5 Phenomenal Movie Songs from the 80s


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.

38 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Movie Songs from the 80s

    • That’s a good one. I love that Glen Frey song. Wasn’t his Smuggler’s Blues song on that soundtrack too? Or was it on the Miami Vice television soundtrack?

  1. Great list of movies and I loved the Kevin Bacon on the Tonight Show video. I would also include Dokken’s Dream Warriors from Nightmare on Elm St 3. and the theme for Killer Klowns from Outer Space too

    • Oooh yes. Dream Warriors. The song was SOOO much better that movie. And who can forget George Lynch busting through the wall with his skull guitar? Epic! 🙂

  2. Wow, you could probably make this a list of 50 and still leave some out. Just off the top of my head I can think of a few more…

    Fame (Fame)
    What’s Love Got to Do with It (movie of the same name)
    Fight the Power (Do the Right Thing)
    New Attitude (Beverly Hills Cop)

    I’ll stop here.

  3. Coincidentally I watched Pretty in Pink last night and think the film’s terrific soundtrack really elevates it. Therefore, I’d probably put forward its title track as a honorable mention.

    Not going to argue with your top 5 though – spot on.

    • Thanks Dan. I remember the Pink soundtrack was a pretty big deal. I never was all that crazy about the title track though. Speaking of that movie, I saw where it will be showing on the big screen for a limited time.

  4. Lovely selection! For my 30th birthday, the theme was Movies from 1984, and the playlist featured Ghostbusters and Footloose, which still hold up to this day when it comes to getting people on the dance floor!

      • It was a pretty awesome party if I do say so myself. A lot of great movies came out in 1984, so there were lots of costume ideas to choose from, and I had this very talented lady make little cupcake toppers that represented the different movies. My fave was the cupcake topper with Freddy Kruegers hand, hat and “blood” splattered all over it 😀

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