High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

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Written By Maya Cantina

I’m a cinephile who enjoys regularly revisiting my favorite films, but director Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity is a movie that exists in a very special category for me in that I’ve probably watched it dozens of times. The characters and performances are wonderful and real (I always appreciate how I vacillate between loving and hating each of the protagonists), and it’s hilariously brutal emotional honesty help make it one of the all-time best romantic comedies.

But above all other brilliant qualities, its greatest strength is its soundtrack – which only makes sense given how important music is to the story. From Barry White to Bob Dylan to The Chemical Brothers, the movie finds a ideal song for every scene, and the official album is fittingly one of the best cinema-born mixtapes you’ll ever find. All that on the table, it’s a difficult task to rank the best of the best music moments in High Fidelity, but in an effort to honor John Cusack’s Rob Gordon and his habit of making Top 5 lists, I’ve attempted to do just that (albeit multiplied by three).

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

15. “The River” by Bruce Springsteen

The Bruce Springsteen cameo in High Fidelity is one of the film’s best moments, but The Boss is also at the heart of one of the great music moments. “The River” plays over the story of Rob’s relationship with Sarah Kendrew (Lili Taylor), and it provides a somber sound for the pairing born out of “collective loathing for the opposite sex.” It’s additionally fitting it’s a song about young love told with a bleak perspective.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

14. “Seymour Stein” by Belle & Sebastian/ “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina And The Waves

Here we have two songs that really tell us everything we need to know about Rob Gordon’s employees. First there’s Dick (Todd Louiso), the soft-spoken introvert who aims to add some chill vibes to the record store with “Seymour Stein” by Belle & Sebastian, but then in comes Barry (Jack Black) with his in-your-face attitude – and without a second thought the ditches the moody tunes for the burst of energy that comes packed with the ecstatic vibes of Katrina And The Waves’ “Walking On Sunshine.” It’s a textbook example of music being used to show instead of tell.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

13. “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Babe” by Barry White

“No woman in the history of the world is having better sex than sex you are having with Ian.” With that sentiment and Rob’s imagination generating a horrific nightmare, the only possible soundtrack choice here was a song by Barry White, and High Fidelity knocked it out of the park. White’s deep baritone voice and sultry lyrics are deeply associated with sex in pop culture, and “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Babe” is an ace accompaniment to the ridiculously passionate grinding on screen featuring Laura (Iben Hjejle) and Ian (Tim Robbins).

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

12. “Suspect Device” by Stiff Little Fingers

High Fidelity posits that the strongest relationships are built on “what you like, not what you are like,” and it’s wonderful to see that philosophy come to life with the use of “Suspect Device” by Stiff Little Fingers. Dick meets Anaugh Moss (Sara Gilbert) when she is on the hunt for a new punk record in the store, and it’s thanks to the song and a customer wondering if it’s the new Green Day album that the two music geeks/future item gets to share a moment of eye-rolling connection.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

11. “Dry The Rain” by The Beta Band

I can’t explain why I love Rob using the record store speaker system for customer manipulation, but I really do. The man spends much of the movie in a crushed emotional state following his breakup and reflecting on past relationships, but when he puts on “Dry The Rain,” he does so with a special confidence – knowing that the song will immediately inspire browsers to check out EPs by The Beta Band. Really the only issue with this High Fidelity music moment is that it gets interrupted when Vince (Chris Rehmann) and Justin (Ben Carr) attempt a bit of shoplifting.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

10. “Lo Boob Oscillator” by Stereolab

In the third act of High Fidelity, everything seems to be going swimmingly, as Rob and Laura are back together and happy… but then in walks Caroline Fortis (Natasha Gregson Wagner). From the very moment she enters the picture identifying Stereolab playing on the speaker system, she is immediately identifiable as trouble – and things don’t get better when Rob realizes she is a music columnist. “Lo Boob Oscillator” is a rad song, and it does the trick instigating a click.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

9. “Who Loves The Sun” by The Velvet Underground

The sweet and pleasant “Who Loves The Sun” is a smart soundtrack choice for a revelatory moment in a film, and High Fidelity nails it. The Velvet Underground plays as Rob continues to reel from his breakup with Laura and feels compelled to revisit the most consequential romantic relationships in his life. He finds closure when he tries to call Alison Ashmore and discovers that she ended up marrying her “first” boyfriend, Kevin Bannister, and it’s a huge weight off of the protagonist’s mind.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

8. “I Get The Sweetest Feeling” by Jackie Wilson

Rob begins High Fidelity pondering, “What came first: the music or the misery?” but the film finds the polar opposite emotion late with the incorporation of “I Get The Sweetest Feeling” by Jackie Wilson. So much of the movie is about heartbreak, but life becomes wonderful again when Rob and Laura get back together, and this soundtrack choice is an excellent celebration that lets the audience get in on the characters’ feelings.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

7. “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” by The Velvet Underground

High Fidelity features a number of brilliant rain-soaked sequences, and this won’t be the only one I mention in this ranking – but this is the first in the movie chronologically, and it’s a gut-punch. While “Who Loves The Sun” promotes some optimism in Rob’s life, The Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” punctuates the character’s lowest moment after he discovers that Laura and Ian have slept together – theoretically closing the door on their potential reunion.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

6. “Baby, I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton

All of the credit here goes to Lisa Bonet. Prior to meeting Dick and Barry at a bar, Rob is discouraged to hear the familiar sound of a Peter Frampton song, but the seductive performance by Marie de Salle (Bonet) successfully changes his mind – not to mention the minds of Dick and Barry. It’s a fantastic cover… though admittedly not the best cover to be found in the High Fidelity soundtrack (a hint at what’s still to come).

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

5. “Always See Your Face” by Love

One of the best songs about heartbreak on the High Fidelity soundtrack is ironically by Love, as “Always See Your Face” is an impeccable match for Rob’s post-breakup despair (key lyric: “Won’t somebody please/Help me with my miseries.”) I will always identify this trumpet-heavy track with what is one of my favorite exchanges in the movie, with Rob being asked, “Do you have soul?” and replying flatly, “That all depends.”

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

4. “The Inside Game” by Royal Trux

This track represents a ballsy move by the High Fidelity filmmakers. The movie needed a song so good that it would inspire Rob to create his own record – regardless of the individuals that produced it. In reality, “The Inside Game” is a song by the group Royal Trux, but it’s a fitting song for the personalities of hooligan skateboard kids Vince and Justin, and in the words of Barry, “it’s really fucking good.” It’s trippy, funky, and punk all at the same time, and understandably irresistible to Rob’s aspirations.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

3. “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)” by Stevie Wonder

Are Rob and Laura destined to stay together? The romantic in me wants to say yes – assuming that the protagonist can properly ignore his terrible instincts – and the use of Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)” as High Fidelity’s final song before the credits reinforces by belief. The fact that Rob uses the song to begin his new mixtape for Laura inspires hope that he is over his “shit for brains” era of constantly looking for something better and properly recognizes the incredible love he has in his life.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

2. “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye

At this point, audiences everywhere know about the phenomenal musical skills of Jack Black, but those who didn’t back in 2000 when High Fidelity was first released got a powerful lesson. Rob’s desperation to not hear Barry perform ramps up anticipation for a comedic disaster in the movie’s third act, but then Black’s charisma completely flips the script with his rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” Even if it were all just covers, I would totally buy a Barry Jive And The Uptown Five album.

High Fidelity: Ranking The 15 Best Music Moments In The John Cusack Romantic Comedy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

1. “Most Of The Time” by Bob Dylan

Back in 2009, I ranked this particular High Fidelity scene as the third best movie music moment of the 2000s, so let it be known that my love for it runs deep. When Rob is at his lowest point in the film, leaving Laura’s father’s funeral accepting the blame for everything that went wrong in his last relationship, “Most Of The Time” by Bob Dylan is a perfect pairing. It’s a song that’s actually about lost love, making it a match lyrically, but the slow strumming and Dylan’s melancholy voice syncs with the pouring rain and Rob’s devastation to make the sequence unforgettable.

High Fidelity isn’t currently available to stream on any subscription services, but it is available to digitally purchase and rent from outlets including Prime Video, Google Play, Apple, and Vudu. And if you need more John Cusack in your life, check out our guide celebrating his best films.

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