It could be said of the 1980s that it was the best time for pop songs in the movies. Popular, playful, and sometimes just goofy, so many huge music hits in the 80s came from movie soundtracks and found massive popularity via radio and music videos. Today’s Phenomenal 5 is focusing on them. Now these may not be the “best” songs in the literal sense, but they were so much fun and such a key part of their movie during that time. To narrow it down a bit I’m mainly focusing on the very biggest songs. Now with so many to consider I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. Still, I have no problem calling these five movie songs from the 80s absolutely phenomenal.
#5 – (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (“Dirty Dancing”)
Without question, one of the biggest crazes of the 80s surrounded “Dirty Dancing”. In 1987 it blew up the box office. Its soundtrack was equally popular releasing TWO multi-platinum albums. The music was led by (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life and it wasn’t just young girls who were into it. Women of all ages were singing along with Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. The song would go on to win a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award.
#4 – Ghostbusters (“Ghostbusters”)
When Ray Parker, Jr. agreed to do the theme for “Ghostbusters” he wasn’t given much time. Short on ideas, he saw a late night infomercial which inspired the immensely popular Ghostbusters theme. It is an incredibly playful song which would reach #1 on Billboard’s charts and be nominated for an Oscar. It’s probably best known for its full blown 80s-styled video which was directed by Ivan Reitman. It featured loads of cameos, loads of cheese, and loads of good silly fun.
#3 – Danger Zone (“Top Gun”)
I remember sitting at home in 1986 when the video for Danger Zone came on MTV. I had seen it before, but I had something else in mind. I called my dad into the room. He watched the video and that afternoon we were in the theater watching “Top Gun”. Mission accomplished. Danger Zone was such a cool and energetic song from Kenny Loggins. And while it never received any major award nominations, its amazing how often it still pops up on television, in commercials, in trailers, and even in other films.
#2 – Flashdance – What a Feeling (“Flashdance”)
The accolades for Irene Cara’s fantastic “Flashdance” theme song are most impressive. The song topped twelve global charts. It won the Oscar for Best Original Song. It won a Golden Globe. It won Cara the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. “Flashdance” was a box office hit despite a generally negative reception from critics. But over the years the music may be what people remember more than the movie. The soundtrack released several hit songs but none better than this one.
#1 – Footloose (“Footloose”)
It was February 17, 1984 and Kevin Norwood Bacon was about to see his career explode. That was day “Footloose” hit theaters. The film and Bacon garnered a lot of attention. But so did the soundtrack, particularly the theme song from Kenny Loggins. The song became legendary among 80s movie music and the video endeared Kevin Bacon to a generation just as much as the movie did. It hit #1 on the charts, was nominated for an Oscar, and won the Grammy for Song of the Year. I still start tapping my toe every time I hear it.
So there are just a few of the many great movie songs from the 80s. So many others come to mind – Eye of the Tiger, The Power of Love, Don’t You Forget About Me. What else did I miss? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.