Milt, you have to go into a project like this knowing that if you include a bunch or even a few specific songs, a script reader will ding you. However, if the songs you choose carry a deep thematic meaning related to the story content, you buy yourself some leeway.

As noted in the OP, the best use of a song is if the specific lyrics match up with the specific events of the story’s plot, thereby, imbuing that scene with an extra layer of meaning. The worst use of a song is if there is no meaning relative to the characters or the plot, just there for atmosphere. In other words, if someone is walking down the street and you ‘here’ the Simple Minds song “Don’t You Forget About Me” accompanying their stroll, but it doesn’t really add anything other than ambience, I’d advise you cut it.

Ultimately, it all comes down to your characters and the story you tell. If it’s compelling and a reader gets swept up in it and they see the same thing you are going for in using specific songs in the script, that sensibility should prevail over the knee-jerk negative reaction of seeing a song title in a script.

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