The ’80s had some great blockbuster movies that were sure to please even the most hard-pressed movie critics. However, the music of the ’80s was even more impressive than the decade’s films, as the decade saw the rise of many music stars that are still in popular favor today in the 21st century.
With a multitude of outstanding musicians, the decade of excess resulted in a slew of hits that directors would clamor over to have in their films. The blending of the fantastic sounds of the ’80s mixed with the great stories of ’80s cinema made for an awesome decade of movie soundtracks.
10 Risky Business
Using a blend of original songs by synth-heavy group Tangerine Dream along with popular songs, Risky Business is noted for its significant soundtrack. Tangerine Dream’s contribution to the soundtrack adds a distinctly 80s feel to the film but not in an obnoxious or cheesy fashion.
Additionally, the scene where Tom Cruise slides around the hardwood floor dancing while Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” plays is an iconic scene that even people who have never seen the movie recognize.
9 Flash Gordon
With a soundtrack courtesy of momentous rock band Queen, Flash Gordon‘s soundtrack is a highlight of ’80s exuberance. The band responsible for such high octane hits like “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” was a perfect choice to do the soundtrack for this space hero.
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the draw for the arena rock behemoths was the opportunity to do the film’s score as well as its soundtrack. Queen’s guitarist Brian May felt that film scores were dominated by orchestral pieces. Given the chance to do a rock score for a movie, the group accepted the challenge wholeheartedly.
Xanadu was completely trashed when it was released in 1980, with some critics even referring to the Olivia Newton-John film as the “worst movie ever made”. That harsh criticism aside, one aspect of the film that was praised time and time again was the film’s fantastic soundtrack, done by Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra.
The film’s music feels both ethereal and synthetic, perfect for the film’s plot that revolves around a Greek goddess enmeshed in the roller rinks of Venice Beach.
7 Batman (1989)
The extremely talented, multi instrumentalist Prince was the genius behind so many hit songs. Prince lent his talents to 1989’s Batman starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. This soundtrack album was certified double platinum, a testament to how popular this soundtrack was when it was released.
Prince’s songs play perfectly into the comic book atmosphere of the film. How could anyone forget the scene when Jack Nicholson’s Joker is dancing on a giant parade float with Prince blasting in the background?
With a leading man like David Bowie, it should come as no surprise that the Labyrinth soundtrack is absolutely stellar. From upbeat tunes like “Magic Dance” to the more melancholic “As the World Falls Down”, Bowie covers all his bases on delivering an unforgettable film soundtrack.
The puppet heavy film has many other positive attributes, from the acting to the costumes to the set designs. Yet, the best part of the film to many remains its stellar soundtrack.
5 Top Gun
With a soundtrack featuring some of the hottest musical artists of the ’80s, Top Gun‘s heavyweight-filled soundtrack is a classic. Using the talents of Otis Redding, Berlin, Miami Sound Machine, Loverboy, Jerry Lee Lewis, Europe, and Kenny Loggins among other notable names, Top Gun used the music exceptionally to achieve the desired emotional response of the scenes.
When “Highway to the Danger Zone” plays, the scene drives the viewer to excitement and energy. While, when “Take My Breath Away” plays, the moment is read as sensual and vulnerable.
4 Dirty Dancing
So many hits came from the soundtrack of the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing, some of which include “Hungry Eyes” and”Time of My Life”. Another notable hit from the film’s soundtrack is sung and written by one of the film’s stars, Patrick Swayze.
Swayze’s “She’s Like The Wind” reached a peak of number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 of 1988, which is no small feat. And with the iconic dance scene at the end of Dirty Dancing, imagine how different that moment would be without the accompanying “Time of My Life” playing.
Fondly remembered for its intense dance scenes, Flashdance’s famed dance sequences rely on the significant tunes of the film’s soundtrack. The fast-paced “Maniac” complements the dance scene’s constant acrobatic movements, and the uplifting “What a Feeling” gives a triumphant feeling to the audition scene where the main character Alex gives her all to the prestigious dance committee.
Meanwhile, the music in the strip club-like scenes are sultry, apt for the setting in which it plays. Another sign of the soundtrack’s iconic nature was the fact that the aforementioned Irene Cara song “What a Feeling” reached the illustrious place as number one in the Billboard Hot 100 chart of 1983.
2 Pretty in Pink
John Hughes was renowned for his exemplary soundtracks that seemed to be right on par with what teens of the decade were listening to. Hughes’ Pretty in Pink was a great instance of this ability.
The soundtrack featured new wave-centric hits ranging from groups like OMD, New Order, and INXS, and, in fact, Pretty in Pink’s title actually comes from The Psychadelic Furs’s song of the same name. Additionally, the ending scene is firmly planted in viewer’s minds when “If You Leave” plays while the main character kisses her love interest.
1 Purple Rain
There’s really no going wrong when Prince is at the helm of the soundtrack. The film Purple Rain‘s soundtrack spawned such hits as “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and of course “Purple Rain”.
Often regarded as one of the best soundtracks of the ’80s, Purple Rain‘s soundtrack enjoyed many accolades upon its release and continues to gather praise today. Prince won a Grammy Award for this soundtrack album while garnering comparisons to music luminary Jimi Hendrix. The film’s song “Purple Rain” even won the Oscar for Best Original Song.