Shapstik’s Top 5: Eighties Movie Music

No decade in modern film has been defined so clearly as the “sound” that is the eighties. The up-beat, sometimes inspirational tunes and the sheer effort that singers, musicians and songwriters would put into a mere background song was astounding. Only in the eighties could a song be so full of cheese and actually work. These songs injected life into potentially flat genres and turned a simple action, comedy or fantasy film into something else: An eighties movie.

These songs became so ubiquitous with the film itself and whether it be through the title or lyrics, its timing in the film would fit the glove so perfectly in the moment. The songs always seemed to come at the film’s time of need, such as an motivational montage or to capture the feel of a fantasy epic. Be warned however, as the below top 5 is so full of cheese, it will probably give you bad dreams:

5: The Karate Kid (1984)

“You’re the Best” – Sung by Joe Esposito

The song that rose to fame as the background music to the All Valley Championships in The Karate Kid. It epitomised everything the film was about and reminded all those bullied and victimised kids out there that self-confidence and belief are the strongest weapon. The song suited the scene so well, that it almost seemed as if without it Daniel-son would not have won. Although I am not sure Mr Miyagi would have had it playing during his training sessions. 

4: Teen Wolf (1985)

“Win in the End” – Sung by Mark Safan

Although this film is probably not remembered for its soundtrack, the ‘final match’ scene was joined by a truly inspirational song that epitomised every sport-related montage in eighties movies. By simply accompanying the game with such an uplifting song, we all fell hook, line and sinker for the ridiculous idea that through team-spirit alone, these bunch of physically inferior misfits could outplay a clearly better team.

3: The Neverending Story (1984)

“The Neverending Story” – Sung by Limahl and Beth Anderson

If you have already pressed play then you are probably wondering why you always thought it was a woman that sung this. Although looking at his hair, it is definitely excusable. This is without doubt the perfect soundtrack for what is the perennial fantasy kids film. It captures the genres of fantasy, adventure and epic in one great moment that is etched permanently into the memories of all that experienced it as children. But, it is also a sad reminder that films this gloriously ambitious are just not made anymore.

2: Back to the Future (1985)

“The Power of Love” – Sung by Huey Lewis and the News

If the title music by Alan Silvestri captured the adventure and science-fiction of the film, then The Power of Love took care of the rest. It was everything that was cool about the movie, from the giant speakers to riding the back of a truck on a skateboard. The song also bridged the gap between the time zones during the film, as it was both distinctively eighties and jiving-fifties at the same time.

1: Rocky III (1985)

“Eye of the Tiger” – Sung by Survivor

A song that instantly creates a montage in the mind. It is so inspiring, we played it in the car on the way to every 5-a-side football match for motivation. We lost the season, but that did not stop it getting everyone fired up and ready before every game and filled us with the belief we could let in less than ten goals. It is one of the most famous soundtracks and the second it comes on, you cannot help but flip your hood up and spar on the spot.


2 thoughts on “Shapstik’s Top 5: Eighties Movie Music”

  1. You are right that the 80s stand out even though similar lists could be compiled for the 70s. The number of kids films or PG / PG13 to feature gives away your age somewhat also. Whilst you will naturally recall what was relevant to you at that time, drawing upon your own memories of watching these classic films, it would have been good to include a little variety. Teens of that decade may have appreciated such nods as Cry Little Sister- Lost Boys, Don’t you (forget about me)- Breakfast Club, Footloose- Footloose, Take My Breath Away- Top Gun and so on. Nice touch with Teenwolf as, although a poorly constructed movie it was filmed just prior to and released soon after Back to the Future which lifted its fan base and it could easily be overlooked. Glad there were no Ghostbusters or Time of My Life- Dirty Dancing, as they always get a nod. Keep it up, what about retro games soundtracks next… like Chrono Triggre, Mario and Projectile to name a very small few?

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