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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 it was.

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):

Film

  • Autumn in New York
  • Brazil (the Terry Gilliam movie).
  • Blue Hawaii
  • Blue Velvet
  • Can't Buy Me Love
  • Can't Hardly Wait (the Replacements song of the same name shows up in the end credits).
  • Convoy
  • Demolition Man (a song by The Police; Sting does a new version of it as the end-credits song).
  • Detroit Rock City
  • Down With Love, which incorporates Stock Footage of Judy Garland singing the title song
  • Drive Me Crazy
  • (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)
  • 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.)
  • It Takes Two
  • I Wanna Hold Your Hand
  • Jeepers Creepers
  • 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.
  • Man on the Moon (The 1992 R.E.M. song about Andy Kaufman became the title for his Biopic 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 Mighty Quinn
  • My Girl
  • Only The Lonely
  • Paper Moon
  • Peggy Sue Got Married
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Pretty Woman
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Satisfaction
  • Sixteen Candles (covered by The Stray Cats)
  • Stand by Me
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • 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."
  • Walk The Line
    • Bonus! There was also a 1970 movie starring Gregory Peck titled I Walk the Line.
  • White Christmas

Live Action TV

  • 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 "Ahes 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").
  • 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.

Theatre

  • Almost all Jukebox Musicals: Mamma Mia, 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."
  • Jerusalem
  • 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.

Western Animation

  • Code Monkeys
  • Christmas specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, though those are both animations telling the same story in a song.

Video Games

Using a brand-new title song:

Theatre

  • 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

  • Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040
  • Cowboy Bebop: See the article
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service: All the manga chapters are named after obscure japanese pop/rock songs, with each volume commonly containing chapters named after songs by the same artist or other similar relations.
  • Kamichu!: Each episode shares its title with the name of a J-pop song from the '80s or early '90s.

Comic Books

Fan Fiction

Film

  • 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 Boyfriend's Back
  • Love Will Tear Us Apart by Yu Lik-wai (although not the original title)
  • All Tomorrow's Parties (idem)
  • Murder by Numbers
  • 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.

Literature

  • Arguably, Poppy Z. Brite's Exquisite Corpse, after the song by Bauhaus.

Live Action TV

  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Grey's Anatomy also uses song titles.
    • 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, and their Season Two episodes after REM songs.
  • 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?
  • British sitcom September Song. The song in question was already being used by a rival broadcaster's May to December.

Music

  • Deep Purple
  • 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 (Motorhead song), and Machine Head (Deep Purple album).

Theatre

Video Games

Webcomics

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