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Best Songs From 80s Movies

By Old School Tim

I have had several articles that have alluded to the important role music can play in movies. There is nothing better than the perfect song playing at that perfect moment in a movie. Music can help tell a story sometimes without you even knowing it is doing so and music can create or intensify emotions unlike almost anything else in the world. Music can be very powerful.

In the 80s, many songs gained tremendous popularity after appearing in movies. Sometimes the songs ultimately became more popular than the movies they were in. I decided to put together a Top 10 list of the best songs to appear in 80s movies, but the list was so long and impressive that I decided to give you 50 songs instead. So here is my Top 10 Best Songs Featured in 80s Movies (+ bonus 40):

 

50. "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr. from Ghostbusters (1984) – watch video

49. "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins from Top Gun (1986)

48. "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy from Do the Right Thing (1989)

47. "The Arms of Orion" by Prince & Sheena Easton from Batman (1989)

46. "The Heat is On" by Glenn Frey from Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

45. "Let's Hear it For the Boy" by Deniece Williams from Footloose (1984)

44. "Heaven In Your Eyes" by Loverboy from Top Gun (1986)

43. "Bit By Bit" by Stephanie Mills from Fletch (1985)

42. "Twist of Fate" by Olivia Newton-John from Two of a Kind (1983)

41. "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" by The Blues Brothers from The Blues Brothers (1980)

40. "Holiday Road" by Lindsey Buckingham from National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

39. "Breakin'...There's No Stopping Us" by Ollie & Jerry from Breakin' (1984)

38. "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger from Risky Business (1983) – watch video

37. "After All" by Cher & Peter Cetera from Chances Are (1989)

36. "The Secret of My Success" by Night Ranger from The Secret of My Success (1987) - watch video

35. "This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)" by The Talking Heads from Wall Street (1987)

34. "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo from Weird Science (1985)

33. "Maniac" by Michael Sembello from Flashdance (1983) – watch video

32. "Who's Johnny?" by El DeBarge from Short Circuit (1986) - watch video

31. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross from Arthur (1981)

30. "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin from Top Gun (1986)

29. "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – watch video

28. "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins from Footloose (1984) – watch video

27. "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama from The Karate Kid (1984)

26. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship from Mannequin (1987) – watch video

25. "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes from An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) – watch video

24. "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins from Risky Business (1983)

23. "On the Dark Side" by John Cafferty from Eddie and the Cruisers (1983) – watch video

22. "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince from Purple Rain (1984)

21. "It's In the Way That You Use It" by Eric Clapton from The Color of Money (1986) - watch video

20. "Hazy Shade of Winter" by The Bangles from Less Than Zero (1987)

19. "If You Were Here" by The Thompson Twins from Sixteen Candles (1984)

18. "The Goonies R Good Enough" by Cyndi Lauper from The Goonies (1985) – watch video

17. "Rhythm of the Night" by DeBarge from The Last Dragon (1985)

16. "Burning Heart" by Survivor from Rocky IV (1985) - watch video

15. "Meet Me Half Way" by Kenny Loggins from Over the Top (1987)

14. "Love Touch" by Rod Stewart from Legal Eagles (1986) – watch video

13. "Almost Paradise" by Ann Wilson & Mike Reno from Footloose (1984)

12. "If You Leave" by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (O.M.D.) from Pretty in Pink (1986) – watch video

11. "Crazy For You" by Madonna from Vision Quest (1985) – watch video

10. "The Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera from The Karate Kid Part II (1986) - watch video – This song was Cetera’s first solo hit reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August of 1986 not too long after the movie was released. An interesting bit of trivia is that this song was originally written for the movie Rocky IV, but when passed on for that film it was picked up for the Karate Kid sequel.

9. "Kiss" by Prince & The Revolution from Under the Cherry Moon (1986) – Most of the songs from this movie came from the Prince album titled Parade. This song won the Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April of 1986. I have always considered this unique song one of my favorites and Rolling Stone included it in their Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It will also appear in the 90s movie Pretty Woman and the 2006 movie Happy Feet.

8. "I'm Alright" by Kenny Loggins from Caddyshack (1980) - watch video – This song only hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, but is definitely recognized synonymously with this movie which is one of the funniest of all time. When the little gopher popped out of the ground and shimmied to this tune, it became an instant classic. This is one of four Kenny Loggins songs to make this Top 50. His songs “Footloose” and “Danger Zone” are probably much more widely recognized, but I still rank this one higher on my list.

7. "Power of Love" by Huey Lewis & the News from Back to the Future (1985) – watch video - This song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August of 1985. It is featured at the beginning of the movie as Michael J. Fox’s character “Marty McFly” is seen skateboarding when he is late for school. It is also the song played at Marty’s band audition. Huey Lewis himself actually played one of the judges and stands up to deliver the ironic critique, “just too darn loud.” The soundtrack also included “Back in Time” another song by Huey Lewis & the News.

6. "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" by John Parr from St. Elmo's Fire (1985) - watch video – This song would supplant “Power of Love” and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September of 1985. The song was written by David Foster, but not originally for this film. It was inspired by a Canadian athlete who was paralyzed and traveling the world in his wheelchair to raise awareness. The “wheels in motion” do not refer to the wheels on the jeep owned by Demi Moore’s character in the movie, but actually the wheels on a wheelchair.

5. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins from Against All Odds (1984) – watch video – A prime example of a song that is so much better than the movie it appeared in, this song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April of 1984 (bumping “Footloose” out) and stayed there for 3 weeks. It is reported that Collins wrote the song a few years earlier for his first wife who had left him. It would win the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1985.

4. "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor from Rocky III (1982) – watch video – This song was written at the request of Sylvester Stallone specifically for this movie. The phrase was used by the “Apollo Creed” character to describe what “Rocky” was missing when he lost his title. The song became hugely popular and was also featured in the very beginning of Rocky IV in 1985. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of 1982 and stayed there for 6 weeks in a row. This is the second song from Survivor on this list and both are from Rocky films.

3. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears from Real Genius (1985) – A special extended edit of this song is featured during the ending credits and in the final scene of the movie as popcorn has overflowed from the house of “Prof. Jerry Hathaway” and “Lazlo” drives off with his prizes. It was originally released on the Songs from the Big Chair album making it one of only three songs in the top 10 not to be first released on the movie soundtrack. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June of 1985 and held that spot for two weeks. It is not so much known for its appearance in this movie, but qualifies for this list because of it.

2. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds from The Breakfast Club (1985) - watch video – Clearly one of the essential defining songs of the decade, this song is featured as the gang leaves the Saturday detention and head their separate ways. Judd Nelson’s character throws his fist into the air as it fades to black and this great song continues through the ending credits. This song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1985. It was written by Keith Forsey who also wrote another popular 80s movie song called “Flashdance… What a Feeling.” It was originally offered to Billy Idol and Brian Ferry as well as Chrissy Hynde who recommended Jim Kerr’s (her husband at the time) band, Simple Minds.

1. "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel from Say Anything (1989) - watch video – Here is a prime example of when a song plays such an important role in a film. This song blares from the boom box held above the head of “Lloyd Dobler” at a key moment in the movie. The song had not been chosen yet when they filmed this scene, so a song by the group Fishbone is actually being played during filming and would later be dubbed over with “In Your Eyes.” This song was originally released on Peter Gabriel’s 1986 album So but, though it had some success at that time, really achieved popularity several years later after appearing in this great movie by Cameron Crowe. It is reported that Crowe originally commissioned The Smithereens to write the song used at this crucial moment in the film, but their song “A Girl Like You” was ultimately rejected in favor of “In Your Eyes” and would later be released on their 1989 album titled 11. This song was an obvious choice to top this list.

Check out Old School Tim's blog called "Kickin' it Old School" at http://OldSchool.tblog.com for more 80s fun.

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