
- Several chapters of John Weir's book The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket are titled after songs by Stephen Sondheim.
- When Gravity Fails (from the Bob Dylan song "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues") and its sequel, Fire in the Sun (from "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue")
- I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb, a novel named from/after the Spandau Ballet song "True".
- Diamond Dogs is titled after a David Bowie song (and album).
- Less Than Zero is titled after an Elvis Costello song; its sequel Imperial Bedrooms is an album title.
- Jill Churchill's Grace & Favor series:
- Anything Goes
- In the Still of the Night
- Someone to Watch Over Me
- Love for Sale
- It Had to Be You
- Who's Sorry Now
- Almost any individual episode of a TV show with a song title, because it doesn't pay to license a song for just one episode, particularly if it's done as a form of Idiosyncratic Episode Naming.
- Angel has various episodes titled after songs, e.g. "Shiny Happy People", "Over the Rainbow", "Not Fade Away"
- Degrassi The Next Generation uses (mostly) '80s songs for its episode titles. This changes in seasons 9 and on, as many episodes are named for songs from the 00s.
- Desperate Housewives titles its episodes after songs, mostly by Stephen Sondheim.
- Farscape episodes titled after songs include "Won't Get Fooled Again," "A Kiss Is But A Kiss" and "Dream a Little Dream."
- Grey's Anatomy also uses song titles for episodes, including the two-parter "It's The End of The World"/"... As We Know It."
- LOST used the titles "House of the Rising Sun" and "Born to Run" without the songs (though the lyrics of the former certainly would have echoed the episode.)
- One Tree Hill uses song titles/lyrics/album names as episode titles, as well as being named after a U2 song.
- Covert Affairs named all the Season One episodes (except the pilot) after Led Zeppelin songs, their Season Two episodes after REM songs, their Season Three episodes after David Bowie songs, and their Season Four episodes after songs by The Pixies.
- Cougar Town names most of their episodes after songs by Tom Petty. The only exceptions are "Pilot" and "Everything Man".
- Each of the four final seasons of That '70s Show had episodes titled after songs from a particular band per season (Led Zeppelin on S5, The Who on S6, Rolling Stones on S7 and Queen on S8).
- I Dream of Jeannie (the original Theme Tune was simply named "Jeannie", and the lyrics weren't used at all)
- Every episode of ALF was named for a song title.
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, titled after a Cole Porter song
- British sitcom September Song. The song in question was already being used by a rival broadcaster's May to December.
- Californication, although entirely unrelated to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
- The Supernatural episode "In My Time Of Dying" based on a gospel song covered by Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. Various other episodes use song-based titles as well (e.g. "Folsom Prison Blues", "Dream a Little Dream of Me", "I Believe the Children Are Our Future", "Good God Y'all", etc.)
- Veronica Mars episode "Like a Virgin" is titled after the Madonna song and album.
- Deep Purple, from an interbellum ballad that had been a hit for bandleader Artie Shaw
- Strangers in the Night, UFO album
- NWOBHM and early speed metal bands had a tendency to be named after a song by an iconic band. Examples include Chinatown and Black Rose (Thin Lizzy songs), Heavy Pettin' and Obsession (UFO albums), Exciter (Judas Priest song), Overkill (Motörhead song), and Machine Head (Deep Purple album).
- Bad Brains, after "Bad Brain" by The Ramones.
- Human Highway, Neil Young song.
- Powderfinger, also after a Neil Young song.
- Velocity Girl, Primal Scream song.
- The Canadian indie rock band Eric's Trip named themselves after the last song on side B of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation.
- Gigolo Aunts are named after Syd Barrett's "Gigolo Aunt".
- Radiohead, Talking Heads song (though the song is technically "Radio Head")
- Judas Priest took their name from the Bob Dylan song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest."
- Scottish hard rock band Nazareth took their name from "The Weight" by The Band.
- Dixie Chicks were named after the Little Feat song "Dixie Chicken".
- Rare "Titled After the Album" example: 1980s country duo Sweethearts of the Rodeo named themselves after The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, and even paid homage to said album with the cover of their Buffalo Zone album.
- The Rolling Stones took their name from Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone".
- Ladytron from the song of the same name on Roxy Music's first album
- A Certain Ratio were named after a line in ''Brian Eno's "Third Uncle".
- Death Cab for Cutie, after a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
- British folksinger John Wesley Harding, after the song and album by Bob Dylan.
- Cave In, after the Codeine song "Cave-In". They would eventually cover their namesake song as a bonus track to the album Perfect Pitch Black.
- Mayhem were named after the Venom song "Mayhem with Mercy".
- Enslaved take their name from an Immortal demo track, "Enslaved in Rot".
- Moonsorrow are named after the Celtic Frost song "Sorrows of the Moon".
- The A-Train series of railway sim games is titled after the jazz standard "Take The 'A' Train."
- Kagirinaki Tatakai, a 1983 game for the Sharp X1 published by Enix, has the same Japanese title as Led Zeppelin's song "The Battle of Evermore."
- Painkiller (from the Judas Priest song).
- Rock of Ages
- Many thread titles in Survival of the Fittest happen to be these, due to the storyline being written by a community of writers with differing tastes. If we were to list them all it would take a while.