Best Movie Songs: The Most Iconic Pop Songs In Films

Many a chart hit has come off the back of a movie appearance. From Simple Minds to Stevie Wonder, we present some of the best songs in films.

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What are some of the best movie songs? Well, we’re talking about a lineage that started in the mid-40s through to the 60s, when Hollywood musicals revelled in a golden age, bequeathing the world a host of songs that remain firmly lodged in the public consciousness – Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” from Holiday Inn, The Sound of Music‘s “Edelweiss,” Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dkye singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Judy Garland’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz. Concurrent with this, with the likes of Blackboard Jungle and Jailhouse Rock, the rock’n’roll movie was born in the 50s; in the following decade, The Beatles elevated the genre to an art form, first with A Hard Day’s Night, later with Help! For the new generation, both featured some of the best songs in films up to that point.

The point is: music and the movies have long had a symbiotic relationship, and in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, many a pop hit came off the back of its iconic use in a cinematic smash. Leaving aside musicals the likes of Grease, and updates on the rock and pop star vehicle, such as Prince’s Purple Rain or Spice GirlsSpiceworld, the charts are littered with classic singles that rode high on the back of their use in box office hits.

From Simple Minds to Stevie Wonder, we pick just a few of the best songs in films. Think we missed one? Let us know in the comments below.

Yello: Oh Yeah (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986)

Such is its ubiquity, it’s hard to imagine a time when Yello’s electro-pop classic didn’t exist (the song has been featured in everything from movies to TV shows and confectionery adverts). Equally, it’s hard to imagine a song more fitting for the moment when Ferris Bueller decides to commandeer his best friend’s dad’s car… (The film also made judicious use of The Beatles’ “Twist And Shout,” introducing a whole new generation to one of the Fabs’ finest early outings on record.)

Yello - Oh Yeah (Official Video)

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Bee Gees: Stayin’ Alive (Saturday Night Fever, 1977)

The film that introduced disco to a wider world and made a star of John Travolta also featured a welter of hits that ensured the Bee Gees dominated the charts in 1977. “More Than A Woman,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” and “Night Fever” – along with a number of non-Bee Gees classics of the era, such as KC And The Sunshine Band’s “You Should Be Dancing” and The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” – all made their mark, but the decision to soundtrack John Travolta’s opening-scene walk with “Stayin’ Alive” was a masterstroke that made carrying paint, stuffing your face with pizza and checking out the shoes – and the ladies – seem like the perfect way to slack off work. One of the best uses of a song in a movie ever.

Huey Lewis And The News: The Power Of Love (Back To The Future, 1985)

Soundtracking an altogether different journey through the streets, “The Power Of Love” helped Back To The Future encourage countless teens to hitch rides from unsuspecting drivers – perfect if you can’t really skateboard, but also a highly dangerous way to travel. The movie was known for its use of songs, including a stirring rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

Simple Minds: Don’t You (Forget About Me) (The Breakfast Club, 1985)

A rare coming-of-age drama that transcends its era and speaks to all generations, The Breakfast Club’s memorable closing scene, in which five high-school students leave their Saturday detention having asserted their individuality – and perhaps found themselves in the process – remains one of the best uses of a song in a movie ever filmed. It made stars of the young actors dubbed The Brat Pack and ensured that Simple Minds’ non-album single went down in history as a generation-defining slice of synth-pop.

Berlin: Take My Breath Away (Top Gun, 1986)

Co-written by Giorgio Moroder and performed by LA syth-pop outfit Berlin, “Take My Breath Away” played no small part in turning Tom Cruise into a global heartthrob. Initially soundtracking Cruise and co-star Kelly McGillis’ sexually charged argument, it eventually provided the soundbed for their, er, bed… antics. The song subsequently saw out the remainder of the decade topping the list of many a newlywed couple’s first-dance picks.

Top Gun • Take My Breath Away • Berlin

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U2: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me; Seal: Kiss From A Rose (Batman Forever, 1995)

Ever since Prince recorded an entire album for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie, the franchise has had the power to push its soundtrack music to the top of the charts. Batman Forever boasted a collection stuffed with cuts from artists as varied as PJ Harvey, Method Man, and Massive Attack. Undoubtedly, however, it was U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” and Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” that came out on top in 1995. Both the movie and the songs were unavoidable throughout that summer, with the tunes racing to the upper echelons of the charts in the UK, US, Australia, and beyond.

U2 - Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me - Batman Forever

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Bryan Adams: (Everything I Do) I Do It For You (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, 1991)

Spending a record-breaking 16 straight weeks at the top of the UK charts and seven at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, Bryan Adams’ indefatigable “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” owed at least some of its ubiquity to its use in the summer 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood. It was subsequently nominated for an Oscar, and went so far as to win the Grammy for Best Song Written Specifically For A Motion Picture Or Television at the 1992 awards ceremony. An odd footnote to the single’s globe-straddling success is that, in the UK, it was eventually knocked off the top spot by a cover of Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy,” recorded by cult comedian Vic Reeves, in league with Midlands indie rockers The Wonder Stuff.

Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You

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Stevie Wonder: I Just Called To Say I Love You (The Woman In Red, 1984)

Released during comic actor Gene Wilder’s seemingly unstoppable assault on the box office, The Woman In Red might now be a largely forgotten period romantic comedy, but its soundtrack was a Stevie Wonder-helmed affair that included his global smash title track. Wonder’s only UK No.1 hit, “I Just Called To Say I Love You” topped the charts across the globe and picked up an Oscar for Best Original Song.

Blondie: Call Me (American Gigolo, 1980)

What better way to open a movie in which Richard Gere plays a high-class male escort than with Debbie Harry’s alternately sultry and predatory vocals on “Call Me”? A masterclass in Blondie’s new wave-pop crossover, the song also helped give the LA setting a bit of New York grit, while the film established Richard Gere as a fearless lead, not least for baring all on camera in one of the world’s first full-frontal nudity scenes.

Roy Orbison: Oh, Pretty Woman (Pretty Woman, 1990)

A decade later, the tables had turned for the 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman, in which Richard Gere played a businessman who ends up infatuated with a prostitute (as played by Julia Roberts). Using Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” was a masterstroke: The Big O was at the forefront of many fans’ minds in the years immediately after his death and the song’s playful twang and emotive vocals were the perfect accompaniment to Roberts’ transformation.

Dusty Springfield: Son Of A Preacher Man (Pulp Fiction, 1994)

With 1992’s Reservoir Dogs and 1994’s Pulp Fiction, writer-director Quentin Tarantino proved himself a crate-digging fanboy whose love of music almost eclipsed his love of movies. In the latter film, his iconoclastic use of Dusty Springfield’s “Son Of A Preacher Man” introduced the world to the pairing of Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace (John Travolta and Uma Thurman), a song that perfectly set up one of the most memorable scenes of 90s cinema.

Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds: Good Morning (Singin’ in the Rain, 1952)

Debbie Reynolds once called this scene the toughest moment of her life: Just 16 when she was cast, she was performing a song and dance with two of the greatest hoofers in the movies. But she handles it beautifully and the number is pure joy (though Reynolds’ vocal was actually dubbed). – Brett Milano

Marilyn Monroe: Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend (Gentleman Prefer Blondes, 1953)

Though Carol Channing introduced this number on Broadway, Marilyn Monroe’s movie performance was the iconic one: It’s totally glamorous and totally Marilyn. The song took up permanent residence in pop culture. Divas from Eartha Kitt to Beyonce (in a perfume commercial) to Christina Aguilera all performed it. More recently Megan Thee Stallion sampled it in “Diamonds,” a half-century after the original. – Brett Milano

Billie Holiday: Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans (New Orleans, 1947)

This has become one of the most timeless songs about the Crescent City, though the movie didn’t have quite the same impact – despite the musical star power of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Intended to be a serious film about jazz, it somehow turned into a much fluffier romance. Nonetheless, the song continues to be covered today, with performances by Alison Krauss, Fats Domino, and Jimmy Buffett. – Brett Milano

Isaac Hayes: Shaft (Shaft, 1971)

Blaxploitation’s finest hour, with Isaac Hayes giving a funky spin to the high-suspense formula of secret agent theme music. Charles’ Pitts’ wah-wah guitar provided the main hook, with the music building for two minutes before Hayes even sang. Some radio stations banned it, just because of that naughty word he doesn’t actually say. – Brett Milano

Theme From Shaft (Remastered 2009)

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Bruce Springsteen: Streets of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1994)

It took a dead serious movie to bring The Boss into the soundtrack world. Jonathan Demme’s film was one of the first to examine the toll of AIDS, and Springsteen’s song is a dark character study that harks back to Nebraska and fits well with the Ghost of Tom Joad material from this era. Though hardly an obviously commercial record, it was one of Springsteen’s biggest singles, going Top Ten and winning the Best Original Song Oscar and four Grammy Awards. – Brett Milano

Simon & Garfunkel: Mrs. Robinson (The Graduate, 1967)

While this Number One song is forever associated with the movie, you won’t actually hear it there: Paul Simon hadn’t finished the song when Mike Nichols wrapped the film, so it appears only in a few half-sung snippets – he did however change the name in the song for the movie’s sake. (It was originally “Mrs. Roosevelt”). Though The Graduate is one of the ultimate 60s counterculture films, Simon’s song winds up treating the character more sympathetically than the movie does. – Brett Milano

Dolly Parton: Nine to Five (Nine to Five, 1980)

This movie theme was one of Dolly Parton’s first, and well-deserved, crossover pop hits. It was upbeat enough to be a perfect match for the film, which was a very 80s mix of righteous protest and screwball comedy. The movie was one of Parton’s first starring roles, appearing alongside Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, all giving workplace sexism what it deserved. – Brett Milano

Whitney Houston: I Will Always Love You (The Bodyguard, 1994)

You have to wonder why a song this iconic took nearly 20 years to become a classic. Sure, Whitney Houston was a great singer, but so were Linda Ronstadt and songwriter Dolly Parton, both of whom cut it in the 70s. Most likely it was the mix of elements – a heart-tugging song, a movie with a key romantic scene, and Houston’s sterling voice – that put this one over the top. – Brett Milano

The Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody (Ghost, 1990)

Is it possible to hear this song without seeing Demi Moore at a pottery wheel? “Unchained Melody” was a Top Ten hit 15 years before the movie, but Ghost gave it new life in a big way. In fact, the original, Phil Spector-produced “Melody” became such a sensation that the Righteous Brothers (actually Bobby Hatfield, the Brother who sang this one solo) cut a new version to compete, making it the only time in pop history when the same artist was in the Top 20 with two different recordings of the same song. – Brett Milano

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Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes: (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Dirty Dancing, 1987)

Bobby Hatfield had his big solo turn on “Unchained Melody,” but his Righteous partner Bill Medley got a moment of glory on this Dirty Dancing hit, which mashed up the eras by using a familiar 60s voice and glitzy disco-era production. Used as the climactic production number in the movie, it also gave a last pop hit to Jennifer Warnes. The nostalgic sweetness of both the song and the movie struck gold in 1987. – Brett Milano

Carly Simon: Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)

Nobody does sexual innuendo like James Bond, and thanks to the permissive vibe of the late 70s, this just may be the sexiest of all the Bond themes; Carly Simon certainly sounds like she’s having the time of her life. Fittingly it was written by a real-life couple, composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, who went on to write a hit Broadway musical, They’re Playing Our Song, based on their relationship. – Brett Milano

Steppenwolf: Born to Be Wild (Easy Rider, 1969)

Dennis Hopper’s movie Easy Rider had a powerful impact on 60s counterculture. It gave the Woodstock generation a reality check, with its dark story of one rebel against the world. Most of the songs on the soundtrack, like this Steppenwolf tune, had already been hits, but they gained new resonance via their iconic uses in the film. – Brett Milano

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Harry Nilsson: Everybody’s Talkin’ (Midnight Cowboy, 1969)

One of the great ironies of Harry Nilsson’s career is that he was a master songwriter, but his two breakthrough hits, this Fred Neil tune and Badfinger’s “Without You,” were songs he didn’t write. But the mood he gives the song – manly, sensitive, and world-weary – are just right for Dustin Hoffman’s character in the film. Too bad the teens who brought the record couldn’t see the movie. (It was one of the first mainstream hits to get an X rating.) – Brett Milano

Tex Ritter/ Frankie Laine: High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’) (High Noon, 1952)

Some of the greatest movie themes can capture the plot and the atmosphere of a film within a single song. This Western theme was a perfect example, telling more than you’d ever want to know about how it feels to be just hours away from a life-or-death gunfight. The song was so popular that two versions charted around the same type: Tex Ritter’s was spookier (and used a prototype synthesizer), but Frankie Laine really got inside the character, with a few retouched lyrics (“I must face a man who hates me”) that brought the story to life. – Brett Milano

Adriana Caselotti: Someday My Prince Will Come (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)

One of the first great Disney songs, this ballad was beautifully voiced by a Connecticut-born opera singer who didn’t manage to go onto stardom, making offscreen appearances in only three films afterward. The song however went onto become a jazz standard: Dave Brubeck broke the ice on an album of Disney songs and it’s since been done by a handful of greats, from Miles Davis in the 60s to Melody Gardot in 2009. – Brett Milano

BJ Thomas: Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, 1969)

This Bacharach/David masterpiece lent the right devil-may-care note to one of the classic Western caper films. BJ Thomas only got the song after Ray Stevens turned it down, but it was a Number One for Thomas and went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song. Of the many cover versions out there, Bobbie Gentry’s is especially sweet. – Brett Milano

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band: Old Time Rock and Roll (Risky Business, 1983)

This is one of those songs forever tied to a movie scene; you hear the intro and you see Tom Cruise strutting his stuff. It was the fourth and last single from Bob Seger’s Stranger in Town album, and a song Seger didn’t think was a hit. When he heard the tune from cowriter George Jackson, he liked it but thought it needed work, so he wrote all the verse lyrics himself. Not expecting it to be a single, he didn’t bother taking credit – a move he later called “the dumbest thing I ever did.” – Brett Milano

Old Time Rock & Roll

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Audrey Hepburn: Moon River (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961)

A milestone from Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, this poetic song tells you all need to know about being a dreamer. Hepburn introduced the song in character, but more famous versions were cut by Andy Williams and silky soul voice Jerry Butler. Even R.E.M. has done a version. (The band members said they loved the song for its Southern imagery.) – Brett Milano

Iggy Pop: Lust for Life (Trainspotting, 1996)

The idea of Iggy Pop having a mainstream hit with this song – or any other song – seemed pretty farfetched when he and David Bowie recorded music during their decadent Berlin period. But the film Trainspotting made druggy decadence fashionable, and Iggy was the perfect musical match. The song got a new lease on life and has since wound up in cruise-ship commercials. – Brett Milano

Julie Andrews: My Favorite Things (The Sound of Music, 1965)

The Sound of Music produced an impressive number of classic songs with this, the title song, “Climb Every Mountain,” and “Do-Re-Mi” all ranking with the best loved movie songs of all time. “My Favorite Things” has been covered hundreds of times, most famously and gloriously by John Coltrane. It’s even become a de facto Christmas song in recent years, but in the movie it’s sung to calm the childrens’ nerves during a thunderstorm. – Brett Milano

Prince: Purple Rain (Purple Rain, 1984)

Nothing could stop Prince in 1984. An intense live version of “Purple Rain” was the finale of the film, and of many Prince shows for decades to come. In the movie, Prince’s character repents for his ego-tripping ways by giving his bandmates Wendy and Lisa credit for writing the song. But Prince actually did write it, with Wendy Melvoin giving some chordal help. – Brett Milano

Christopher Cross: Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) (Arthur, 1981)

It took a dream team of four writers to write this Christopher Cross hit: Cross had a hand in it, along with Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sayer, and Peter Allen (the latter’s main contribution was apparently the New York City line). For all that, the song has an easy elegance that’s unmistakably Bacharach.The lyrics reference Dudley Moore’s title character. – Brett Milano

The Beach Boys: Heroes & Villains (The Fantastic Mr. Fox, 2009)

Many of Brian Wilson’s vintage songs seem tailor-made for fantastical and surreal movies. Wes Anderson’s animated movie was exactly that. He sets the atmosphere for the film by using the remixed “Heroes & Villains,” complete with choral intro, from the Smile album. – Brett Milano

Heroes And Villains (Stereo Mix/2011 Smile Version)

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Kermit The Frog: The Rainbow Connection (The Muppet Movie, 1979)

“The Rainbow Connection” was an important song in the Muppets’ world: It opened the first Muppet movie, and introduced Kermit the Frog as a more fleshed-out character. Accordingly, the song made him a likable dreamer and an Everyman (or Everyfrog). The song was written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher – the former’s’ hitmaking career is relatively well known, but Ascher has many diverse credits of his own, including arranging the strings on John Lennon’s “Mind Games” and briefly playing keys with James Brown. – Brett Milano

Doris Day: Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) (The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956)

This Livingston/Evans tune became so popular that the title phrase went into the vernacular. It originated in an early Hitchcock thriller, in which costar Doris Day plays a retired lounge singer. She cut another hit version in 1964 and recorded it a few more times in her long career; hit cover versions include a fine but unlikely one by Sly & the Family Stone. – Brett Milano

Noel Harrison: The Windmills of Your Mind (The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968)

This 1968 piece was perhaps the first mainstream, non-rock movie theme to show the influence of psychedelia, especially in Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s decidedly trippy lyrics. (There was in fact a rough cut of the film that instead used “Strawberry Fields Forever” in the opening scene.) Noel Harrison, son of actor Rex, did vocal honors in the film, but the greatest version has to be the one on Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis. – Brett Milano

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (Shall We Dance, 1937)

This Gershwin Brothers tune evinces the romantic charm that 1930s musicals were all about, and is also a subtle sendup of class differences: Astaire insists their affair will never work out because he pronounces words in a more refined way. You know that love will prevail, though, when they break into a dance midway through… on roller skates no less. – Brett Milano

Joe Cocker/Jennifer Warnes: Up Where We Belong (An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982)

Though this song hit in 1982, it’s surprising how many 60s legends were connected with it. For starters, folk legend Buffy Sainte-Marie cowrote it with Jack Nitzsche and Will Jennings (of Steve Winwood fame). It was an out-of-character ballad for both duet partners: Joe Cocker usually preferred harder R&B, while Jennifer Warnes normally gravitated to Leonard Cohen and other art songs. For all that, it was the first Number One hit for them both. – Brett Milano

Yusuf/Cat Stevens: If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (Harold And Maude, 1971)

The songwriter Yusuf, then known as Cat Stevens, was the perfect choice to score an offbeat romance that celebrated individuality. Director Hal Ashby’s first choice was actually Elton John, but Stevens delivered with some of his most heartfelt songs. The joyful “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” was one of two that he wrote specifically for the film; we first hear it sung by Ruth Gordon as Maude, and Cat’s version is the film’s reassuring postscript. – Brett Milano

If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (Demo)

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Bill Conti: Gonna Fly Now (Rocky, 1976)

This largely instrumental theme is vintage disco at its most rousing. Since Stallone’s movie takes place in Philadelphia, Conti’s piece is a dead ringer for the Philly soul sound of Thom Bell and MFSB. It remains a big sports anthem, especially in that city. – Brett Milano

Andy Williams: The Days of Wine and Roses (The Days of Wine & Roses, 1962)

This is a contender for the most gorgeously sad song on this list – but not as sad as the film itself, which looked unflinchingly at alcoholism. Both Henry Mancini’s tune and Johnny Mercer’s lyrics (which are just two sentences long) are appropriately soaked in regret. Mercer and Mancini won the Oscar for Best Original Song and Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. – Brett Milano

Elton John: Can You Feel the Love Tonight & Circle of Life (The Lion King, 1994)

These were the two hit singles from The Lion King, which provided Elton John with one of his many comebacks. Working with lyricist Tim Rice (who first collaborated with Elton on the 80s album Jump Up!), they capture the spirit of a modern Disney classic while sounding unmistakably like Elton John songs. Elton went on to do more soundtracks, including a full musical with Rice (Aida) and his first instrumental score for Albert Brooks’ The Muse. – Brett Milano

Elton John - Can You Feel the Love Tonight (From "The Lion King"/Official Video)

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The Beach Boys: Kokomo (Cocktail, 1988)

After a number of lean years, the Beach Boys suddenly reappeared on the charts with a smash movie theme that added some obvious Jimmy Buffett influence to their sound. It was a last hurrah on the charts for 60s music figures John Phillips (of the Mamas & the Papas), Scott MacKenzie, and Terry Melcher, all of whom cowrote the tune with Beach Boy Mike Love. – Brett Milano

Eminem: Lose Yourself (8 Mile, 2002)

8 Mile was effectively Eminem’s Purple Rain, a slightly fictionalized version of his own story that fully established him as a superstar. Like Prince’s film, it peaked with a dramatic musical number that resolved the story. “Lose Yourself” was a big step for Eminem, hs first mainstream Number One and a song that proved Slim Shady could do positivity without dropping his guard. – Brett Milano

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper: Shallow (A Star Is Born, 2018)

Every Star Is Born needs a memorable song. Judy Garland got the original title song, Barbra Streisand had “Evergreen,” but Lady Gaga arguably outdid them both with “Shallow.” The song recurs at pivotal moments in the career and romance of Gaga and Cooper’s characters; the climactic live version is one of the more emotive power ballads you’ll ever hear. – Brett Milano

Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper - Shallow (from A Star Is Born) (Official Music Video)

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Gene Pitney: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962)

This tense and tough song is a perfect match with the John Wayne Western, save for one small thing: It’s not actually in the movie. Director John Ford rejected the song after Burt Bacharach and Hal David submitted it, because it committed the mortal sin of giving too much of the story away. Even so, the song hit the charts while the film was in theaters, so most audiences knew the plot twist going in. – Brett Milano

Johnny Horton: North to Alaska (North to Alaska, 1960)

Another theme for a John Wayne film, this song also gave away a lot of the plot – but it still appeared in the film under the opening credits. It’s a perfect earworm with just a touch of camp; you’ve got to love the background singers yelling “mush!” throughout. – Brett Milano

Kendrick Lamar and SZA: All The Stars (Black Panther, 2018)

This blockbuster superhero film produced one of the spliashier musical collaborations of 2018, and their contrasting styles work remarkably well together. Lamar provides the street-tough rap and the Vocoded verses; SZA’s vocal soars on the big anthemic hook. – Brett Milano

Kendrick Lamar, SZA - All The Stars

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Lana Del Rey: Young and Beautiful (The Great Gatsby, 2013)

Given her theatrical persona, it was only a matter of time before Lana Del Rey had a hit movie theme. She didn’t tone down her style for the occasion, “Young and Beautiful” is just as gorgeously decadent as anything on her studio albums. – Brett Milano

Judy Garland: Somewhere Over the Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

This tune by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Yip Harburg may just be the most iconic movie song of them all. Everybody knows and loves this tune, which Judy Garland originally sang at age 17 (she re-recorded it many times). Never mind the struggles of Garland’s later life; in the minds of movie song lovers, she’ll always be Dorothy. – Brett Milano

Looking for more? Check out our list of the best movie theme songs ever.



  1. Debbie

    August 29, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    “Ain’t No Sunshine” in Notting Hill beautifully illustrates time passing as William Thacker walks down the street while the seasons change so you know his is still thinking of Anna Scott for the entire year. Also the song that plays when William realizes he has been “a stupid git” and goes to talk to Anna (after the “I’m just a girl” scene) is perfect and adds to the fun of the road trip with his friends.

  2. Bryan

    August 6, 2023 at 5:41 am

    Goodbye Horses from Silence of the Lambs.

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