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Back to the '80's: Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of the 80's

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of the 80's

Whether it was songs made specifically for a certain movie or songs that were cherry picked to be in the movie, they really knew how to put together great soundtracks in the 80's.

What we didn't know back then was, the songs we were listening to were actually making up the soundtrack to our youth. Who, reading this, doesn't hear certain songs from back in the 80's and have memories, be they good or bad, come rushing back?

To me the thing that makes, not only a good soundtrack, but also, a good album, in general, is the ability to start it from the beginning and let it play. While there is quite a bit to be said for having that one absolutely great song on an album or soundtrack, it is depth of quality that makes an album or soundtrack excellent.

So with that said, let's sit back and countdown the Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of the 80's. I hope you enjoy!

Honorable Mentions
Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club

Here are a couple of the cases in point I was speaking of earlier. Each of these soundtracks had that one really great song, but both lacked depth of quality, in my opinion.

The Pretty in Pink soundtrack had a few good songs on it, but none that really caused any movement on the charts, save for one. "If You Leave" by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, better known as OMD, was a huge hit in 1986. When I hear that song visions of Molly Ringwald dance around in my head.

Other notable songs on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack were "Positively Lost Me" by The Rave-Ups, "Pretty in Pink" by The Psychedelic Furs and "Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding, which was actually not on the original soundtrack. They had to add that one in after Jon Cryer done such a good lip-synching job in the movie. One of the classic scenes of the 80's.

The Breakfast Club soundtrack was huge for one reason and one reason only. The Simple Minds "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was an absolute smash in '86. So much so, the stars of the film got together with the band and shot a video for it. Great song, great movie.

The Big Chill

Here is the complete opposite case of the previous two soundtracks. The Big Chill soundtrack was chocked full of one great song after another. The only reason this soundtrack is this far down the list is, the songs are just about all from a different era than the decade of the 80's. I'm pretty sure none of the songs charted due to this soundtrack, but they were all huge hits in the '60's and '70's.

Notable songs on this soundtrack, which by the way can be left on to play all day if need be, are:

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones
"Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin
"Good Lovin'" by The Rascals
"In The Midnight Hour" by The Rascals
"When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge
"Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys
"Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
"Gimme Some Lovin'" by The Spencer Davis Group
"Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night
"Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by The Temptations
"My Girl" by The Temptations
"I Second That Emotion" by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
"I Heard it Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye
"A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procul Harum.

See, I told ya. Almost the entire album.

Valley Girl

Valley Girl's soundtrack had one decent song, one good song and one hugely fantastic song.

The decent song was "Johnny Are You Queer?" by Josie Cotton. It was more a novelty song than anything, but still was pretty good. The good song was "A Million Miles Away" by The Plimsouls and has become somewhat of a cult classic, as has the band.

The one HUGELY fantastic song was "Melt With You" by Modern English. Many people today relate this song with Burger King and that's sad. This song was THE New Wave romance song of the 80's. "Melt With You" is one of my personal favorite songs of all time and that's even with the tarnished image of the creepy Burger King guy in my head.

Beverly Hills Cop

You might not know it, but this soundtrack had four pretty big hits come out in 1984. This soundtrack kinda took me by surprise as I was comprising this list. I knew it had that funky sounding instrumental that hit the charts, but I had almost forgotten about the other three songs.

First let's get to that funky instrumental. "Axl F", which was simply named after the lead character in the movie, played by Eddie Murphy. It was all music, no words. Not so easy feat to hit the charts with no words to sing, but Harold Faltermeyer done just that with his magic keyboard and boost from the blockbuster movie.

The other three songs off the soundtrack all charted pretty high and helped this soundtrack to be one of the biggest sellers of 1984. They, in no particular order are:

"Neutron Dance" by The Pointer Sisters
"New Attitude" by Patti LaBelle
"The Heat is On" by Glenn Frye.

Top Gun

This soundtrack was anchored down by two pretty big love songs, one manly action packed song and a pair of classic 60's songs.

The two classic song on the soundtrack were:

"(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay" by the late great Otis Redding

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers. Who can ever forget Tom Cruise and his fellow Top Guns using the Righteous Brothers to try and pick up women?

Kenny Loggins had a fairly big hit with the fast paced "Danger Zone", which was perfect for this movie about fighter jets. It's kinda hard to see a fighter jet in action now without hearing this song in the back of your head.

The two biggest hits from this soundtrack came with this first of two great love songs. Loverboy slowed it down just long enough to belt out "Heaven in Your Eyes", proving Loverboy could chart two hit slow songs in a row, after also charting in '86 with "This Could Be the Night".

The second love song was the biggest hit off the soundtrack. "Take My Breath Away" introduced most of world to Berlin, who was fronted by the very pretty Terri Nunn and her trademark multi-colored hair. Great song for the ladies and the men had the added bonus of looking at Terri Nunn sing it.


"Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya to Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama."

This soundtrack and The Beach Boys gave us all a lesson in Carribean Island geography. If not for The Beach Boys HUGE comeback hit "Kokomo" I probably never would have known some of these islands existed.

Another song off this soundtrack was big for being minimal. Bobby McFerrin had his breakout hit singing "Don't Worry Be Happy" which was strange for it's lack of music instruments. McFerrin not only sung the song but made every music like sound using just his body.

Robert Palmer had the third HUGE hit from this album with "Addicted to Love". Although the song was a gigantic hit, it was the video that people waiting in front of their televisions with anticipation. Palmer had a bunch of manequin looking models standing around lip synching, dancing and pretending to play instruments. Thanks Robert, all of us hormone driven teenage boys owe you a debt of gratitude.

One other notable song was on this soundtrack. "The Hippie Hippie Shake" was a minor hit for The Georgia Satellites.


Starting with this soundtrack at the #5 position, it's my opinion, there was a fairly big gap coming from #6 to here. These next 5 were easily picked as the top 5, but it was hard choosing which order to put them in.

The Flashdance soundtrack could easily be #1 in some people's opinions and it would be hard to argue against it. The soundtrack charted two huge #1 hits with Michael Sembello's "Maniac" and Irene Cara's "Flashdance...What a Feeling".

Other songs from the movie include:

"Gloria" by Laura Branigan
"Manhunt" by Karen Kamon
"I Love Rock n Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Dirty Dancing

The Dirty Dancing soundtrack was mixed with just the right ratio of classic 60's song to new 80's songs. Classic songs included:

"Be My Baby" by The Ronettes
"In the Still of the Night" by The Five Satins
"Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons
"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by The Shirelles
"Do You Love Me" by The Contours
"Some Kind of Wonderful" by The Drifters
"Wipeout" by The Surfaris.

It was, however, the soundtrack's more up to date hits that made this soundtrack reach this high on the list. Eric Carmen had a big hit with "Hungry Eyes". Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes had what very well could have been the hit of the year with "(I've Had) The Time of My Life". Even the movies star, Patrick Swayze got in on the act with, the surprisingly good, "She's Like the Wind".

Purple Rain

These last three were very interchangeable. I had a very tough time dropping this soundtrack to #3. Very easily could have been #1. This soundtrack was so huge, the movie was just an add on and a vehicle for the songs. That's saying quite a bit, too, considering the movie was not half bad.

First, songs which were in the movie, but not on the soundtrack by Morris Day and The Time need to be mentioned. I know they aren't officially on the soundtrack, but they still were part of the movie and helped bolster this ranking. "Jungle Love" and "The Bird" were two very good songs from Morris Day.

However, this was Prince's movie and this was definitely Prince's soundtrack. Each of the following songs were just as great as the other in their own way. This group of songs, probably more than any other of Prince's collections, are what made people realize the guy was a musical genius. I'll start from side A and take you through each hit.

"Let's Go Crazy"
"Take Me With U"
"Darling Nikki"
"When Doves Cry"
"I Would Die 4 U"
"Purple Rain"

Hell, that's not a great soundtrack. That would be a great career for most ordinary musicians. Then again, Prince is not an ordinary musician. As stated before, the man's a musical genius.


Wow!!! This soundtrack was awesome!!! Where do I start? I guess with the title track.

Kenny Loggins had a blockbuster on his hands with "Footloose". Singing this great song to kick the soundtrack off really got the ball rolling. Next came:

"Let's Hear it for the Boy" by Denise Williams
"Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson
"Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler
"Dancing in the Sheets" by Shalamar
"(I'm Free) Heaven Helps the Man" by Kenny Loggins
"Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" by Quiet Riot
"Hurts So Good" by John Mellancamp
"Waiting For a Girl Like You" by Foreigner.

Like I said.......Wow!!! Just put the soundtrack in and let it go.

Last American Virgin

This is my #1 for several reasons. First and foremost is the quality of the songs on the soundtrack. From one to the other it is full of great songs, not just good songs. Secondly, I don't think there was ever a movie that made better use of each song within the context of the scenes they showed up in. Almost every song on this soundtrack was perfect for the scenes they were in. Whoever had that job deserves a cookie or something. Let's to the list of great songs.

"Oh No" by The Commodores
"Whip It" by Devo
"Open Arms" by Journey
"Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon
"I Will Follow" by U2
"I Know What Boys Like" by The Waitresses
"De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" by The Police
"Just Once" by James Ingram
"Are You Ready For the Sex Girls?" by Gleaming Spires
"That's the Way (I Like It)" KC and The Sunshine Band
"Better Luck Next Time" by Oingo Boingo
"Since You're Gone" by The Cars
"Shake It Up" by The Cars
"In the Flesh" by Blondie.

Perfect. From beginning to end, perfect. As I stated before, each of these songs showed up at the most opportune times within the context of the movie, to boot. The other songs not listed were perfect in their spots also, just not the hits these listed songs were.

Well, I hope you liked the list. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

I'll be typin' at ya later,
Bob the Blogger