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Top 10 Movie Songs

By Edited May 22, 2015 0 0
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Credit: Feitscherg/Public Domain image via Wikimedia Commons

Music is an important component of movies. Filmmakers integrate music to enhance a movie. It is not uncommon to find a film's soundtrack contains tracks specially written for the movie, although in other cases, already previously written music fits the bill and the filmmaker will get permission to use it, sometimes taking a song to new levels.

Over the years many memorable songs have been included in various films to enhance and add to the emotional connection moviemakers hope viewers make as they watch. Most songs are written and/or included to typically evoke some kind of emotional reaction, and whether it's fun, love, hope or fear, these top 10 movie theme songs are some of my top picks:

"Layla", written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon

A personal favorite of mine. The timeless classic rock song, originally recorded by Clapton when he was with Derek and the Dominos in the early 1970s (he went on to record his own version later), it became even more popularized in the 1990s with Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas". After the movie was released, for many people it perhaps likely forever changed the memories connected with this song. Today the image not only evokes nostalgic feelings of earlier decades, but the piano coda at the end conjures up a sense of chaos and a life falling apart, making it a most memorable top 10 movie song. 

Keyboard of grand piano - Steinway & Sons
Credit: User:Fanoftheworld/Public Domain accessed via Wikimedia Commons

Theme from "Jaws", by John Williams

Ominous and foretelling something bad was going to happen, this 1975 instrumental is a hauntingly unforgettable song. The brilliance is in its simplicity. Even decades later, no matter where someone is when they hear this tune, if you grew up having seen this movie, chances are your mind transports back to an ocean beach with visualizations of a killer shark popping unexpectedly out of the waters.

"Grease", by Frankie Valli

In 1978 the play turned movie became one of the hottest big screen events in the latter half of the 1970s, grossing $159,978,870 making it the top grossing film of the year2. Once the feel-good theme "Grease" hit the radio, everyone was singing "Grease is the word" making it another strong contender as one of the top 10 movie songs over the decades.

"I Will Always Love You", as sung by Whitney Houston

Originally penned and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973, powerhouse vocalist Whitney Houston remade this song and it became a smash hit with the release of the film "The Body Guard" in 1992. Houston's version became one of the best selling singles of all time.  While Parton's version was great, Whitney Houston kicked it up a notch and made this song stand out. Parton had re-recorded the song many times over the years, but many people still associate this song with Houston. 


Theme from "Star Wars", written by John Williams

The instrumental theme for 'Star Wars' is another memorable song written for a movie. Indeed this theme song for the 'Star Wars' IV episode "A New Hope" is fitting and definitely holds a spot in the top 10 movie theme songs that are probably remembered by millions as Star Wars continues to implant itself into newer generations through continuation of the trilogy. Now that Disney has bought everything "Star Wars" in a deal made with George Lucas last year with new movies on the way, this theme is likely to become even more popular as new generations of "Star Wars" fans are attracted to the new flicks and undoubtedly, toys and theme parks.

"Time of My Life", as sung by Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley

In 1987 "Dirty Dancing" swept onto the big screen and took society by storm. It seemed everywhere you went someone was either listening to this song, or singing it. This theme song was a fun and feel good song. It is no wonder the tune became an instant hit and can easily be a contender for a top 10 movie theme songs list. Who wouldn't want to reminisce about the time of their life? Another song that has spanned decades.

"Ghostbusters", written and sung by Ray Parker Jr.

A catchy pop tune connected with a hauntingly popular movie, albeit strange, the "Ghostbusters" theme song is one of those songs that movie goers probably walked out of the theatre humming---for weeks. As a number one hit with lots of radio play, "Ghostbusters" deserves a mention.

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"Unchained Melody", as sung by The Righteous Brothers

In 1990 the timeless classic love song accompanied "Ghost", a movie that touched the hearts of many. Written and recorded many years earlier, "Unchained Melody" was the perfect melody to accompany a love that spanned different worlds and as a result became an unforgettable song in this flick.

"My Heart Will Go On," as sung by Celine Dion

In 1997, James Cameron's movie, which was based on the Titanic maritime disaster and simply titled "Titanic", became a blockbuster hit. It's theme song "My Heart Will Go On" also became an instant hit. People either love or hate this song -- either way making it a memorable one.

"9 to 5", written and sung by Dolly Parton

The title song from the 1980 comedy is an upbeat tune with a deserving mention in the top 10 movie songs. Catchy beat with descriptive lyrics, the song was a good selection and the ideal theme for this flick. At the time, this song was pretty popular and gained a lot of radio time.


Other Honorable Mentions

Admittedly, after the first five it got harder for me to narrow down. The above are just 10 of my picks, however, it would be remiss not to mention artists such as the Bee Gees (pretty much anything on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack) and Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You", from "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (admittedly I've not seen this movie but certainly remember the song!)

Then again, who can forget Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" (Rocky III) and "It Must Have Been Love", by Roxette (Pretty Woman)? And any of Julie Andrews' singing in "The Sound of Music" could easily fit in a top movie list, along with the almost-new Idina Menzel's it "Let It Go", from Disney's Frozen. If you asked anyone under 25 of their top 10, the latter would undoubtedly be included. Love it or hate it (perhaps due to current play saturation), it's bound to be a classic in years to come and Menzel's power vocals along with it.

OK, OK, this is way more than 10 songs... 

What are some of the most memorable songs included in movies that stick out in your mind?



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  1. "Grease." Box Office Mojo. 27/09/2014 <Web >
  2. "Top Grossing Films of 1978." Listal. 27/09/2014 <Web >

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