Since the invention of the soundtrack, filmmakers have used music to set the mood, both with the score and by including songs that were popular in the era depicted by the film. It's no surprise that movies about teenagers would do the same, pairing themes like rebellion with rock 'n' roll, or first love with romantic ballads. Songs from a film often become more popular than the movie itself. Here are a few examples of films whose musical selections were the highlight of the production.
Grease -- Adapted from the Broadway play, this 1978 blockbuster pre-dated the High School Musical franchise by nearly 40 years, but the themes are the same: boy meets girl, and high jinks ensue. Fans didn't care that star John Travolta (playing a high school senior) was actually 23 years old, and love interest Olivia Newton-John was even older.
Hard Days Night -- This classic Beatles "mockumentary" features the Fab Four being chased around London by adoring fans, when all they want to do is have a little fun sightseeing, before making a television appearance.
Jailhouse Rock -- This 1957 musical established Elvis Presley as a bona fide Hollywood star, but the movie's longevity was surpassed by that of its title song. You can see John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd performing it at the end of The Blues Brothers, released in 1980.
Saturday Night Fever -- Disco hits the big screen in this dance movie starring John Travolta, and featuring six songs by the Bee Gees. Both the film and soundtrack album were wildly popular, but constant radio airplay ultimately incited the "Death to Disco" backlash, complete with angry mobs smashing and burning vinyl disco records.
Teen beach films -- Most Americans don't live near a beach, but these B-movies concocted for drive-in theaters in the 1960s -- featuring cool guys and perky girls in swimsuits -- made them wish they did. Why else would there be so many songs about surfing?