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  • One of the most prominent examples is "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan, written for the film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, one of Sam Peckinpah's lesser known works.
  • "Invincible" by Pat Benatar, which was in the movie The Legend of Billie Jean. Pat Benatar often makes fun of the film before going into the song in concerts.
  • Bryan Adams
    • "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?", which was featured in Don Juan De Marco.
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    • "Heaven" is one of his best-known songs. But does anyone remember A Night In Heaven, the movie it was made for?
    • "All for Love" (which he co-wrote), performed with Rod Stewart and Sting, became a #1 hit in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and several European countries. Raise your hand if you remember the 1993 film adaptation of The Three Musketeers that it came from. We're waiting...
  • "Theme From New York, New York" by Liza Minelli (Covered Up by Frank Sinatra), to the point most even omit the first two words. The movie was a famous flop that represented a career low-point for Martin Scorsese, but Sinatra's version of the song from 1979 became such a standard that some people believe it's both original to him and that he recorded it much earlier than he actually did (reaching #32 on the US pop charts in early 1980, it was Sinatra's final pop hit of his career). The song is not to be confused with a similarly named song that was featured in the film On the Town and parodied by The Simpsons.
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  • Garth Brooks has had his considerable star power carry two songs out from the movies he recorded them for: "Make You Feel My Love" (a Bob Dylan cover) from Hope Floats, and "When You Come Back to Me Again" from Frequency.
  • "Come and Get It", composed by Paul McCartney and performed by Badfinger for the soundtrack of the largely forgotten Peter Sellers/Ringo Starr vehicle The Magic Christian.
  • "Unchained Melody" was originally written by composer Alex North and lyricist Hy Zaret for the little known 1955 prison drama film Unchained. A decade later the Righteous Brothers recorded a cover which topped the charts. That version gained new popularity when it was used in the movie Ghost in 1990. Today, it's much more associated with Ghost than with Unchained.
  • "A Little Less Conversation" was an obscure Elvis Presley song from his film Live a Little, Love a Little. A remix by Junkie XL in the early 2000s turned it into a smash hit. It's the most dramatic example of this trope for him, but many Elvis songs qualify. He started making films not long after he was discovered and didn't stop making them until about 1970. All of those films were musicals, and most of them were forgettable—but his songs still charted for a while despite that. So there are likely some Elvis songs from, say, the early '60s or even late '50s that most of us know, that originally went with a musical, but which only serious Elvis or bad-film fans would recall which musical.
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  • AC/DC's "Who Made Who" still gets play on rock radio stations and is one of their more well-known songs, long after the movie for which it was recorded, Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive, has been more or less forgotten.
  • One of the first songs most people learn on the piano, "Heart And Soul", is from the short film A Song is Born (1938).
  • Jeanette MacDonald first sang "Beyond the Blue Horizon" in Monte Carlo (1930). It became a signature song for her, which she performed and recorded many times over the next couple of decades. Then it became a hit all over again when it was Covered Up by Lou Christie in 1974.
  • Much of the Cliff Richard-led musicals of the 1960s.
    • Summer Holiday was one of the most popular movies in the UK in 1963, however, much of its music became famous in its own right, such as "Summer Holiday", "Bachelor Boy", "The Next Time", and "Foot Tapper". Despite all of these songs being number one in the UK charts, only "Summer Holiday" has survived its fame, whereas the rest have faded into obscurity along with the film they came from.
    • The Young Ones had its title song "The Young Ones", which survived its fame, unlike the rest of the songs from the film, and the film itself. If the song is identified with any piece of media, it will probably be the pioneering and surreal 1980s sitcom of the same name - which used it as its theme song - than the movie it was originally from.
  • The 1988 romantic comedy The Woman in Red was a modest success, but Stevie Wonder's theme song "I Just Called to Say I Love You" became an Oscar-winning megahit.
    • Bonus points for the song only being featured in the ending credits. Fantastic misjudgment indeed.
  • Eric Clapton:
    • "Tears from Heaven" was recorded specifically for the Rush soundtrack, and has remained popular while the movie has rushed into obscurity.
    • The Eric Clapton song "Change the World" was a hit from from the soundtrack of the 1996 film Phenomenon. The song and film were both hits, but the song stuck around on adult contemporary radio long after the film faded away from public consciousness.
  • Dan Hartman's song "I Can Dream About You" was used in the the movie Streets of Fire, which was somewhat of a disappointment at the time of its release.
  • A Covered Up Breakaway Pop Hit: "You Light Up My Life" was originally written for the movie You Light Up My Life. Since the song's writer, Joe Brooks, also wrote and directed the movie, you could argue that the movie's sole purpose was to generate a Breakaway Pop Hit. But the version from the movie, by Kasey Cisyk, flopped (but still won the Academy Award for Best Song). Then a few months later Debby Boone covered it and it became the biggest hit of the '70s.
  • In a similar spirit, "That's What Friends Are For" was originally recorded by Rod Stewart for the Ron Howard-directed 1982 hit Night Shift, starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton, where it played over the closing credits. A couple years later Dionne Warwick was watching it on TV and decided to cover the song herself. Although Night Shift is still considered an early 80s comedy classic, very few people know its connection to the song; in fact, more than a few people have probably just thought that it was Rod Stewart covering a Dionne Warwick song.
  • The Glenn Miller Band's recording of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" was the first ever record to go gold. They appeared on screen as a Fake Band to introduce the song in Sun Valley Serenade, a not-so-legendary Sonja Henie vehicle. Nevertheless, the song had been written by songwriters under contract to the recording studio.
  • For the next Sonja Henie movie, Iceland, the same songwriters wrote "There Will Never Be Another You".
  • "Time for Miracles," a song by Adam Lambert which was used in the movie 2012 and whose music video heavily references the film.
  • "Gangsta's Paradise"—which Sampled Up "Pastime's Paradise" by Stevie Wonder—was an inescapable, insanely popular (if uncharacteristic) crossover hit for Coolio, while the 1995 film Dangerous Minds has largely faded from public memory.
  • The song "White Christmas" is far more well known than the movie it first appeared in, which was Holiday Inn. It also named the hotel chain, which is also better-known than the movie. (Breakaway Defictionalization?) Then again, Holiday Inn is not so much "obscure" as just old. It stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire doing what they respectively do best (singing and dancing), and your grandparents (or great-grandparents) no doubt remember it fondly. It's also shown in most markets at least once a year (around Christmastime, naturally).
  • Casino Royale (1967)
    • Nearly 50 years later, Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love" still gets airplay on light rock stations, while Royale wallows in well deserved obscurity, known primarily only by Bond fanatics.
    • The instrumental theme from the movie was a modest hit for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (#27 on the Billboard Hot 100; #1 on the "Easy Listening" charts) and probably is better known today than the movie itself is.
  • "When I Fall In Love (It Will Be Forever)" was originally from the 1952 movie One Minute To Zero. Like Ghost and "Unchained Melody", "Love" is now better associated with the 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle starring Tom Hanks.
  • From the same era, the original standby "Mona Lisa" comes from - and was never sung or played completely through in - a minor action flick called Captain Carey, USA.
  • Alice in Chains
    • "Would?" was originally released with the movie Singles before it appeared on their album Dirt. The movie is fine, but the song is one of their most famous and even ranked at #89 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs of All-Time. Singles is a great example of this trope, because the soundtrack album was and remains more popular than the movie itself! It featured bands such as Soundgarden and Pearl Jam at a time when grunge music was growing in popularity.
    • Similarly, more people cared about their song "What The Hell Have I" than the movie it was attached to, Last Action Hero for years after its release before the film began to pick up a following. Now no one cares about the song.
  • "Happy Days are Here Again" was first featured in an early MGM musical called Chasing Rainbows. Later, in 1932, the song became associated with FDR's presidential campaign.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
    • Their cover of Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster" was recorded hastily for the Beavis And Butthead Do America soundtrack and became a hit single. The band did mot capitalize on this and have never done it live.
    • "Soul to Squeeze," a Blood Sugar Sex Magik outtake that was previously released as B-Side to "Give It Away," was contributed to the Coneheads soundtrack and became a hit, being played live and it later appeared on their Greatest Hits Album.
  • Neptune's Daughter:
    • "Baby, It's Cold Outside," which had in fact been written five years before the movie came out as a holiday song, and not for the movie, which was set in southern California.
    • "On a Slow Boat to China" would count as a Breakaway Pop Hit from the same movie if it wasn't a Cut Song.
  • Phil Collins:
    • "Against All Odds" still gets a fair amount of airplay on '80s radio stations, but the movie of the same title is pretty much forgotten.
    • "Two Hearts" and "Groovy Kind of Love" are two of his best known songs. But does anybody remember the 1988 film Buster? Both songs were from the soundtrack for the film, a Non-Actor Vehicle for Collins, which received mixed reviews and underperformed at the box-office. ("Groovy Kind of Love" had been a #2 hit 20 years earlier for the Mindbenders, but it wasn't Covered Up by Collins until the time the movie was made.)
    • "Separate Lives," from the now mostly forgotten and very strange film White Nights — which also spawned Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me."
      • Though White Nights has niche appeal for dance fans who know it because of Mikhail Baryshnikov's and/or Gregory Hines's starring roles in the film, or Helen Mirren super fans who'll recognize this as one of her breakout films. Still, the Lionel Richie mega hit "Say You, Say Me" is unarguably far more well known than the film from which it originated.
  • Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" from Hatari! is a rare instrumental example of the Breakaway Pop Hit.
  • "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" from The Forest Rangers.
  • Burl Ives:
    • "Ugly Bug Ball" comes from the Disney flop Summer Magic.
    • His most beloved song might be his cover of the folk song, "Lavender Blue", a song that was revived by Cinderella (2015). The tune was originally sung in another Disney film, So Dear to My Heart, which only a very few people, mostly hardcore Disney fans and animated historians, are even aware of.
  • David Bowie examples:
    • "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)". The name of the song is virtually the only giveaway that it was made for a movie (the 1982 remake of Cat People) — and not Inglourious Basterds! This case was "helped" by the fact that he re-recorded it with a different, poppier arrangement for his album Let's Dance.
    • His Title Theme Tune for Absolute Beginners went to #2 on the UK charts, making it one of his bigger hits in The '80s. But the movie — which he had a One-Scene Wonder role in — was barely released beyond its home country and was briefly notorious as a flop big enough to be a Creator Killer for its studio.
  • "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)" from The Sky's the Limit.
  • In 1998, two hit singles - "Uninvited" by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette and "Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls - were written for and first appeared on the soundtrack of City of Angels, the widely derided Foreign Remake of the acclaimed German film Wings of Desire. Another song, "Angel" (sometimes mistakenly called "In the Arms of the Angel") by another Canadian Sarah MacLachlan, was initially released as an album-only track before it was included on the City Of Angels soundtrack, and it too became a hit from there.
  • "Puttin' on the Ritz" was originally sung by Harry Richman in an early movie musical of the same title. The familiar lyrics, however, were first sung by Fred Astaire in Blue Skies. (And there are probably viewers of younger generations who only know the song at all via Young Frankenstein and/or Taco's cover version in The '80s.)
  • "The More I See You" from Diamond Horseshoe.
  • "You Make Me Feel So Young" from Three Little Girls in Blue.
  • The pop standard "More" originated as the theme from the Italian Shockumentary Mondo Cane. In an interesting inversion of Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics, the original song was an instrumental.
  • "I Remember You" and "Tangerine" from The Fleet's In.
  • Earth, Wind & Fire did a fine, lively cover of The Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" that charted well. Aerosmith also has a pretty popular version of "Come Together." You could hardly believe that both were spawned from the turgid, Bee Gees-heavy musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
  • The song "The Happening" was a number 1 hit for The Supremes and became popular on oldies stations. The film The Happening (no, not that one), has sank into almost complete obscurity; it's generally remembered only for being one of Anthony Quinn's worst roles.
  • A rare example of an entire album falling victim to this trope; Stevie Wonder's Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants is well remembered for being one of the first New Age albums and for the polarized reaction it got from fans. However, how many people have actually seen The Secret Life of Plants? It's an odd little documentary (the book, a history of the scientific — or not — study of if and how plants are aware of their environment, is much better known) that it was made as the soundtrack for.
  • "I Finally Found Someone" by Bryan Adams and Barbra Streisand is an Award-Bait Song from The Mirror Has Two Faces, which she also produced, directed and starred in.
  • "Tip-Toe Thru' The Tulips With Me" comes from The Gold Diggers of Broadway, an early movie musical which is mostly lost. Standard Snippet "The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re in the Money)" comes from the 1933 loose remake Gold Diggers of 1933, a "culturally significant" work that sits at the lower extremes of Mainstream Obscurity.
  • The song "Georgy Girl," which was a number two hit for The Seekers (and co-written by The Narrator), came from a not-so-remembered (at least in the US) film starring Lynn Redgrave.
  • "High Hopes (Rubber Tree Plant)" came from an obscure late-period Frank Capra movie starring Frank Sinatra, A Hole in the Head.
  • Yet another Covered Up example: "Mah Na Mah Na", which nowadays is associated with The Muppets, was originally from an Italian pseudodocumentary/exploitation film called Sweden, Heaven or Hell. Just about every cover/parody of it nowadays is based on the Muppets version as opposed to Piero Umilani's original (CAKE's cover, from the various artists' CD For The Kids, being the most well-known exception).
  • "That Old Black Magic" from Star Spangled Rhythm.
  • Donna Summer's "Last Dance," which still gets airplay on oldies radio stations, won an Oscar for Best Song after it appeared in the disco-themed Thank God It's Friday, which fell into obscurity once the disco craze died down.
  • Vangelis got a hit with "Conquest of Paradise" for Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise. (He'd had an earlier hit with the theme music for Chariots of Fire, but that doesn't qualify—the movie is remembered, and everyone associates that melody with the movie and with running.)
  • "Am I Blue?" was introduced by Ethel Waters in the 1929 movie musical On with the Show! Younger audiences will probably know it from either Sita Sings the Blues or the Batman version on Justice League Unlimited.
  • "Blues in the Night" (aka "My Mama Dun Tol' Me, When I Wuz in Knee-Pants") and "This Time the Dream's on Me" were originally written for Blues in the Night, an obscure movie musical made in 1941 and starring future director Elia Kazan.
  • Evanescence got their breakout hit "Bring Me To Life" on the soundtrack of the utterly-forgettable Daredevil movie.
  • For great truth, the Space Jam soundtrack makes the cut. R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" is today largely assumed by younger basketball fans to have been written to celebrate Michael Jordan's career. Likewise, a lot of people like Seal's cover version of "Fly Like an Eagle" as well as Monica's "For You, I Will", a surprisingly actually heartwarming song written by the otherwise not-so-well-liked Diane Warren. Meanwhile, the movie is remembered for being divisive. Once again, music videos never forget: Bugs Bunny has a cameo in each of them ("Fly Like An Eagle" is itself a Video Full of Film Clips).
  • Pink Floyd
    • The first song of theirs that got any sort of airplay on US pop radio was the jangly "Free Four". With the exception of die-hard Floyd fans and fans of French filmmaker Barbet Schroeder, no one has seen La Vallee, the obscure French hippie film that the song is from the soundtrack of. The soundtrack itself (Obscured by Clouds, which doubled as the band's seventh studio album) is similarly more well known than La Vallee.
    • The band's 1969 third album, Soundtrack from the Film "More" is similarly more well known than the film More (another French hippie film by Barbet Schroeder). In fact, the film wasn't released in the United States and the album was just known as More upon release.
  • The film Gothika was successful upon release. But it is nowhere near as famous (well, maybe blatant is a better word here) as the song recorded for the film: Limp Bizkit's cover of "Behind Blue Eyes".
  • Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow's cover of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" was a major Adult Contemporary radio hit in 2000, and remained a radio staple long after the movie the cover was from, Duets, bombed at the box office.
  • Although the fact that the song is called "Going Home: Theme from Local Hero" is a good giveaway that it's a theme from something, it's arguable that more people have heard and can recognize the iconic theme by Mark Knopfler than have actually seen the movie.
  • "Touched by the Hand of God" by New Order from Salvation!. The song isn't one of their bigger hits, but because of its video - which was directed by Kathryn Bigelow and features the band dressed up as a hair metal group - its much better known than the movie it came from.
  • "One Tin Soldier" as recorded by Coven on the soundtrack of Billy Jack, which would also prove to be a Black Sheep Hit for what was otherwise a Satanic hard rock band. Though the song was originally recorded two years earlier by The Original Caste.
  • At the height of his career, Chuck Mangione won a Grammy Award for his soundtrack to a little-known movie called Children of Sanchez.
  • In one of the most prominent examples of this trope, Boyz II Men performed "End of the Road" for the 1992 romantic comedy Boomerang. While Boomerang made back its budget, it is not particularly remembered or acclaimed, while "End of the Road" is the highest selling Motown single of all time.
  • Legendary R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire broke into the top 40 with the album That's the Way of the World. Most people don't know that it's actually a soundtrack for a movie of the same name.
  • The Kelly Clarkson song "Breakaway" was first part of the soundtrack for the 2004 Disney film The Princess Diaries II. It slowly peaked the charts and became her biggest hit since "Miss Independent". It also prompted her record company to title her second album Breakaway when it was released later in the year.
  • "I've Got You Under My Skin" written by Cole Porter was first heard in Born To Dance, an MGM musical starring Eleanor Powell. "Easy To Love" was introduced in the same movie, but since 1987 it's more likely to be heard in revivals of Anything Goes, which was in fact the show for which Cole Porter originally wrote it.
  • Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street" became popular for younger viewers when it was played in the opening credits of Jackie Brown. However it was originally the title song to an early 70s crime drama of the same name, starring Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Quinn.
  • "No More Lonely Nights", a big post-Beatles, post-Wings hit for Paul McCartney, was first recorded as part of the soundtrack for his 1984 movie Give My Regards To Broad Street, which was a critical and commercial flop.
  • "Hooray For Hollywood" came from a musical called Hollywood Hotel. The movie's not very well known now but it does feature a great performance of "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman's band.
  • Other than featuring the late Tupac Shakur, the film Above The Rim is mostly remembered for the hit songs Regulate by Nate Dogg and Warren G and Anything by SWV and the Wu-Tang Clan.
  • Batman
    • "Foolish Games" by Jewel was released as the third single from the Batman & Robin soundtrack, months after the film itself had been laughed out of theaters, and eventually became the second-best selling single of 1997 in the United States. Sure, it originally appeared on her mega-hit album Pieces of You, but it wasn't slated to be a single until it was to be included on the Batman and Robin soundtrack two years after Pieces of You was released.
    • Batman Forever, the Batman film before Batman and Robin, also has a Breakaway Pop Hit, U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me". Batman Forever itself has been largely forgotten for not being as good as the Burton films that preceded it, or as bad as the next movie. Batman Forever's other big soundtrack hit, "Kiss From A Rose", however is not an example of this trope: it was already a minor hit before it was included on the soundtrack (and not an obscure album track that initially had no hopes of being issued as a single, like the aforementioned "Foolish Games"). Both videos have Batman in them (the former is an Animated Music Video with U2 performing in Gotham, the latter has Seal singing next to the Batsignal).
  • It's probable that more people are familiar with Neil Diamond's song "America" than the movie it was originally from, his 1980 Non-Actor Vehicle remake of The Jazz Singer. This trope also applies to two other Diamond songs, "Hello Again" and "Love on the Rocks", both of which also originated in this film.
  • The Irving Berlin standard "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" was introduced by Dick Powell and Alice Faye in the movie musical On The Avenue (1937).
  • "Teenage Dirtbag" by nerd-rock band Wheatus was a Top 5 hit in the UK and on American alternative radio. The song originally appeared on the soundtrack to the film Loser, which was a box office failure.
  • "FM (No Static At All)" by Steely Dan is a fondly remembered single released while the band was promoting their best-selling album, Aja. The film it was written for, FM is now obscure and largely only remembered for the Steely Dan song written for it.
  • "Charmaine" was originally theme music for the 1926 silent movie What Price Glory?
  • "That Old Feeling" from Walter Wanger's Vogues of 1938.
  • Digital Underground's "Same Song", from Dan Aykroyd's comedy Nothing but Trouble. The movie was acclaimed by critics and was a box office flop, but the song was a hit.
  • "'Til I Hear It From You" by Gin Blossoms was one of the band's biggest hits. It originally appeared on the soundtrack to the commercial flop Empire Records. Another song from the soundtrack, "A Girl Like You" by Edwyn Collins gained success in the United States after appearing on the album's soundtrack, but its not an example of this trope, because it was already a hit in his native UK the year before the movie was released.
  • Green Day's "J.A.R." was originally featured on the soundtrack for the movie Angus. The film didn't do too well at the box office, but the song was a hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and appearing on their greatest hits album.
  • The Cole Porter song "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" was originally from Something to Shout About, a 1943 movie musical starring Don Ameche and Janet Blair.
  • "Cocktails For Two" from Murder at the Vanities.
  • "Pennies From Heaven" from the 1936 Bing Crosby movie of that name. (The 1981 movie Pennies from Heaven with Steve Martin is not related aside from the title song.)
  • The Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour was a critical and commercial failure in the UK, and only gained popularity as a Cult Classic years later in the United States. The accompanying soundtrack album was a number 1 smash hit from the get-go.
  • Meet Me in St. Louis
    • Though this 1942 Judy Garland vehicle can hardly be considered a flop, one of the songs from it, the holiday classic "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", a song written for the movie, has definitely gained a life of its own beyond the movie it came from.
    • The movie also has "The Trolley Song" ("Clang, clang, clang went the trolley...") which is known by a lot of people who have never seen the movie.
  • The 1946 Disney live-action/animated film Song of the South (based on the Reconstruction-era Uncle Remus stories) has never been released on DVD, due to certain scenes in the film being... problematic when viewed today. As a result, not many people could identify it as the source of "Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah", even though it won the Oscar for Best Song.
  • X Japan's "I.V." remains a permanent fixture in their live set long after Saw IV has faded from memory.
  • Chicago's 1982 hit "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" went to Number One on the Billboard singles charts. Less well remembered is the film from which it came, Summer Lovers.
  • "The One and Only" may have been UK teen idol Chesney Hawkes only hit, but he was briefly massive, and the song still enjoys major nostalgic popularity today. Yet not even the fact that Hawkes himself starred in it seemed to help Buddy's Song (the film the song came from), which was barely known at the time and is all but forgotten nowadays.
  • The 1998 American film adaptation of Godzilla has a few: the Grammy-winning cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" by The Wallflowers, Puff Daddy's Led Zeppelin-inspired "Come with Me", and Jamiroquai's only #1 in the UK, "Deeper Underground". The only connections to the film are Godzilla's scream in "Come with Me", and Zilla turning up in all three videos.
  • Sarah McLachlan's adult contemporary hit "I Will Remember You" came from the pioneering (but since forgotten) independent film The Brothers McMullen.
  • Michael Jackson's "Ben" is a heartfelt ballad written about...the killer rat of 1973's Ben. The remake Willard reminds viewers of the song's origins by using it twice — using the original version within the film, and then having lead Crispin Glover sing it over the end credits!
  • Almost no one remembers the 1959 movie A Summer Place. Almost everyone can recognize the theme song by Percy Faith's orchestra, which spent nine weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 to become the number one song of 1960, as well as the Record of the Year at the 1961 Grammy Awards. And that wasn't even the original version of the theme, nor the original main title song.
  • Olivia Newton-John's Xanadu barely broke even at the box office, and recieved rather negative critical reception, but the soundtrack album was certified Double Platinum and five songs charted on the Top 20: "Magic", "Xanadu", "All Over The World", "I'm Alive", and "Suddenly".
  • Lovers and Other Strangers is only known today due to the Carpenters' cover of "For All We Know".
  • Buck Privates was the Star-Making Role for Abbott and Costello in the movies, but only their committed fans are likely to recall it. It is also the movie in which the Andrews Sisters introduced "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," one of the iconic songs of the era.
  • Vision Quest is better known for having two hit singles off its soundtrack, Madonna's "Crazy for You" and Journey's "Only the Young".
  • "Cavatina" from The Deer Hunter (1978) is a slightly convoluted example, made famous by a film, but not the one it was originally written for. Composer Stanley Myers wrote it for The Walking Stick, an obscure 1970 film, and basically bought back the rights while working on The Deer Hunter so he could reuse it there. note 
  • Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakey's "Together in Electric Dreams", from the obscure film Electric Dreams.
  • Madonna's 1990 hit song "Vogue" appeared on the Dick Tracy soundtrack, and consequently the Dick Tracy-inspired tie-in Concept Album entitled I'm Breathless.
  • Faith Hill's "Where Are You, Christmas?", from the soundtrack to the 2000 live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas! movie.
  • Frank Sinatra originally sang "Time After Time"note  in the 1947 movie musical It Happened in Brooklyn.
  • Enrique Iglesias' "Bailamos", a icon of Latin and dance radio stations, was originally written for the Will Smith vehicle Wild Wild West. It originally had a western-themed video, but when the movie underperformed, a new one was shot set in a modern dance club.
  • Remember Judas Priest's thrilling speed-metal cover of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode"? Of course you do. Remember the 1988 Anthony Michael Hall movie that version was originally in? Didn't think so.
  • "Young, Wild and Free" was a hit in 2012 for Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Bruno Mars. The film it was recorded for, Mac and Devin Go to High School, limped to a direct to DVD release and was immediately forgotten. This is despite the fact that Snoop and Wiz rap the song in character as their characters from Mac and Devin.
  • "Jeepers Creepers" originated in the 1938 film Going Places, a film that isn't quite as popular as the song.
  • You all know Dean Martin's "That's Amore", repopularized by the 1987 film Moonstruck. Not so many of you know its original film, The Caddy (1953).
  • "Forever", by Drake featuring Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Eminem, was originally made for a 2009 documentary about LeBron James and other basketball players called More than a Game.
  • Several examples that end up in Singin' in the Rain fit into their original films:
    • "All I Do Is Dream of You" from Sadie McKee (1934).
    • "Beautiful Girl" from the Bing Crosby film Going Hollywood (1933).
    • "Should I?" from 1930's Lord Byron of Broadway.
    • "Would You?" from 1936's San Francisco, which also had a hit with the title song.
    • The title track from The Hollywood Revue of 1929.
  • The ending song from The Rose is more familiar to anyone who's been to karaoke or an audition than the film is. If Beaches's "The Wind Beneath My Wings" is any indication, Bette Midler can do this to a song.
  • "Love (Can Make You Happy)" by Mercy was a million-selling hit and still gets some airplay on oldies radio stations. Fireball Jungle, the movie it was written for, on the other hand...
  • "Why", performed by Carly Simon for the film soundtrack Soup for One. Chic's title song may qualify too, by ideal of being Sampled Up on Modjo's "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)".
  • The song "Keep Holding On" is one of Avril Lavigne's lesser-known songs, but it was still a hit when it was first released. Meanwhile, the 2006 film Eragon, the film it was written for, flopped critically and financially, taking several careers with it.
  • The 1988 film Cocktail is one of the less memorable films of Tom Cruise, but it spawned two #1 hits: "Don't Worry Be Happy" for Bobby McFerrin and "Kokomo" for The Beach Boys.
  • The 1993 movie version of Super Mario Bros. is more memorable as an object lesson on how not to adapt a property for the big screen than anything else, but it did manage to spawn a chart-topping hit in "Almost Unreal" by Roxette. Though perhaps appropriately enough, Roxette treats the song with the same attitude that many of the actors had for the movie.
  • The theme songs for James Bond movies. The Roger Moore era in particular is often seen as a "golden age" for Bond movie theme songs thanks to hits like Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die", Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" (from The Spy Who Loved Me), Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only", and Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill", despite the Moore-era films themselves often being remembered as a Dork Age among Bond fans. Bond themes continued to be hits after Moore, but seeing as Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig's films have been much better received, they don't quite fall under this trope.
    • An interesting case in this regard is "If You Asked Me To" by Patti LaBelle, which was originally written as the credits song for Licence to Kill. It became a much bigger hit a few years later when it was Covered Up by Céline Dion, becoming one of her first English-language hits.
  • "Ringo no Uta" (Apple Song) from Soyokaze, one of the first films released in Japan after the end of World War II.
  • Keith Urban's "For You", from the soundtrack to Act of Valor.
  • "Rainbow Connection" zig-zags this a bit. While many are aware of the movie it came from, the song has become a modern standard.
  • Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora's song "When the Rain Begins to Fall" was a popular MTV hit. Not many know about the film it came from, the little-seen sci-fi comedy Voyage of the Rock Aliens.
  • Issac Hayes' Shaft theme is very well-known and commonly quoted, however few have honestly seen the film.
  • "Thunderbirds Are Go" by Busted qualifies, having become a pop hit in the UK after the 2004 film Thunderbirds movie faded out of public consciousness and even winning a Brit award.
  • In 2009, "The Climb" is one of Miley Cyrus' most well-known songs, but how many people remember that it was from Hannah Montana: The Movie?
  • George Strait's soundtrack for Pure Country, his only acting role to date, produced two #1 hits in "Heartland" and "I Cross My Heart". The movie has largely been forgotten as a Cliché Storm, but those two songs, particularly the latter, remain among his most popular.
  • Girl group Atomic Kitten recorded a cover of The Bangles' "Eternal Flame" for a forgettable British comedy film called The Parole Officer - which is only remembered these days for being Steve Coogan's film debut (and it's an Old Shame for him). The song was a Number 1 in the UK and achieved high chart positions around Europe. It became one of their most recognizable songs and would frequently be requested at all of their concerts.
  • The Jem and the Holograms movie was a blatant Box Office Bomb, earning just $2 million worldwide on a $5 million budget. However the song "Youngblood" fared much better, enjoying lots of downloads from iTunes and numerous covers on YouTube. Although the movie is despised by fans of the original cartoon, mostly for its drastically other direction from the source material, "Youngblood" seems to be about the only thing that gets praise.
  • Love Spit Love's cover of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" is most recognizable as the theme song for the TV show Charmed. However it was actually recorded for a 1996 film called The Craft - which provided inspiration for Charmed. Hardly anyone knows the song was recorded specifically for the movie.
  • The Last American Hero is an obscure Jeff Bridges film, but it spawned "I Got a Name", which was one of the last hits for Jim Croce. Younger audiences will associate it with Django Unchained instead.
  • P!nk's "Just Like Fire" from the 2016 Disney film Alice Through the Looking Glass. The song became a smash hit, because it was her first new release in nearly four years. Meanwhile, interest in the forerunner film was destroyed by the domestic abuse case involving Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
  • "I Fall In Love Too Easily" from Anchors Aweigh.
  • UB40's cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love" was a huge hit (#1 for 7 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100) and is still played today, but it's been forgotten that the cover originated from the movie Sliver.
  • The Proclaimers originally released the song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" in 1988, but it didn't become a hit until it was featured in the film Benny & Joon five years later. Today, the song is more well-known than the film.
  • "I Will Wait For You" is now universally associated with Futurama, but few are aware that it originated in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
  • Wonder Boys was a box office disappointment despite critical acclaim and awards buzz, and is only now remembered for Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed", which won him the Academy Award for Best Song and has been a staple of his concert setlists for over a decade.
  • Aaliyah:
    • Romeo Must Die was a Sleeper Hit when it came out, grossing $91 million worldwide. But the film has mostly been forgotten since. However Aaliyah's single "Try Again" was one of several songs she contributed to the soundtrack, and it became an even bigger hit than the movie - topping the Billboard 100 through airplay alone. These days it's remembered as her Signature Song, and fans might be surprised to discover it was recorded specifically to tie in with the movie.
    • "Are You That Somebody?" was made for the soundtrack of the 1998 version of Dr. Dolittle starring Eddie Murphy. It was considered one of the greatest songs of The '90s by both Rolling Stone and Spin magazine. While Dr. Dolittle was a box-office success, most people wouldn't realize that that song is from that movie.
    • An inversion comes with a pop version she did of "Journey to the Past" from Anastasia. Despite performing it at the Oscars, it's considered one of her lesser known songs. The actual in-movie version (by Liz Callaway) has gone through the Popularity Polynomial and was even named "The 'Let It Go' of the 90s".
  • American Gigolo isn't a completely forgotten film, and it has been credited as a successful vehicle for both Richard Gere and Giorgio Armani, but it has largely faded from the public consciousness. This is not true of the film's main theme, Blondie's "Call Me", one of their most recognizable songs and the biggest US hit of 1980.
  • If the forgettable 1999 crime comedy Desert Blue is remembered for anything today, it's because of its soundtrack, which included "The Frug", the debut single from Rilo Kiley. The song's official music video even includes clips from the movie, but the film has become so obscure, it's left many Rilo Kiley fans scratching their heads as to why Casey Affleck (it was one of his first lead roles) and Christina Ricci are in it.
  • The Greatest, a 1977 biopic of Muhammad Ali, is now best known for George Benson's theme for it: "The Greatest Love of All", which later became Covered Up by Whitney Houston.
  • Extremely popular at the time of its release, nowadays Love Story is not so much forgotten as disparaged — except for the instrumental theme composed by Francis Lai (subsequently covered as a song "Where Do I Begin?"). He won an Oscar for it.
  • Averted with two songs written for Harold and Maude by Cat Stevens: "Don't Be Shy" and "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out." They were never released as singles and didn't appear on an album until over a decade after the movie came out.
  • Never on Sunday, a 1961 Greek romantic comedy, mostly survives in the public consciousness thanks to its bouzouki theme song of the same name, which saw a lot of covers in the 1960's, most notably by The Chordettes (also known for "Mr. Sandman" and "Lollipop"), whose version was their last major hit.
  • New Edition released the EP Christmas All Over the World at the end of 1985; the title track can still be heard at shopping malls and otherwise come the holiday season. But do fans realize that song is a Cover Version of the Award-Bait Song from the same year's Santa Claus: The Movie? Also counts as Covered Up because their version is far easier to track down than Sheena Easton's original, as the movie's soundtrack has never had a CD or digital release as of 2017 (though Easton's version has appeared on at least one Greatest Hits Album by her).
  • Soviet-era black-and-white Russian-language comedies not being one of the world's more popular movie genres, it is not entirely surprising that the 1934 film Lieutenant Kijé has fallen into obscurity. It hasn't stopped "Troika" from becoming a breakout hit and Standard Snippet.
  • "Through The Eyes Of Love", performed by Melissa Manchester, was the theme for an ice-skating movie called Ice Castles. The song went on to become nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and is often cited as one of Manchester's most well-known tunes, but outside of a direct-to-DVD remake in 2010 by the original director, Ice Castles has fallen into obscurity.
  • The 1980 drama Honeysuckle Rose was an star vehicle for country star Willie Nelson, who played the lead role of a country singer and wrote several songs for the soundtrack. One of those songs was "On the Road Again", one of Nelson's biggest and most popular hit singles. He was nominated for an Oscar for the song, but the film it's from has been mostly forgotten.
  • The 1975 Diana Ross vehicle Mahogany performed poorly at the box office and today (aside from a musical version being featured on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) is pretty much only remembered for its chart-topping theme song, "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To?)".
  • "Come Little Children" was originally a Villain Song from Hocus Pocus. The song's origin has been eclipsed over the years. It's seen as a generic "spooky/mystical song" without its original context, and thus several covers make it less ominous. As a result of this, "I'll Put A Spell With You" is the Signature Song of Hocus Pocus despite "Come Little Children" being just as popular.
  • Chinese comedy duo Chopstick Brothers became famous in their home country for a viral video, which in 2014 was remade into a film, Old Boys: The Way of the Dragon. They wrote a promotional song for it, "Little Apple", but soon enough people started flocking into the theaters to hear the song, instead of the other way around. "Little Apple" became a huge meme in China and elsewhere, also helped by the simple square dance featured in the music video for the song, and for a while it was considered "the next Gangnam Style". Meanwhile, the film has been more or less forgotten.
  • The Lionel Richie song "Endless Love" (recorded as a duet with Diana Ross) came out from the 1981 feature Endless Love. While the movie has faded into obscurity, the song became that year's second biggest single in the US. Nowadays, the movie where the song came from, is generally remembered only for Tom Cruise's debut.
  • "The Great Beyond" by R.E.M. completely eclipsed the movie it was written for, the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. The film was a commercial disappointment that recieved mixed reviews (although its reputation has since improved), but the song - Intended as a thematic sequel to the band's earlier hit single about Kaufman, "Man on the Moon" - became R.E.M.'s biggest hit ever in the UK and was a biggest hit on rock radio in the US.
  • Smash Mouth's "All Star" is often associated with its appearance in the 2001 animated blockbuster Shrek, but originally appeared in the 1999 flop Mystery Men.
  • "Zoom Zoom Zoom," by Brazilian Jibril Serapis Bey, originally appeared in the largely forgotten 1993 martial-arts film Only the Strong but became popular from its use in Mazda car commercials.
  • Bon Jovi wrote and recorded "Always" for the movie Romeo is Bleeding, but disliked the film and changed their minds about letting its producers use the song. They then included "Always" on their 1994 greatest-hits compilation Cross Road, and it became a top 5 hit. The lyrics even include a Title Drop of the movie ("this Romeo is bleeding, but you can't see his blood").
  • Bonnie Raitt's "Have A Heart" hit #49 on Billboard's Hot 100 and #3 on the Adult Contemporary charts in 1990. The Bob Hoskins / Denzel Washington film Heart Condition was not as fortunate.
  • Darling Lili was a Box Office Bomb that derailed Julie Andrews's film career for a few years. Its soundtrack was a different story; the song "Whistling Away The Dark" was especially popular, and she would sing it frequently at concerts. As a result, when it got a Colbert Bump from being used in Mr. Robot, people were surprised to discover it's from a film.
  • In the rare case of an entire album fitting this trope, Prince's eighth studio release Parade was intended as the soundtrack to his 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon. The movie was a Box Office Bomb, but the Parade album was a huge critical and commercial success and spun off the hit singles "Kiss" and "Mountains". Today, Cherry Moon is an obscure footnote in Prince's biography, and is usually only brought up in relation to the much better known Parade.
  • In a similar case to Parade, Earth, Wind & Fire's 1975 album That's the Way of the World was recorded as a soundtrack for the film of the same name, which the band also appeared in. The band members wound up hating the movie when they saw it, believed it would flop and moved up the release of their album by three months. EWF made the right choice: The film was indeed a box office bomb, but the album proved to be the band's breakthrough release, and the single "Shining Star" became their first #1 hit.
  • "Scotty Doesn't Know" by the Pop Punk band Lustra was originally written for the 2004 teen comedy EuroTrip, one of the last films of the late '90s/early 2000s Sex Comedy boom. What's more, it's actually plot-important; in the context of the film, it's about how the lead singer stole the protagonist's girlfriend, setting off the events of the story, and it repeatedly shows up afterwards as a Running Gag to taunt Scotty. The song is one of the main reasons why Eurotrip remains a Cult Classic; it became Lustra's only charting hit, and as late as 2018, it was used to prank Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
  • "Blue Moon" was originally written with different lyrics as "Prayer (Oh Lord, Make Me a Movie Star)" for Hollywood Party as a song for Jean Harlow to sing; the song was never recorded and Harlow was not in the movie when it released in 1934. The tune received new lyrics for use as a title tune for Manhattan Melodrama (that version is also known as "It's Just That Kind of Play"), but it was cut before release. The song does show up in the movie as a nightclub number with a third set of lyrics, "The Bad in Every Man". MGM's music publisher thought the tune had commerical potential, but wanted a punchier title and more romantic lyrics, which led to the familiar "Blue Moon" song we all know and love.
  • The Little Mermaid (2018) was met with So Okay, It's Average responses (especially from fans of the Disney version who felt it was trying to fool people into thinking it was a live-action remake). However halfway through the movie, Poppy Drayton sings an "I Want" Song called "When This Story Ends" that has enjoyed great press on YouTube and Spotify - and gets more praise than the movie itself. Quite simply because people were not expecting her singing voice to be that beautiful.
  • "The Shape of Things to Come," a song performed by the main character of Wild in the Streets, got to number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968, credited to the fictional band Max Frost and the Troopers.
  • The Leann Rimes song "Can't Fight The Moonlight", which was a hit in Australia and the UK, was originally from the 2000 film Coyote Ugly, and is still in rotation on several adult contemporary radio stations.

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