In 2001, the American teen dance film produced by MTV Productions, Save the Last Dance, was released by Paramount Pictures on January 12. Starring Julia Stiles as Sara Johnson and Sean Patrick Thomas as Derek Reynolds, this couple from Chicago work together to train Julia’s character for a dance audition at Juilliard School. In the story, Sara Johnson’s first audition into the school fails after learning her mother was killed in an automobile accident on her way to watch her daughter perform. Flooded with guilt, Sara moves in with her estranged father, Roy, who is played by Terry Kinney and works as a jazz musician at nightclubs. The move sees Sara transfer to a high school that is mostly populated by black students, having only a handful of white students as part of the roster. While at the school, she befriends Chenille Reynolds, played by Kerry Washington, who introduces her to a dance club called STEPPS. From there, Sara Johnson meets Derek Reynolds, and the on-screen chemistry of teenage romance blossoms as these two characters contend with bouncing back from a series of adversities, only to become something greater.
During its opening weekend, the first movie debuted at number one at the box office and grossed $27.5 million USD. Although the movie took a sharp nosedive in earnings the next weekend, it was still enough to hold its place as the number one movie. By the time the movie finished its run in the theatres, it grossed over $91 million USD in America alone, and over $131 million USD worldwide. In 2001, the MTV Movie Awards recognized Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas for Best Kiss. Thomas was also awarded Breakthrough Male Performance. Also in 2001, the Teen Choice Awards recognized Julia Stiles as Choice Movie Actress and Kerry Washington as choice Movie Breakout Star. The Choice Movie Fight Scene was also awarded to Julia Stiles and the actress, Bianca Lawson, who played the role of Derek Reynolds’ jealous ex-girlfriend, Nikki. Sean Patrick Thomas also became the recipient of the 2001 Young Hollywood Awards for Standout Performance – Male.
Save the Last Dance, plus its 2006 sequel, is loaded with musical material that has its own soundtrack that has become just as successful and critically acclaimed as the movie itself. At the 2002 American Music Awards, it won Best Soundtrack. The first soundtrack for the first movie was released on December 19, 2000 through Hollywood Records, which features a mix of contemporary R&B and hip-hop music. The soundtrack has appeared on numerous US Billboard charts, peaking as high as number three on the US Billboard 200 and the Top Internet Albums, at number two on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Canadian Albums Charts. The soundtrack has since become certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and gold by the Australia Recording Industry Association (ARIA). There are fourteen tracks in total from the soundtrack that have seen some of the music released as singles and earn chart success on the billboards, as well as accolades, nominations, certifications, and awards.
14. Bonafide (performed by X-2-C)
The rap song, (Bonafide), was performed by X-2-C as the third track leading into the soundtrack of Save the Last Dance. Entertaining enough to listen to, it never stuck out as a favorite among the fans of the movie, nor the soundtrack.
13. Move It Slow (performed by Kevon Edmonds)
Kevon Edmonds is the older brother to the infamous Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. His performance of (Move It Slow) was featured as one of the tracks on the Save the Last Dance soundtrack, which became a sultry favorite among fans of the movie, the soundtrack, and Edmond’s preference of a music style that’s all his own.
12. You (performed by Lucy Pearl, Q-Tip, and Snoop Dogg)
(You) was the fourth single from Lucy Pearl’s self-titled album that featured the collaborative work of Q-Tip and Snoop Dog. It was released in 2001 and became a popular music video on YouTube, as well as one of the tracks featured on the Save the Last Dance soundtrack. Lucy Pearl, as a supergroup, replaced its former member, Dawn Robinson, with Joi Gilliam, but the lead vocals were performed by Raphael Saadiq. In the video, Gilliam was shown as the female focus in the video, keeping the group’s balance intact.
11. My Window (performed by Soulbone)
(My Window), performed by Soulbone, was a gritty song that suited its purpose in the movie as a hint of a reality check that sometimes life’s circumstances don’t always cooperate with the hopes and dreams that have been planned out by our best intentions. The song served as an eclipse compared to the rest of the music featured on the soundtrack, thanks to its slow and mellow play with lyrics that seemed to be just as meaningful as the song itself.
10. Shining Through (performed by Fredro Starr and Jill Scott)
The opening track to the Save the Last Dance soundtrack is (Shining Through), which melodically brought u the issues of how hard life can be when times are tough, but the key is to rise up and shine through when the occasion calls for it. The original version is carried out as a soft R&B style, which its remix version is much faster with a stronger dance theme to it. Although it did play on the radio stations enough it did not chart anywhere on the billboards. It did, however, serve up as an intro to what the rest of the soundtrack, plus the movie, had in store. Shining Through was the official theme song for Save the Last Dance, as well as one of the original music scores designed specifically for the album.
9. All or Nothing (performed by Athena Cage)
In the movie, when Julia Stiles dances as Sara Johnson, the soul and emotion Athena Cage puts into the song, (All or Nothing), seemed to sum up the desired mood the scene in the movie had portrayed. On the soundtrack, it served as an inspirational piece for the listener.
8. Breathe and Stop (performed by Q-Tip) / Shining Through (Soulshock and Karlin Remix)
(Breathe and Stop) originally came from Q-Tip’s debut album, (Amplified), which was released in 1999. It was also one of the tracks featured on the soundtrack to Save the Last Dance, but not on all versions of it. It is replaced with a Soulshock and Karlin remix of (Shining Through). On the UK Dance Singles Chart, Breathe and Stop was a number one hit and it was a number twelve hit on its UK Singles Chart. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it peaked as high as number twenty-one, and on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number seventy-one. As for the Shining Through remix, although it did not appear on any music charts at all, but served its purpose as a solid dance song number.
7. Crazy (performed by K-Ci & JoJo)
The R&B love ballad performed by the duo, K-Ci & JoJo, was released in 2001 as their first single from their third studio album, (X). It was also featured on the Save the Last Dance Soundtrack and was noted for using auto-tune in its music style long before it became popularized in the music industry. The lyrical tale of a lover making poor decisions that resulted in a breakup he regretted was the theme behind the song. On the soundtrack, it’s the fourth song on the list and was also featured in the film. On the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40, it was a number-four hit and on the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked at number eleven. It was a top forty hit among the nations of the Netherlands and the UK, as well as on the urban charts belonging to Australia.
6. Murder She Wrote (performed by Chaka Demus & Pliers)
(Murder She Wrote) was a reggae-dancehall rock style song produced from Chaka Demus & Pliers’ album, Tease Me. The single was first released in 1992, then again in 1993. On the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, it peaked as high as number five, and on the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number twenty-seven. The song was based on the 1966 song by the Maytals, Bam Bam, as well as inspired by some of Angela Lansbury’s television series, titled Murder, She Wrote. In the underground dance scene, it was popular enough in its time.
5. You Can Do It (performed by Ice Cube, Mack 10, and Notorious B.I.G.)
The hip hop single, (You Can Do It) was performed by Ice Cube and first released from the Next Friday movie soundtrack in 1999. The song featured Ice Cube’s Westside Connection bandmate, Mack 10, as well as Ms. Toi. It was later featured on Ice Cube’s sixth studio album, War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc), as well as on the soundtrack for Save the Last Dance. On the music charts, it peaked as high as number thirty-five on the US Billboard Hot 100, at number thirteen on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and at number two on the US Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart, as well as on the UK Singles Chart.
4. You Make Me Sick (performed by Pink)
Pink’s album, (Can’t Take Me Home), was released in 2000 with (You Make Me Sick) as the third and final single released from it December. It was a moderate chart success on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking as high as number thirty-three. It was more popular in the UK as it charted as high as number nine on its official singles chart. In Australia, You Make Me Sick became certified gold by ARIA. It’s the fifth track on the Save the Last Dance Soundtrack.
3. Get It On Tonite (performed by Montell Jordan)
From Montell Jordan’s fourth studio album, (Get It On Tonite) was the lead single that is also featured on the Save the Last Dance Soundtrack. Using a sample from Claudia barry’s 1976 single, Love for the Sake of Love, Get It On Tonite served as Jordan’s final big hit in his career as it peaked as high as number four on the US Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for three solid weeks and was a top twenty hit among most of the foreign nations, including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK. On the Eurochart Hot 100, it peaked at number twenty-four. In the U.S., Get It On Tonite earned RIAA’s gold certification after selling over 500,000 copies.
2. U Know What’s Up (performed by Donell Jones)
(U Know What’s Up) was released from the artist’s second studio album, (Where I Wanna Be) in 1999. After its release, it topped the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for eight consecutive weeks, as well as peaking at number two on the UK Singles Chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, and the Irish Singles Chart, U Know What’s Up peaked at number ten. Since then, this song has become certified platinum with the United Kingdom’s British Phonographic Industry (BPI), as well as gold with the USA’s RIAA. In Save the Last Dance soundtrack, it’s the sixth track featured on it, which was one of the songs used in the movie.
1. Only You (performed by 112, Mase, and Notorious B.I.G.)
The debut R&B single, (Only You) came from a group, 112, which served as the lead single from their self-titled debut album in 1996. It spent a total of thirty-nine weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking as high as number thirteen. It was a number two hit on the US Billboard Hot Dance Singles and US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts. Since its release, it has become a gold-certified hit by the RIAA. Collaborated with Notorious B.I.G., Only You also features sampled music from K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s song, I Get Lifted.