The 40 Best Movie Songs, From “Ghostbusters” to “Wind Beneath My Wings”
Whether you're watching a drama or a rom-com, music always finds a way to elevate the movie-watching experience. If you're anything like us, there are just some songs that we can instantly associate with a film or scene. For example, play “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel and we instantly remember Say Anything. And the minute we hear the opening to “Eye of the Tiger,” we're already throwing punches, Rocky-style. Here are 40 of the best movie songs that will instantly take you back to the classic films that made them famous.
1. “You Don't Own Me” by Lesley Gore: The First Wives Club
Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton’s rendition of this original girl power anthem is everything.
2. “Don't You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds: The Breakfast Club
Take a time machine to the '80s and pump your fist in the air like Judd Nelson.
3. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion: Titanic
Where would we be without the “I’ll never let go” dialogue-dubbed version?
4. “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick: My Best Friend’s Wedding
There's no better way to convince a room full of people that you’re engaged to your gay bestie than by recounting your love story through song.
5. “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin: Top Gun
We're not surprised it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1986. Plus, honorable mention goes to Kenny Loggins’s "Danger Zone" and the glistening display of testosterone that is the Maverick and Goose versus Iceman and Slider volleyball game scene.
6. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes: Dirty Dancing
Nobody puts Baby in the corner.
7. “Don't Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith: Armageddon
The one film that single-handedly takes credit for the categorization of animal crackers as both children's and “adult” snack food.
8. “You've Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman: Toy Story
A heartwarming ballad that jump-started the friendship between Woody and Buzz (and a childhood memory we'll always remember).
9. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor: Rocky III
The only theme song that gets us through the day and pumps us up whenever we're down.
10. “Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship: Mannequin
Long before Kim Cattrall was Samantha in Sex and the City, she was Andrew McCarthy’s fantasy woman.
11. “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio: Dangerous Minds
This 1995 gem + Michelle Pfeiffer = a classic movie combo.
12. “Flashdance...What a Feeling” by Irene Cara: Flashdance
Pull. The. Cord.
13. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston: The Bodyguard
What we wouldn’t give to hit that high E just like Whitney. (Hey, a girl can dream.)
14. “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees: Saturday Night Fever
When John Travolta and his gyrating hips arrive, you know the party has officially begun.
15. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins: Footloose
How was there a dancing ban when this song existed? No wonder Kevin Bacon fought so hard to bust a move.
16. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem: 8 Mile
This 2002 film is not complete without the award-winning rap that started it all.
17. “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Better Midler: Beaches
We hope you have tissues ready when this song starts.
18. “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel: Frozen
Get ready to unleash your inner princess and belt out the song just like Idina Menzel. (And we apologize in advance if you have kids who won't stop playing this classic on repeat.)
19. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.: Ghostbusters
Who you gonna call?
20. “Unchained Melody” by Righteous Brothers: Ghost
We’ll never look at a potter's wheel the same way again.
21. “Glory” by John Legend & Common: Selma
With a story so inspirational, it deserves a powerful song to match.
22. “Kiss Me” by SixPence None The Richer: She’s All That
It just wasn’t the '90s without a newly glam Lainey Boggs gliding down the stairs to this catchy pop tune.
23. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel: Say Anything
We'll gladly listen to this song over and over again if it means we'll get John Cusack outside our window blasting the song on his boombox.
24. “Moon River” by Audrey Hepburn: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The award-winning song fits perfectly with Audrey Hepburn's vocals and impressive guitar playing.
25. “Men in Black” by Will Smith: Men in Black
We’d like to keep our memories of this classic, please. Now, where do we sign up to be a part of the secret organization?
26. “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper: A Star Is Born
OK, this 2018 movie has a lot of bops but it's the first number sung by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper that hooked us.
27. “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton: 9 to 5
Fun fact: This song earned an Oscar nod and two Grammy Awards. (Dolly, we’re so not worthy.)
28. “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar ft. SZA: Black Panther
With Kendrick Lamar producing the movie's soundtrack, it was bound for greatness.
29. “Banana Boat (Day O) by Harry Belafonte: Beetlejuice
Honestly, we can't sing this song without thinking of this funny scene. (FYI, we're definitely reenacting this choreography at our next dinner party.)
30. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth: Furious 7
A tribute to the late Paul Walker, this track really hits you in the feels.
31. “Jai Ho” by A.R. Rahman: Slumdog Millionaire
Remember the iconic train station dance number from this 2008 Best Picture winner? It's just as good on the second (fine, seventeenth) viewing.
32. “Paradise” by LL Cool J ft. Amerie: Deliver Us From Eva
A rom-com starring Gabrielle Union? A soundtrack we can jam to even when the movie is over? Sign us up.
33. “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy: Do The Right Thing
Spike Lee's 1989 film found a moving theme song in this rap track.
34. “Everything Is Awesome!” by Tegan and Sara ft. The Lonely Island: The LEGO Movie
Don't sing along. We dare you.
35. “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel: The Graduate
When Simon & Garfunkel are in charge of the whole soundtrack, it's pretty impossible to go wrong.
36. “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” by Three 6 Mafia: Hustle & Flow
Not only was this the song of 2005, it also won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
37. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen: Wayne's World
Car rides with friends got ten times cooler after this '92 classic scene.
38. “Don’t Let Go” (Love) by En Vogue: Set It Off
The powerhouse of En Vogue fits perfectly with the all-star cast of Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise.
39. “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Ray: The Great Gatsby
A haunting ballad that describes the relationship of Daisy and Gatsby to a T.