Music is a magical, though often unsung part of what makes a good movie, a great one. If you don’t believe that, go back and watch the ending of The Karate Kid without sound. It sucks. (And before you stone me, the ‘80s original is one of my favorite flicks.) But certain great movie songs cannot exist without the films that surround them. That, coincidentally, is why you won’t find Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” from Say Anything here. That tune would have been an anytime-masterpiece regardless. Let’s get started.
6. ‘I Will Always Love You’ By Whitney Houston
The Film: The Bodyguard
While the song itself isn’t bad on its own — none of these are — few seem to remember Dolly Parton sang it originally in a film called The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Give it to Whitney Houston against the backdrop of a fair romantic thriller, and you automatically associate the song and the movie as two inseparable works of art.
5. ‘Dueling Banjos’ By Eric Weissberg And Steve Mandell
The Film: Deliverance
The 1972 film Deliverance is pretty memorable with or without the music — after all, there’s the “squeal like a pig” scene making this a nightmare impossible to forget — but thanks to Weissberg and Mandell’s version of the song, we now look over our shoulders for deranged mountain men every time we hear a few chords.
4. ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ By Bette Midler
The Film: Beaches
SPOILER ALERT. Every time this one plays, it’s almost impossible to get that tearjerker scene out of your head, where Midler’s orphaned goddaughter asks her new mommy (Midler) what she can take with her when she moves in after her mother dies of a terminal illness. I spent the whole movie prepping for Barbara Hershey to die, only to be sucker-punched by that quiet and poignant moment between a woman and a little girl. Where are those darn Kleenexes?
3. ‘The Power Of Love’ By Huey Lewis & The News
The Film: Back To The Future
Lewis & The News did a lot of good stuff in the ‘80s, but every time this one heats up, it takes me back to the original adventure of Marty McFly and the mother who fell in love with him. Had the opportunity to hear it live a few years ago. The boys haven’t missed a beat.
2. ‘Stayin’ Alive’ By The Bee Gees
The Film: Saturday Night Fever
The flagship song from disco classic Saturday Night Fever was so popular, Sylvester Stallone chose it for the name of the sequel when he directed John Travolta in it six years later. While for the most part, disco music should be rounded up and obliterated a la Disco Demolition Night Act Two, this song consistently makes me have to listen from beginning to end. And every time I do, Johnny T is striking that iconic pose.
1. ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ By Survivor
The Film: Rocky III
Go ahead. Try not to get pumped up when you hear those guitars explode. This song, and the movie it was in, go hand-in-hand. Without it, we’re betting we would have never gotten Rocky IV, V, and Balboa, and that, friends, would have been an American tragedy.
Which of these do you think are the best movie songs, and what should we have included on the list? Share your thoughts in our comments section!