10 Best Songs In The Royal Tenenbaums | ScreenRant

Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, the movie that launched the quirky auteur to new levels of critical acclaim and is still considered by some fans to be his masterpiece, has an original score by Mark Mothersbaugh. Mothersbaugh had provided scores for Anderson’s previous films, and in The Royal Tenenbaums, he used different musical instruments to represent different characters.

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But this tragicomic family saga doesn’t just use its original music. Anderson also included plenty of his signature needle-drops on the soundtrack. The film mostly features rock ‘n’ roll classics from the 1960s to the 1990s, with appearances by such legendary musicians as Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.

10 “Hey Jude” By The Mutato Muzika Orchestra

The soundtrack of The Royal Tenenbaums opens with a Beatles cover. The Mutato Muzika Orchestra’s whimsical version of “Hey Jude” plays over the prologue introducing the backstory of the Tenenbaum family.

The lighthearted melody provides the perfect musical accompaniment to set up the bittersweet relationships between the Tenenbaums, paired nicely with Alec Baldwin’s voiceover narration.

9 “These Days” By Nico

Richie Tenenbaum is madly in love with his adopted sister Margot, but she’s married to another man and having an affair with yet another man. Nico’s “These Days” plays over their reunion at the bus station. This marks the first time that Richie has seen Margot in years.

The use of Nico’s melancholic hit over this heartbreaking scene perfectly captures the painful feeling of unrequited love. Thanks to “These Days,” the audience knows exactly how Richie feels when he sees Margot step off that bus.

8 “Wigwam” By Bob Dylan

“Wigwam,” one of the breeziest songs ever recorded by Bob Dylan, first plays when Henry proposes to Etheline, she says yes, and they embrace. It carries over to Royal’s first meeting with his grandsons Ari and Uzi at the playground.

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Chas doesn’t want his kids to get to know their grandpa, but Royal is eager to forge a relationship with them and make up for lost time.

7 “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” By Paul Simon

Paul Simon’s solo hit “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” plays over the montage of Royal bonding with his grandkids. He takes them to a dogfight, they go shoplifting, they run alongside a swimming pool, they hang off the side of a garbage truck, and they run across a busy street on a red light (among many other reckless activities).

This hilariously careless behavior is a breath of fresh air for the boys, who have been dealing with their safety-conscious father’s overprotectiveness in the months since their mother’s untimely passing.

6 “Judy Is A Punk” By The Ramones

When Raleigh begins to suspect that his wife is cheating on him, he hires a private investigator to keep an eye on her. When the P.I. gets back to him, Margot’s sexual past turns out to be a lot more widespread and prolific than he was expecting.

The Ramones’ “Judy is a Punk” sets the perfect punk rock tone for the montage of Margot’s liberated romantic history.

5 “Needle In The Hay” By Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay” plays over the most heartbreaking scene in the movie. Richie goes into the bathroom and ritualistically cuts his hair and shaves his beard to finally reveal the face that he’s been hiding behind sunglasses, a headband, and facial hair throughout the whole movie.

He tells himself he’s going to take his own life tomorrow, then ends up grabbing his razor blade and attempting suicide there and then. The moody lyrics and tune of “Needle in the Hay” complement this powerful sequence beautifully.

4 “Ruby Tuesday” By The Rolling Stones

When Richie returns from the hospital, he joins Margot in her indoor tent, where she’s listening to the Rolling Stones record Between the Buttons. This was the Stones’ fifth British and seventh American studio album. She first listens to “She Smiled Sweetly,” then listens to “Ruby Tuesday” when Richie arrives. (“Ruby Tuesday” only appeared on the U.S. edition of the album.)

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After Richie shows his scars to Margot, they kiss. She confesses that his love isn’t unrequited and she does care about him, but since they were raised as siblings, they’ll have to be secretly in love.

3 “Stephanie Says” By The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground’s “Stephanie Says” plays when Richie is up on the roof of the hotel where Royal works, talking to his dad about his complicated feelings for his adopted sister.

While they’re talking, Richie’s pet hawk from when he was a kid – Mordecai – seemingly returns to him. In hilariously dry, Andersonian fashion, the schmaltziness is undercut by the fact that Richie and Royal aren’t sure if it’s really Mordecai or just a random hawk.

2 “Rock The Casbah” By The Clash

The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” is one of the diegetic soundtrack choices in The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s playing at Eli’s apartment when Richie comes over to confront him about his drug addiction.

Eli agrees to get help, then promptly flees the apartment. Richie and his backup – his dad, Royal, and Royal’s co-worker, Pagoda – watch out of the window as Eli flags down a cab, jumps in the back, and takes off down the street to avoid facing his problems.

1 “Everyone” By Van Morrison

Van Morrison’s “Everyone” ends the movie on a suitably bittersweet, nostalgic note as the Tenenbaums and their loved ones attend Royal’s funeral. The song kicks in as the baffled priest spots Royal’s wildly erroneous epitaph: “Died tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship.”

All the surviving characters leave the funeral in glorious Andersonian slow-motion before the Van Morrison track carries over into the end credits and plays out the film.

NEXT: 10 Best Songs In Rushmore

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