Totally Awesome 80s Movie Music

About a year ago, I made it my mission, every Saturday night to a watch 80s film each week. Throughout this experience, I have seen some amazing films, as well as a few films that were kind of crappy (seriously, why the hell did I watch Porky’s)? But amazing, or crappy, one thing I’ve noticed, there’s something special about 80s movie music. With that in mind, I want to talk about a few movies and the music they gave us.

Before we begin – this is not a best of list. “Totally Awesome 80s Movie Music” is a rough list that may or may not include some of the best songs from 80s movies. This list is also not in any particular order. The first entry on “Totally Awesome 80s Movie Music” may or may not be just as good/bad as any other entry on this list. With all that said, pop some popcorn and let’s get to it!

Get ready for totally awesome 80s movie music
Popcorn, get your popcorn!

Batman gave us Batdance

Most of the songs (penned and performed by Prince) on the soundtrack for Batman (1989) are just ok. There is, however, one song that stands out – Batdance! Batdance is essentially 6 minutes of mixed sound clips, related vocals, and funky, funky grooves. Batdance is so unlike any other Prince song I had heard at the time, I questioned if it was even a Prince song. Oh, but there is no mistaking the guitars and vocals of The Purple One. With appearances from such classic Jack Nicholson (as the Joker) lines like “Ever Dance With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight,” and even “This town needs an Enema,” Batdance is a weird, weird mix. I wish Prince had written more songs like Batdance.

Limahl tells a never ending story

The movie The NeverEnding Story is in the top ten of my favorite childhood movies. I love the movie so much, I’m taking off work in a few months when it’s released in theaters again. As much as the movie strays from the books, it’s still pretty much perfect. And the song of the same name? Just as perfect. When I listen to Limahl’s magical vocals sing The Never Ending Story, I feel a kind of hope, excitement, and pure fantasy – all the emotions I feel when watching the movie.

I am not the only one who feels this way about (the song) The NeverEnding Story. My first girlfriend in high school played the song so much, her brother flushed the tape down the toilet (I wonder what the plumber thought). If you’re a fan of Stranger Things, you’ll know that Dustin and his long distance Girlfriend also like the song. Ok, ok, Dustin and his girlfriend are fictional characters, but this nod to the song in the Netflix series only shows how much love the song deserves.

By the way, the song “Ivory Tower” also from the NeverEnding Story soundtrack is pretty amazing as well!

The Breakfast Club doesn’t forget about us

Is there any 80s move ending more iconic than that of The Breakfast Club? When the five students go their separate ways, and Don’t You Forget About Me plays while the credits role? We don’t know what will happen Monday. Will the five’s bond be a lasting thing, or will they all just go their separate ways? Will you call my name – or will you walk away?

Every time I hear Don’t You Forget About Me, I feel a sense of duty. A duty to remember that we are not just our peer groups. Saturday detention might have been an eye opener, but Monday morning is when true change happens.

Ghostbusters!

I don’t even have to hear the theme from Ghostbusters to get the song stuck my head. And the theme for Ghostbusters can live in my head rent free all it wants. Is there something strange in your neighborhood? Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Top Gun takes our breath away on a highway to the danger zone

Top Gun came out in 1986. Yeah, I was 12 years old; the scene where Maverick and Charlie are fighting and then – uhhh – doing the opposite of fighting fueled my adolescent mind for months. I’m pretty sure most people my age, if asked, would say the same thing. To this day, every time I hear Berlin’s Take My Breathe away playing over the scene I need a cold shower.

Top Gun also had the most fearless song ever written – Highway to the Danger Zone. Performed by Kenny Loggins of all people. Seriously, Loggins was known for his sweet, simple ballads that belong on a yacht rock playlist. The dude wrote Heart to Heart a mere four years earlier! Loggins went from singing in falsetto about trying to save a failing relationship, to singing about flying into battle with a frigging jet fighter! What a switch!

St. Elmo’s Fire – two songs with the same name

Remember the movie Reality Bites? Make the setting about ten years earlier, and you get the movie St. Elmo’s Fire. Both movies are about a bunch of privileged kids who just graduated college, and now they’re trying to figure out what to do with their lives. Both movies have pretty great songs as well. Though instead of Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” St. Elmo’s Fire gives us (Love Theme From) St. Elmo’s Fire and St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion).

(Love Theme From) St. Elmo’s Fire has two versions, one with lyrics, and one without. The version with lyrics is kind of boring, so I won’t talk about that one. The instrumental, however, is arguably the best instrumental in any 80s film (well, maybe tied with Axel F). Three phrases to describe the love theme: dreamlike, sentimental, and heart warming.

Couple “Love Theme” with “Man in Motion” – Man in Motion, is a pumped up, power rock song that should probably play every hour on the hour at every gym in the world. Man in Motion hypes the listener to such levels of power, strength, and perseverance – the listener could probably fight Rocky. If you ever need to light a fire under your ass, listen to Man in Motion.

Dirty Dancing – one movie, three amazing songs

Laced in between a soundtrack full of early 60s classics like Be My Baby by the Ronettes, sits three songs that define the movie Dirty Dancing: She’s Like the Wind (Patrick Swayze), Hungry Eyes (Eric Carmen), and I’ve had the Time of My Life (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes). No pop radio station of 1986 could escape these three songs.

The lesser of the three is certainly She’s Like the Wind – but saying this song is lesser to the other two is like saying strawberry ice cream is lesser than chocolate cake and tiramisu. Strawberry ice cream is still delicious, and She’s Like the Wind is still totally awesome. Patrick Swayze may have put his acting career above his singing career, but She’s Like the Wind makes me wish he had recorded more songs.

Next we have chocolate cake, err, the song Hungry Eyes. Wow. What can I say about this song? I remember blaring this on my headphones as I rode my bike to the park. I’m pretty sure I called the radio station (from a payphone) and requested this song more than once. Elation. That is the only word I can use to describe this song when I heard it in the 80s. I still feel that elation when I hear Hungry Eyes now.

Ok, let’s talk about the showstopper from Dirty Dancing. I’ve Had the Time of My Life won both a grammy and an Oscar. But more importantly, I’ve Had the Time of My Life was the cumulation of the entire film. Baby and Johnny dance, despite the objections of the uptight 1960s parents, yadda yadda yadda, that’s not important. What’s important is the feeling of the audience – and the feeling was good. The audience walked out of the theater or turned off their VCRs with a big grin on their face. If any other song had been used, I’m not sure we would have gotten the same feeling.

More totally awesome 80s movie music

I could probably name 50 movies to add to this list. 80s movie music was really was special. I already mentioned Axel F from Beverly Hills Cop. I alluded to Eye of the Tiger from Rocky. Here’s a list of honorable mentions: Oh Yeah from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Footloose from Footloose, Fame from Fame, What A Feeling and Maniac from Flashdance, Glory of Love from The Karate Kid II, Kokomo from Cocktail, Holiday Road from National Lampoon’s Vacation, 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton, We don’t Need Another Hero from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

I’ll stop there. I could probably go on forever, but instead, I’ll make a playlist. Be on the lookout for said playlist within the next two weeks. Until then, rock on and rock steady! And keep being totally awesome!

Scroll to Top