Ah, the good old eighties. Some call them stylish, some call them tacky, but none can say they weren’t fun. The flashy styling, big hair everywhere and most importantly – cool music. From disco pop to arena rockers and even heavy metal, the music scene thrived throughout the 80’s, spawning numerous major acts still at the top of their game even today, such as Madonna, Prince or Bon Jovi.
The movie scene was equally prolific, so it’s no wonder that the two have somehow merged and produced some of the most epic soundtracks of all time. “Footloose,” “Maniac,” “Eye of the Tiger,” are just some of the tunes accompanying those legendary films you might have recently seen on some random ‘80s movie t-shirts. Anyhow, let’s cut the talk and get some action going on here. Buckle up and check out our pick of 10 epic ‘80s movie tunes below.
Tina Turner – “We Don’t Need Another Hero” from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985)
Starring in a box office bomb and delivering a major hit as its main theme track is something only superstars like Tina Turner can accomplish. The third installment of the globally renowned Mad Max series, 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” sees Tina playing the role of Aunty Entity, the vigorous, Amazon-like leader of Bartertown, and also performing the movie theme, a worldwide chart-topper of its own titled “We Don’t Need Another Hero.”
Apart from movie snippets, the song’s music video features Turner singing under the spotlight while wearing the distinctive chain mail dress. Apocalyptic, gloomy atmosphere, cool clothes and an epic hook in the chorus have proven themselves as crucial parts of the winning formula and cemented the tune among the true ‘80s classics.
Public Enemy – “Fight the Power” from Do the Right Thing (1989)
Proving that the 80’s weren’t all about the pop synths and senseless partying, New York-based rappers Public Enemy deliver one of the most distinctive politically and socially fueled songs of all time – 1989’s “Fight the Power.” Initially released as a single, the song found its way to “Do the Right Thing” soundtrack, ultimately representing the film’s main social theme, emphasizing the tensions between different races in Brooklyn, New York.
The track itself is more than just a crass call for senseless violence usually associated with punk movement and has a deeper message. In the words of group’s bass player Brian Hardgroove, “’Fight the Power’ is not about fighting authority—it’s not that at all. It’s about fighting the abuse of power.”
Ray Parker Jr. – “Ghostbusters” from Ghostbusters (1984)
“Ghostbusters” is one of those 80’s classics that became somewhat of an epitome of the decade they were made in. Flashy lights, futuristic sounds and effects, bright attitude, the “Ghostbusters” movie theme has it all.
Performed by Ray Parker Jr. back in 1984, the song became an instant hit, rocking the No. 1 position of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, where it stayed for three consecutive weeks, even earning itself an Academy Award nomination in the Best Original Song category.
Kenny Loggins – “Danger Zone” from Top Gun (1986)
Another tune, another blood-pumper; Tom Cruise, airplanes and intense groove, what more do you really need? With Giant guitarist Dann Huff pumping up his power chords along the rocking drum beat, vocalist Kenny Loggins had the perfect conditions to deliver the best possible vocal lines and ultimately form yet another 80’s classic.
In case you haven’t figured out yet, the song is a part of the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun” soundtrack, which interestingly enough had a total of two entries on our list. Keep on scrolling and you’ll find the second one in no time.
The Blues Brothers – “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” from “The Blues Brothers” (1980)
It’s blues time! In case you aren’t familiar with the legendary scene or just need to define pure epic awesomeness with a single video, you have got to check the clip below.
By the time of the critical scene, brothers Jake and Elwood are down to their necks in trouble, with half of country after them for their mishaps. But that didn’t prevent them from doing an epic performance of “Everybody Needs Somebody.” With a simple message of hope and love, the iconic duo and their backing band spread a simple, yet crucial words of wisdom, saying that “no matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there’s still some things that make us all the same.”
Michael Sembello – “Maniac” from “Flashdance” (1983)
An anthem of all the aspiring dancers, “Maniac,” is yet another signature 80’s track guaranteeing an instant adrenaline rush upon the very first listen. As one of the highest earning movie tunes ever written, the 1983’s “Flashdance” theme easily topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks upon its initial release in September of 1983. The entire soundtrack even won the 1984 Grammy Award in the Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special category.
Berlin – “Take My Breath Away” from “Top Gun” (1986)
We promised you another “Top Gun” entry, so here it is. Not exactly a rocking tune such as “Danger Zone,” but equally epic, “Take My Breath Away” is a soothing love ballad performed by a synthpop six-piece Berlin.
As the film’s first single, it climbed to the very top and No. 1 position of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, also topping the sales charts in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Belgium and Netherlands, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song along the way.
A random interesting fact – although named after the German capital city, the group Berlin had basically nothing in common whatsoever with either Germany or the German culture, apart from admitting the influence German electronic music icons Kraftwerk had on their work.
Kenny Loggins – “Footloose” from Footloose (1984)
1984’s “Footloose” tells the story of a Chicago teen Ren McCormack, played by Kevin Bacon, moving to a small town in which dancing has been banned. And when you have a seriously catchy hook such as the one in movie’s theme song, it becomes a law that is impossible not to disobey.
In case you haven’t noticed, the track is performed by Kenny Loggins, the same guy who delivered “Top Gun” soundtrack tune “Danger Zone” two years later. So it would appear that Mr. Loggins has a thing for delivering tight, upbeat jams impossible not to rock out to.
Survivor – “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III (1982)
And now, it’s time to really hit the gym! Although many of the songs we listed so far have proven themselves as good workout material, none of them has ever reached the status of a workout anthem in a same way as “Rocky III” main theme, the legendary “Eye of the Tiger.”
Performed by a rock band Survivor, the song features that iconic guitar riff you probably all know. Epitomizing strength, endurance and persistence, the song was hand-picked by Sylvester Stallone himself as the theme track for the 1982’s third installment of “Rocky” series, and that definitely says something.