Every year, the Academy Awards honors a musician with the Best Original Song Oscar, and about every year, the Academy Award embarrasses itself. On the hale, the class, which was created in 1934, rewards compositions that attract at the heartstrings with an excessively aggressive, occasionally dangerous touch. The list of winners provides an incomplete history of the fascinate intersection between the music clientele and film industry. There ‘s a real need for understudy canons — particularly if they include Kenny Loggins. With all apologies to Berlin ‘s “ Take My Breath Away, ” that ‘s what we ‘re here do to. The craft of a cohesive movie soundtrack may be an increasingly lost art, but the original movie song endures, giving you something to hum as you walk to the cable car from the field or close the Netflix tab key. Sometimes it ‘s a perfect thematic fit with the film ‘s narrative. Sometimes it barely sounds good. Sometimes it ‘s “ Eye of the Tiger ” and you end up getting pulled over on the drive home. These are the 33 movie soundtrack anthems you ‘re silent listening to long after the credits roll.
Reading: The 33 Best Movie Songs of All Time
hera are the ground rules : We ‘re merely including songs recorded and released for a movie. That means the use of “ Layla ” in Goodfellas does not make the cut — neither does your favored needle drop from Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, or David Lynch. besides, we ‘re not including any movie musicals. ( Sorry, Disney fans. ) And to make this a slightly accomplishable job, we ‘ve limited ourselves to English-language films made after 1960 .
33. “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic, Celine Dion
It had to be on here. Celine Dion ‘s ultra-treacly ballad, which sold 18 million copies cosmopolitan, is everything beautiful and absurd about Hollywood movie music : unashamedly manipulative, impeccably produced, and impossible to get out of your mind. obviously the film ‘s composer James Horner was inspired by Jethro Tull ‘s “ Flying Dutchman, ” but the sung will only send bathetic images of Jack and Rose, director James Cameron ‘s doomed lovers, soaring through your beware. critic Carl Wilson wrote a whole koran examining the appeal of the Dion album this song found a base on. It ‘s likely we ‘ll inactive be puzzling over it until the conclusion of fourth dimension — or at least until we steer this planet into a giant crisphead lettuce .
32. “The Power of Love” from Back to the Future, Huey Lewis and the News
few non-musicals trust on music sol heavily as a plot device as Robert Zemeckis ‘ clock change of location drollery Back to the future : There ‘s the big amp-blow-out at the beginning, the “ Your cousin Marvin Berry ” choke, and the aroused “ Earth Angel ” dancing at the Enchantment Under the Sea sock-hop. Zemeckis and his co-writer Bob Gale knew that rock ‘n ‘ wind was the connective tissue between the aspiring yuppie teens of the ’80s and the scheming greaser teens of the ’50s. On their single “ The Power of Love, ” Huey Lewis and the News combined the calculate seriousness of the older era with the slickness professionalism of the present. It ‘s synthesis. It ‘s alchemy. It ‘s the world power of Huey .
31. “Men in Black” from Men in Black, Will Smith
How celebrated was Will Smith when man in Black came out in July 1997 ? He had good finished up a six-season run on a popular NBC situation comedy, starred in an enormous sci-fi blockbuster the previous summer, and was gearing up to release his inaugural solo album without the support of his musical partner DJ Jazzy Jeff. To put it in advanced terms, it ‘d be like if Taylor Swift was on The Big Bang Theory and in Star Wars — and then starred in a movie where she did the root birdcall and besides did a goofy dance with it. It ‘s impossible to imagine, good ? Honestly, Will Smith is incredible. He ‘s forgive for “ Wild Wild West. ”
New Line Cinema
30. “Save Me” from Magnolia, Aimee Mann
Paul Thomas Anderson ‘s Magnolia is such an emotionally draining movie that when this beautiful but wholly crushing Aimee Mann song drops about two-thirds into the film, and all the characters start lip-synch along, it feels like a reprieve. finally, you can breathe. The frogs that rain down from the sky during the stopping point might be the matter everyone leaves this ensemble drama talking about, but the “ Save Me ” sequence, which serves as a bizarre mission instruction and a cry for help, is the most audacious element in an absurdly audacious movie. few songs could withstand that tied of examination. Mann does n’t need saving .
29. “Regulate” from Above the Rim, Warren G featuring Nate Dogg
” baffle ” is the type of song that envelops you. The lyrics from Warren G and Nate Dogg tell a narrative of an LA carjack with the farinaceous detail of the best crime fiction, but the healthy of their voices draw you in more than anything else. The two sound agile, relax, and in total control condition. A Michael McDonald sample hums underneath them. Removed from the context of the Above the Rim soundtrack, which was produced by Suge Knight ‘s famously disruptive Death Row Records, it stands alone as one of the best songs of the G-funk era .
28. “Miss Misery” from Good Will Hunting, Elliott Smith
Beloved indie artist Elliott Smith do at the Oscars in his white suit, with Hollywood luminaries like Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman watching from the audience, remains a phantasmagoric persona to just sit and think about. How did that happen ? Sure, Celine Dion ‘s Titanic ballad won the Best birdcall award, and there are plenty of Smith tracks better than “ miss misery, ” but the slingshotting of a singer like Smith into the national foreground via some perfect soundtrack cues remains a touch as the more celebrated Matt Damon and Ben Affleck origin narrative. The ending might be tragic — Smith committed suicide in 2003 at the age of 34 — but we ‘ll always have the white befit. And the song.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
27. “Let the River Run” from Working Girl, Carly Simon
For a period in the ’80s, songs in movies sounded wholly pathetic. Think of strange cultural products like “ Winner Takes It All ” from Over the Top or any song featured in the Beverly Hills Cop series. There ‘s a coked-out exuberance on display that ‘s both funny and terrific ; it sounds like money being tossed into an incinerator. Carly Simon ‘s “ Let the River Run, ” the Oscar-winning track from Mike Nichols ‘ romantic drollery Working Girl, has a little of that going on. today, you ‘d probably call it extra. ( The drum ! The lyrics ! The guitar alone ! ) But sometimes you ‘ve got tantalum let the river run .
26. “Ghostbusters” from Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.
Most theme songs for movies are ill-advised. ( See, again : baseless Wild West. ) particularly in the kingdom of comedy, there ‘s a danger in getting excessively jokey and distracting viewers from the story you ‘re trying to tell. Ray Parker Jr. ‘s Ghostbusters theme, which spent three weeks on the exceed of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1984, is indeed effective because Parker plays it straight : The song sounds like it could be a jingle for a commercial you ‘d hear on late night television. ( Or possibly a Huey Lewis song — producers on the movie excellently asked Parker Jr. to replicate the musician ‘s sound, and he did such a problem, Lewis sued him over ripping off “ I Want a New Drug ” ). “ Who you gon na call ? ” the sung asks. Parker Jr. does n’t try to capture the smart-ass wag of Bill Murray or the frenzied charm of Dan Aykroyd. He ‘s got a tax and he accomplishes it. You ‘d dial him again .
25. “The Harder They Come” from The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff
” The Harder They Come ” was the only master song recorded specifically for the soundtrack of the 1972 crime film of the lapp mention. The album, which included tracks by groups like The Maytals and The Slickers, introduced reggae to modern listeners across the ball, providing a roadmap of fresh interests for curious listeners. With its infectious rhythm and Cliff ‘s rebellious vocals, the title track was an excellent musical ambassador for the area of Jamaica, capturing the musical and political change of the region while however keeping your fountainhead cernuous .
The Criterion Collection
24. “Cat People (Putting out Fire)” from Cat People, David Bowie
” See these eyes so green, ” sings David Bowie at the beginning of “ Cat People. ” “ I can stare for a thousand years/Colder than the moon/It ‘s been indeed long. ” immediately, he ‘s got you in his sight and the bunker has been set. The Thin White Duke and his co-writer Giorgio Moroder capture the baleful temper of Paul Schrader ‘s eerie Cat People remake while bringing their own arch sensitivity to bear on the material adenine well. Though the song was craftily deployed in Quentin Tarantino ‘s World War II epic Inglourious Basterds — and then preferably cheesily used again in last year ‘s descry thriller Atomic Blonde — it belongs to the freaky kingdom of the guy people .
23. “Glory” from Selma, Common and John Legend
John Legend and Common ‘s Oscar-winning inspirational anthem for Ava Duvernay ‘s Selma is not as nuanced and complex as the movie it sprang from. When it plays at the end of the film, it hits you right in the gut, but if you spend any clock with the lyrics, particularly Common ‘s occasionally bumbling verses, you might end up shaking your mind. There ‘s a line that may or may not be about the Justice League. still, this sung deserves a spot on this list for moving Chris Pine to tears. That ‘s a giving .
22. “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III, Survivor
Are you a “ Gon na Fly now ” person or an “ Eye of the Tiger ” person ? Both songs speak to the quality of the Rocky films they appeared in. “ Gon na Fly now, ” which was written by the series ‘ frequent composer Bill Conti for the first Rocky, is a soaring theme that sounds connected to the Philadelphia streets the italian Stallion runs through. “ Eye of the Tiger, ” which was commissioned by Sylvester Stallone after Queen would n’t let him use “ Another One Bites the Dust ” for Rocky III, is a swaggering riff-machine that evokes images of muscle-bound runs on arenaceous beaches. One has grit ; the early has glit. Like Apollo Creed, “ Eye of the Tiger ” wins by cleave decision .
Warner Bros. Pictures
21. “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, Tegan and Sara feat. The Lonely Island
The enduring Orwellian cheer of “ Everything is Awesome ” is a will to fair how baleful The Lego Movie is as a while of bulk entertainment. Is the sung supposed to be satirical ? A song to hum while being a corporate dawdler ? A signboard of our collective imprisonment ? At this point, it ‘s hard to suss out the irony horizontal surface of Tegan and Sara ‘s addictive electro-pop firecracker, which besides features a very amusing Lonely Island verse. “ Stepped in mire, got new brown shoes, ” they rap at one point. “ It ’ second amazing to win, and it ’ s amazing to lose. ” adenine far as ideologies go, it ‘s compromising !
20. “Danger Zone” from Top Gun, Kenny Loggins
The parlous zone referred to in this song ca n’t be found on a map or pointed to in the flip. presumably, when one arrives in the area of heightened vulnerability, which is possibly outdo categorized as a mental state or philosophic region, the implicit in dangerous qualities of the outer space become axiomatic. blood rushes to the center, perspiration covers the skin, and epinephrine takes over as the body surrenders to the invalidate. The highway beckons and the engine roars. “ Danger Zone ” endures .
19. “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman
” Jai Ho ” fuck goes. From its open notes, A.R. Rahman ‘s elegant mix of synths, guitars, drums, strings, and vocals commands attention and deference. For all the stylistic shifts that occur in the song, it maintains a sense of ever-building momentum throughout its run-time. Where Danny Boyle ‘s Oscar-winning film about a adolescent on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ? frequently feels contrived, every character of “ Jai Ho ” fits together like a puzzle being assembled on a travel rapidly string. What keeps it from flying off the rails ? Rahman ‘s entire control .
Read more: The 20 Best U2 Songs of All Time
18. “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, Three 6 Mafia
Before there was Empire ‘s Lucious and Cookie Lyon, there was Hustle & Flow ‘s DJay and Shug. And long before you could stream the latest song from FOX ‘s hip-hop drama, you had to check out “ It ‘s hard Out here for a Pimp, ” Three 6 Mafia ‘s hypnotic street-life narrative. The Memphis-based rap group took Hollywood by storm with this lead, which Terrence Howard ‘s character performs in the film. But Howard ‘s performance is n’t what sold the song. The charming is in DJ Paul and Juicy J ‘s twirl, bombastic product, which they had experimented with and perfected for over a decade before the movie commercial enterprise came calling .
17. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from The Breakfast Club, Simple Minds
It ‘s a wonder that more songs do n’t begin with the singer calling out “ Hey ! Hey ! Hey ! ” This New Wave jam from the Scottish rock group Simple Minds provided the ideal romantic backdrop for John Hughes ‘ suburban fib of adolescent pain, desire, and rebellion. The glazed Brat Pack veneer of The Breakfast Club can dull some of the handwriting ‘s more affecting insights, but this song cuts through the sitcomy talk through one’s hat. Like a exultant fist puncturing the flip, it sends a clear message : Some memories never fade .
16. “Born Slippy .NUXX” from Trainspotting, Underworld
The being of movie soundtrack sequels — second volumes put in concert following the runaway success of the first release — feels like the bell ringer of a decadent era headed for a steep refuse. In the ’90s, movies like Richard Linklater ‘s Dazed and Confused and Danny Boyle ‘s Trainspotting would inspire this type of double-dipping. possibly everyone was barely looking for the following “ Born Slippy .NUXX ” to lose their minds over ? It ‘s a lumber, daring cut of techno eden that budded off from an alternate track ( “ Born Slippy ” ) and catapulted by the movie ‘s climax. worth buying the soundtrack for the original and the sequel for the remix .
15. “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
here ‘s some context : The Dirty Dancing soundtrack sold 11 million copies and stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart for 18 weeks. It was a juggernaut. But according to a recent Rolling Stone feature about the make of the record, Bill Medley initially did n’t even want to be a separate of it initially because he thought the movie sounded like “ a bad pornography ” and he had no theme who Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were. That would cursorily change. Soon, the song was everywhere — and Swayze and Grey became family names. But, in Medley ‘s defense, the title does still kinda sound like a bad pornography .
Warner Music Group
14. “Don’t Let Go” from Set It Off, En Vogue
” What ‘s it gon na be ? ” The question is proper there in the first note of this penetrating R & B sung : Who are you loyal to ? For a song off the soundtrack to a crime film about four female friends who plan and execute a daring savings bank robbery in Los Angeles, it ‘s a tattle orifice gambit. The women of En Vogue besides hailed from California — Oakland, specifically — and this song shows off their chumminess and versatility. even when they ‘re singing about electric potential grief over that syrupy Organized Noize production, they sound like they ‘re casing the put .
Warner Bros. Pictures
13. “Pusherman” from Super Fly, Curtis Mayfield
During the 1970s, soul legend Curtis Mayfield became the go-to composer of simultaneously farinaceous and lush soundtracks for films like Claudine, Let ‘s Do It Again, and Sparkle. But his work on Super Fly stands above them all, creating a template of style, width, and virtuosity that musicians are still chasing. A go-to sample for hip-hop producers, “ Pusherman ” besides recently provided the theme music for the entitle sequence of HBO ‘s Times Square menstruation piece The Deuce. evening 40 years later, he ‘s calm pushing .
12. “Goldfinger” from Goldfinger, Shirley Bassey
There was only room for one Bond theme on this list, so we ‘re going with the gold criterion : Shirley Bassey ‘s juicy, brassy encomium to “ the man with the Midas Touch. ” In less than 3 minutes, she evokes a wholly universe of dangerous possibility, tantalizing the hearer with crafty hints of what ‘s to come. even the best chemical bond movies are often besides much — the gadgets excessively crazy, the one-liners besides bum, the plot excessively absurd — but “ Goldfinger ” is just bluff enough. When Bassey hits that final notice, it ‘s like watching Bond jump from an exploding building. Knowing he ‘ll survive does n’t make it any less exhilarate .
20th Century Fox
11. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, B.J. Thomas
The easy-going appeal of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stands in sharp contrast to many of the black, bloodier revisionist Westerns that emerged in the 1960s. so, it ‘s fitting that the movie ‘s unofficial root music “ Raindrops Keep Fallin ‘ On My Head, ” which was written by the ace songwriting couple of Hal David and Burt Bacharach, was a blithe diddy that did n’t attempt to make any grand statements about life or end. ( Leave that to Bob Dylan ‘s “ Knockin on Heaven ‘s Door ” from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which would surely be on an elaborate version of this list. ) alternatively, it ‘s contented with its own gem-like human body, a pleasing dollop of a pop birdcall .
20th Century Fox
10. “9 to 5” from 9 to 5, Dolly Parton
Of all the songs on this list, “ 9 to 5 ” is the most provocative review of capitalism. Look at the lyrics : “ It ‘s all taking/And no giving/They precisely use your mind/And they never give you credit/It ‘s enough to drive you/Crazy if you let it. ” If Marx was a nation singer, would he have put it any differently ? The hit sung from the 1980 office drollery starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Parton herself works as ear sugarcoat. Each line is apt, Parton ‘s vocals brim with sass, and the typewriter audio effect gives the birdcall a bright, tactile quality. It ‘s like the demands are being written up as the song goes .
The Criterion Collection
9. “I’m Easy” from Nashville, Keith Carradine
As you ‘ll see towards the goal of this list, the “ no musicals ” rule is n’t precisely a unvoiced and firm one. There ‘s a type of music industry film where the performances all take place in a naturalistic, unheightened context — like at a chocolate denounce, a cabaret, or a record studio apartment — and Robert Altman ‘s sprawling comedic ensemble piece Nashville might be the best of the bunch together. During Keith Carradine ‘s rendition of his ballad “ I ‘m easy, ” Altman ‘s roving camera notices the ways different women who have fallen into the singer ‘s vane of self-love react to him. A small tragedy of glances and sighs plays out between artists and audience. As a delicate work of songwriting and filmmaking, it ‘s anything but easy .
8. “Streets of Philadelphia” from Philadelphia, Bruce Springsteen
The ferment of film maker Jonathan Demme, the director of hotheaded comedies like Something Wild and chilling thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs, is brimming with the unbridled enthusiasm of a fan. When Demme liked something, he ‘d put in a movie. Philadelphia, his legal play about an AIDS patient suing his company for discrimination, makes room for not precisely a song called “ Philadelphia ” by Neil Young, but besides an even better, more hit sung called “ Streets of Philadelphia ” by Bruce Springsteen. Neither of these artists are from Philly. ( Young is from Canada ; you know where Springsteen is from. ) In Demme ‘s world, these distinctions crack up : If the song works, it goes in the movie. It ‘s a policy that served him well over a long career .
The Criterion Collection
7. “Mrs. Robinson” from The Graduate, Simon & Garfunkel
In his four-star review of The Graduate, film critic Roger Ebert declared Mike Nichols “ a major newfangled director ” but besides excellently dinged the movie for including excessively many “ limp, long-winded Simon and Garfunkel songs. ” history has n’t precisely been kind to his appraisal — The Graduate ‘s use of music had an incomputable influence on New Hollywood directors — but he has a point : evening the best sung, “ Mrs. Robinson, ” is n’t precisely bursting with energizing energy. Like many of the characters in the film, these songs were mild-mannered and self-conscious. Decades late, the Boston rock band The Lemonheads would give “ Mrs. Robinson ” a kick back in the ass. It ‘s the type of brilliant cover that sends you rear to the original text, which might hold more secrets ( and more of an edge ) than you first gear expect. Limpness is in the center of the perceiver .
6. “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile, Eminem
In some ways, “ Lose Yourself ” is hip-hop ‘s answer to “ Eye of the Tiger ” : a super-charged athlete jam that can pump up a stadium, get hearts pounding, and beat up a team to victory. The guitar riff that powers the song is anthemic. At the same time, the Oscar-winning track off the 8 Mile soundtrack besides has an familiarity and specificity that makes it more than a rap version of Michael Buffer ‘s “ Let ‘s get ready to rumble ! ” The opening details have been parodied to death — “ palms are sweaty, ” “ emetic on his sweater, ” and “ Mom ‘s spaghetti ” are forever lodged in the corporate unconscious — but the second and third base verses, which dial into Rabbit ‘s anxieties about providing for his class and his desire for fame, feel about underrated at this decimal point. They make the sung ‘s giant star chorus hit tied harder .
5. “Theme from Shaft” from Shaft, Isaac Hayes
Two years before he released the era-defining soundtrack for Shaft, Isaac Hayes dropped the evenly essential Hot Buttered Soul, a work of smoldering ambition. He carried over the string-drenched, orchestral heave of that album to his music for Shaft, which stretches the conventions of person, R & B, and jazz to newly limits. Records like Curtis Mayfield ‘s Super Fly would follow in the path it created. When his velvet, deep vocals arrive late in the sung, it feels like they ‘re introducing a character we already know from the wailing guitars and blaring horns. He ‘s already a mythic figure. He arrives fully formed. He ‘s Shaft .
Warner Music Group
4. “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever, The Bee Gees
Let ‘s forget that the ineffably cockamamie Saturday Night Fever sequel, Staying Alive, even exists. It ‘s unfortunate the sweat-drenched follow-up, which was directed by Sylvester Stallone and features multiple songs by his brother Frank Stallone, sullied the name of one of The Bee Gees ‘ best songs. alternatively, let ‘s remember the groove, the strings, and, of course, the piercing falsetto of Barry Gibb, who turns this night on the town into an evening of interdimensional travel. possibly more than Travolta ‘s white suit, slicked-back haircloth, or his dance moves, Gibb ‘s high vocals are this disco text file ‘s enduring bequest. attempt to imitate at your own riskiness .
3. “Fight the Power” from Do the Right Thing, Public Enemy
When director Spike Lee recruited Long Island rap innovators Public Enemy to write a song for his new film about a neighborhood in Brooklyn, he was looking for a racetrack that would match the root urgency driving the undertaking. If Do the Right Thing is a powder keg of a film, then “ Fight the Power ” is a lighted fuse. Updating the Isley Brothers ‘ 1975 song of the same name for the post-Reagan national temper of 1989, Chuck D delivers a message of political defiance, resilience, and pride. “ Elvis was a hero to most/But he never meant shit to me, ” he declares in the birdcall ‘s third poetry, throwing down some music criticism of his own. It ‘s the phone of history being written .
Warner Bros. Pictures
2. “When Doves Cry” from Purple Rain, Prince
The bony rhythm method of birth control of “ When Doves Cry, ” which was created by a barrel machine and features no bass line, was an aberration in pop music. Though the title track might be the ultimate throw-your-candle-in-the-air rock encore, the blunt texture of “ Doves ” is the better song because it shows how airy prince could be. He did n’t chase trends ; he bent the will of radio receiver to his will — and he did it with style, wag, and fun than his contemporaries. As a movie Purple Rain is frequently transfix, but as an album it was all consume. This is another subject where we might be cheating by including this : purple Rain is basically a musical, correct ? Prince did n’t care about those categories and distinctions. Why should you ?
Warner Bros. Pictures
Read more: Top 10 Best Songs of All Time
1. “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard, Whitney Houston
It ‘s allow that the greatest movie soundtrack song of all time would feel untethered from its source. This wrenching common mullein song was on the soundtrack for the Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner melodrama The Bodyguard, and before that it was written and performed by Dolly Parton, but Houston ‘s translation has the power to obliterate those details from your memory. Frankly, it ‘s a colossus. A study in the craft of melisma, the track begins in total silence, Houston ‘s articulation emerging with startle clarity. Each production choice, from the bowed stringed instrument musical arrangement to the doleful sax solo, serves to accentuate her delivery. When she takes flight towards the end, hitting those “ I ‘s ” and “ you ‘s ” with surgical preciseness, you about levitate, besides. That ‘s what greatness can do. Sign up here for our daily Thrillist electronic mail and sign hera for our YouTube channel to get your localization of the best in food/drink/fun. Follow Thrillist Entertainment on Twitter @ ThrillistEnt