The 10 Best Uses of Dolly Parton’s Music in Movies and TV
Known as the country singer and actress with a heart of gold, Dolly Parton’s fame has largely transcended her role in country music, and she is a beloved figure. As a musician, her silky vocals and heartfelt lyrics never fail to evoke raw emotions in anyone who listens.
Despite her niche genre, Dolly’s music has appeared in a wide variety of movies and TV shows and she always adds something special. Whether it’s workplace comedies like 9 to 5or exciting science fiction like strange things, Dolly’s music is the perfect underscore for a scene.
ten Stranger Things (2016–present)
Featuring a soundtrack filled with great music from the 1980s, stranger things delivered everything a nostalgia fan could hope for. The show centers on a group of small town teenagers who befriend a strange girl who possesses supernatural powers.
While much of the show’s music is the hippest and most cutting-edge of the era, a few characters didn’t quite fit the new wave. In the episode “Trick or Treat, Freak”, beloved character Bob shows off a bit of his own musical taste while listening to Dolly Parton’s song “Islands In the Stream”. His duet with Kenny Rogers was one of his biggest hits, and it was interesting to see the show represent other 1980s hits, aside from the most popular music of the time.
9 Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
Dolly’s southern roots are important to her, and her life story somewhat resembles that of the main character in Sweet Home Alabama. A woman who moved to New York and made a living for herself must return to her small Alabama hometown in order to obtain a divorce from her ex-husband.
Dolly brings a hidden gem to the film as “Marry Me”. The song is an send-off to small-town values, and the narrator explains how quickly one can be rushed into a marriage after little moments of intimacy. Not only do the lyrics perfectly match the film’s story, but the bluegrass-inspired instrumentation underscores the scenes well.
8 Song Catcher (2000)
Generally considered one of the best films about country music, song catcher tells a story of the beginnings of the genre. A brilliant musicologist travels to rural Appalachia after being denied a promotion at her college. There, she stumbles upon a treasure trove of old folk songs that have been part of the community for generations.
Considering the story is about country music history, it was natural to feature an important industry figure on the soundtrack. Dolly contributes to the film and does a haunting rendition of the song “When Love is New”, which perfectly recreates the classic folk style. Blending seamlessly with the other major tunes featured in the film, Dolly showed that she was much more than a country pop singer.
7 2nd in Beethoven (1993)
While not necessarily the most famous film series of all time, Beethoven was a surprise box office success, and the sequel attempted to recapture the magic. by Beethoven 2nd sees the popular canine become a father, unfortunately for the St. Bernard, his beloved Missy is kidnapped and he must help bring her back.
As was the trend in the 1990s, the soundtrack of 2nd of Beethoven is anchored by an over-the-top R&B pop song that underscores the credits. Stepping out of her comfort zone, Dolly performs a duet with singer James Ingram on the song “The Day I Fall In Love”. Although this takes Dolly out of her country style, she is able to show off her vocal power and she stands out in a genre she doesn’t usually work in.
6 Big Love (2006-2011)
Usually in the conversation regarding the best HBO shows of all time, Great love was not afraid to broach taboo subjects. The show centers on a polygamist who must balance his many family relationships with his public life as the owner of several hardware stores in the Salt Lake City area.
The series’ soundtrack featured a wide variety of music, and the songs were usually chosen for their emotional weight. The episode “A Seat at the Table”, sees several of the show’s female characters questioning their position in the family. To emphasize the emotions of the episode, the song “Wildflowers” has been exquisitely arranged. The trio’s song with Dolly, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt is about how a free spirit cannot be contained and can thrive wherever it goes.
5 GLOW (2017-2019)
Few shows have managed to blend comedy and drama as cohesively as the Netflix series. GLOW. The show chronicled the life and work of a troupe of female professional wrestlers known as The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
The episode “Homeward Bound” sees the cast take a trip to the desert for an overnight camp. When things don’t go as planned, the adventure causes everyone to question their life choices and they all bond as a group. The song “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” perfectly underscores the episode’s final scene with lyrics about finding hope in new beginnings. The proverbial morning in the song meets a literal morning in the show.
4 The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Based on the TV show of the same name, The Beverly Hillbillies tried to recapture the magic of the classic series. Jed Clampett is an ordinary man who accidentally finds oil and earns enough money to move his family to Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.
Like the show, the film’s theme is to stay true to who you are even in the face of enormous wealth. To put an end to this message, Dolly Parton contributed the song “If You Ain’t Got Love” to the soundtrack. The catchy anthem extols the virtue of family, and the lyrics specifically mention how wealth cannot replace true love.
3 Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
Amid his string of career-defining classic hits, director Martin Scorsese has delivered a well-thought-out hidden gem. Alice doesn’t live here anymore is the story of a recently widowed woman who takes her young son on the road with her in pursuit of her dream of becoming a singer.
The character-based drama also features a whirlwind romance between two polar opposite characters, and it’s the story’s hinge. To punctuate their love, Dolly Parton’s classic hit “I Will Always Love You” appears repeatedly in various honky tonks and bars. Although it’s just used as a mood, the message of undying love also matches what’s happening on screen.
2 The Best Little Brothel in Texas (1982)
Although she is a serious figure in the country music scene, her performance in The best little brothel in Texas showed that Dolly also had a dumber side. A small-town Texas sheriff does everything he can to save his local home of disrepute after a TV reporter threatens to expose him.
Duplicating this, Dolly not only stars in the film, but she also wrote many of the musical’s most memorable tunes. Playing with co-star Burt Reynolds, Dolly’s song “Sneakin’ Around” sums up the film perfectly. With lyrics filled with silly double meanings, the song encapsulates their relationship, as well as the overall tone of the film.
1 9 to 5 (1980)
In order to land Dolly Parton in one of the lead roles, she was allowed to write the theme song for 9 to 5, and the film was all the better for it. Three employees of a sexist and brutal businessman decide to take revenge on him.
While the story is a fun comedy with a set of ringtones, the heart of the film is the rambunctious theme song that shares the film’s title. Fulfilling its purpose as a theme song, “9 to 5” introduces themes from the film and does so with great flair. Showing Dolly at her best, “9 to 5” is still one of her most beloved tracks.
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