During a discussion today, the song Stuck in the Middle came on. One of the members of my team asked, "is this on Reservoir Dogs?" Another said, "this is off Reservoir Dogs". To which the team manager stated, "no, what you meant to say was, this song features within Reservoir Dogs".

I stated that syntactically, all three are correct. While only the third is the correct way, the first two are still valid. Is this correct, are any valid?

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    IMO, speaking any of these lines between friends, classmates or colleagues is probably sufficiently clear because in context, you can all hear the song and most likely know the movie reference. Semantically and grammatically, though, it would probably be clearer if asked/said/written like this: "Is this song from Reservoir Dogs?" or "This song is from Reservoir Dogs". Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 22:31
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    “This song features within Reservoir Dogs ​” is ungrammatical. You could say, that the song is featured in Reservoir Dogs, or even that it features in Reservoir Dogs_—but not that it _features within the movie. That simply does not make sense. Your first two versions, with ‘on’ and ‘off’, would indicate that Reservoir Dogs is an album, rather than a movie. For albums, you can use ‘on’, ‘off’, or ‘from’ (but not ‘in’); for a movie, you can use ‘from’ or ‘in’ (but not ‘on’ or ‘off’). Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 22:43
  • @KristinaLopez The only problem with that construction is that it might imply the song was written for or most known from Reservoir Dogs. I would say: Is this song in Reservoir Dogs?
    – ghoppe
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 23:18
  • @ghoppe, me too, but the question of the origin of the song is different from OP's examples. I knew that song since its original release! Lol! Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 23:56
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    Yay for indescriptive titles! Seriously, it's in your own best interest to attract potential answerers, and nobody ever clicks on "I have a question" or "Colloquialisms in speech". Be precise. Make people want to visit.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 0:03

4 Answers 4


I do use on or off (or off of) for songs, but when I do so it is usually in reference to an album.

While it may seem counter-intuitive that both on and off can mean the same thing, it is simply a shift of reference. A song was traditionally stored on an album or single, which was generally equivalent to a unit of physical media (vinyl record, cassette tape, compact disc, etc.). But you can also speak of the song deriving from the album, hence it comes off it:

Rihanna will perform the next single off her latest album.

To say

The song is on Reservoir Dogs

is to say implicitly

The song is on the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack.


The song is on Reservoir Dogs - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Now, if we specifically wanted to refer to the film, we would say in, as everything featured in a motion picture is in it (not within): actors, locations, special effects, props, dance numbers, chase scenes, and so on.

The song is [played|used|heard] in Reservoir Dogs.

Strangely, things are on television as much as they are in movies. We say "She appeared on The Tonight Show last week," or "My sister-in-law was on Channel 7 News last night," and would similarly say "They played this song on Scrubs."

By this measure, The Lion Sleeps Tonight is in The Lion King, but not on The Lion King, and Charlie Schlatter was on Ferris Bueller but not in Ferris Bueller.

You could also say from, in the same sense of origination and derivation as off, in which case your audience will assume you refer to whichever media they know the title best from.

"My cat is named Azelma, after the character from Les Misérables."

"Which character was she? Does she sing in the first act?"

"They made Les Misérables into a musical?"


On Reservoir Dogs doesn't work because Reservoir Dogs is not a physical storage media for the the song to be on. For the same reason, off Reservoir Dogs doesn't work.

Within Reservoir Dogs doesn't work because Reservoir Dogs is not a physical space to be within, and the similar in Reservoir Dogs is wrong because to be in a play or film requires an appearance, or a role, to be a part of (in) the plot.

By a process of elimination, I would probably say from Reservoir Dogs, though as one commenter has mentioned that could imply that the song was written for the film. If that is a concern, used in Reservoir Dogs would clarify it.


Most marketing uses "featured in" or "On the MOVIENAMEHERE soundtrack."


I agree with "from" as in "a song from the movie," "a song from the album" From is used to indicate a source, a beginning, or a point of origin. The song was heard as part of the sound track of the film which makes the film a point of origin. I disagree with the usage "off," which indicates the physical removal of something off of something else, as in "get your feet off (of) the table." You cannot remove the song from the album, so it cannot be "off of the album." It is an imprecise usage. I would tend to disagree with "on" because the song is not in physical contact with the film. It is not spatially located above the film and resting on it.

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