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Sounds Off: Top 10 movie soundtrack songs


James Cameron’s epic, action-packed “Titanic” returns to theaters Friday, February 10, in celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary. 

The box office sensation — a tragic romance set aboard the largest moving object ever built — the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic, hits theaters in 3D 4K High Definition in time for Valentine’s Day.

The blockbuster film has seemingly endured longer than the steamliner herself. The 1997 release was the highest-grossing film of all time until “Avatar””s release in 2009. Today, it ranks third behind “Avengers: Endgame” (2019). 

“Titanic” won a record-tying 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”

In honor of “Titanic’s” return to the big screen and the Inkspot looks at iconic soundtrack songs from the silver screen — songs have become an indelible part of a film’s legacy, tracks that can remind viewers of characters and storylines with just a few notes, songs whose identities have become so inextricably intertwined and intertangled with the movies they appear…

10. “Lose Yourself” – Eminem; “8 Mile” (2002) 

Starting off our list is one of the most iconic rap songs in recent history; a song forever liked to the semi-biographical film “8 Mile.”
Despite “Lost Yourself” not being featured in a stand-out scene — playing just seconds before the credits roll — the song is the driving force behind “8 Mile’s” enduring legacy.
Eminem is no stranger to penning lyrics from the perspective of a character, writing from the p.o.v of Stan and Slim Shady. But “Lose Yourself” is different, it’s written from the standpoint of Rabbit, a fictionalized version of the rapper himself. Rabbit is Marshal Mathers before he became Eminem — before Dr. Dre, Slim Shaddy and fame.
It is an anthem for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, encouraging them to never give up despite the direst of circumstances.
The song is intimate and personal — and painful.
And a masterpiece.
The track is one of the most successful rap tunes of all time, winning an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2003 and earning Mathers a Grammy. From the first notes, this song is instantly recognizable, one of the most note-worthy movie themes to date.
It is a cultural phenomenon, with its infectious energy and inspiring lyrics, forever a part of popular culture.

9. “Old Time Rock and Roll” – Bob Seger; “Risky Business” (1983)

Tom Cruise’s sock-sliding jam session in “Risky Business” is the film’s defining scene. You may have never seen the movie, but, decades later, you know the song and you know the scene.
While Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” was released in 1978, Cruise made it an instant classic in 1983 when his character cranked the stereo up and got down to business lip-syncing and playing air guitar.
Cruise’s character’s underwear-clad performance, dancing around the house without a care in the world, captures the freedom and liberation of the coming-of-age experience — an idea driven home in the montage of Joel’s adventures that follow, his wild party and joyride in a Porsche.
The scene has been parodied in episodes of “ALF,” “The Nanny,” “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “South Park,” “The Flash” and “The Goldbergs.”
There is no “Risky Business” without “Old Time Rock and Roll,” and “Old Time Rock and Roll” would just be another song in Seger’s catalogue without the film.

8. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes; “Dirty Dancing” (1987)

“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” is the most critically acclaimed song on our list, earning three awards for its appearance in “Dirty Dancing”: an Oscar (Best Original Song, 1987), a Golden Globe (Best Original Song, 1987) and a Grammy (Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, 1988). The song spent 18 weeks at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Despite being written and recorded in 1986, the song feels like something on the radio in the summer of 1963. It is timeless sounding, a trait that has helped it stand the test of time.
While Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey may have hated each other off-screen, on-screen, they jumped all in as they performed what remains to this day one of the most iconic dances in the history of film.
Say “the lift,” and instantly, people know what you are talking about; they hear the opening lyrics in their head, they see Johnny effortlessly lift Baby in the air.

7. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel; “Say Anything” (1989)

“Say Anything” wouldn’t be worth talking about without Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” Director Cameron Crowe believed the song fit the themes and story of the film so well that he included it twice in the film. 

The song’s iconic appearance is when John Cusack holds a boombox outside of Ione Skye’s house, playing the track in an effort to win Skye’s character over. 

While the song’s popularity isn’t fully seen on the charts, only reaching number 41 on Billboard’s Top 200 after its appearance in this film, its legacy is apparent. 

The simple act of John Cusack lifting that boombox launched Cusack’s career as a heartthrob, a leading man in romantic comedies for decades to come. 

The number of homages and parodies of the scene is also a testament to the strength of the unbreakable link between the film and the song — it has been recreated over and over again in films like “Easy A” and “Deadpool 2” and on shows like “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons” and “The Regular Show.” 

This film, specifically this scene, became a teen rom-com staple that will resonate with generations of teens. 

6. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen; “Wayne’s World” (1992)

It is no secret that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of the greatest songs ever released — it’s opening piano chords, it’s virtuosic guitar solos, Freddie Mercury’s soaring vocals, Queen’s complex vocal harmonies and multi-layered instrumentation — the song grabs listeners and never lets us go.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is an amalgamation of music styles that shouldn’t work together — rock, opera, classical. And somehow, they do, coming together as one of the most dynamic songs of all time. 

How could this 1975 song get any better? When it was initially released, the track topped the U.K. charts for nine weeks. Within a year, it had sold over one million copies. After Mercury, Queen’s lead singer’s, death in 1991, “Bohemian Rhapsody” returned to the top of the charts for another five weeks. 

The moment the Queen cassette begins to play in the Mirth Mobile, it is clear that this is a classic moment in cinematic history. In an instant, Wayne and Garth are transformed from roughly sketched “S.N.L.” characters to rich and real people. 

The song encapsulates the carefree, fun-loving attitude of the two main characters, effectively introducing the audience to the world of Wayne and Garth — their love of all things rock and roll. 

With the release of “Wayne’s World,” the song charted again, reaching number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The film’s famous head-banging opening, rocking out to the six-minute song, is one of the best uses of music in cinema — it create these characters and instantly transports us to their world — a world of flannel, of “Stairway to Heaven,” of screeching guitars and epic drum solos. 

5. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Randy Newman; “Toy Story” (1995)

In terms of a theme song — “Toy Story’s” opening number lets you know exactly what you are in for, setting the tone for “Toy Story.” the song functions on two levels — introducing the viewer to the relationship between Andy and Woody in the movie’s opening montage and commenting on the friendship between Woody and Buzz by the film’s closing credits. 

It demonstrating how far Woody will go for Andy, how far Woody and Buzz will go for each other, no matter the odds. It also serves as a reminder that no matter how different we may be, we can always come together to support each other and make something special. 

Who is the Randy Newman? The songwriter has been releasing music since 1968, he has scored nine DisneyPixar animated films, was nominated for two Oscars for his work on “The Princess and the Frog.” Yet, despite his illustrious resume, the name conjures one image — Andy’s love for his toy sheriff. 

The song creates instant nostalgia regardless of the listener’s age. It transports us to the first time we saw “Toy Story,” back to our childhoods — our bedrooms, our toys, our friendships. 

4. “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor; “Rocky III” (1982)

Training montages are a staple of cinema — the love story “Dirty Dancing,” has one; the definitive account of the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, “Cool Runnings,” has one; even “Mulan.”

In the sports genre, where the training montage is a standard, one series’ montages stand head and shoulders above them all — Rocky.

Each of the eight “Rocky” (and now “Creed”) films feature iconic training montages — punching sides of beef, running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, chasing chickens. Within the series, there is perhaps the best montage of all time, the heavyweight montage champion of the cinema world — the “Eye of the Tiger” sequence in “Rocky III.”

Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” would not have gone the distance without Rocky in it’s corner — it has become the staple inspiration song. Today, it is an anthem for working hard and getting those gains. 

“Eye of the Tiger” is used twice in the film — the first delivery packs a punch. The song is first featured as Clubber Lang (Mr. T) rises up the boxing ranks, and Rocky sells out. 

The two square off, Lang has trained, Rocky has gone soft — and Rocky gets rocked. 

The second instance plays instrumentally, sans lyrics, as Rocky trains for his rematch against Lang. 

Set to the upbeat tempo of Survivor’s hit single, the montage shows Rocky pushing himself to the limit, running on the beach, lifting weights and some old-fashioned pull-ups. 

As Rocky struggles against the odds, the music captures his grit, determination and refusal to give up. 

The song in this scene was almost Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” but Sylvester Stallone fought hard for the Survivor song and ultimately won the battle. Stallone called the band himself to secure their involvement in the film. 

The song and film are so strongly linked that to imagine these scenes set to “Another One Bites the Dust” is impossible. Rocky III is “Eye of the Tiger.”

3. “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion; “Titanic” (1997)

This list would be incomplete without adding the iconic “I’m flying!” scene from “Titanic.” The image of Leo and Kate at the bow of the ill-fated ship, Jack’s arms around Rose — Rose’s arms spread wide is engrained in the mind’s of just about every human of a certain age, regardless of if they’ve seen the movie or not. 

While the scene features the instrumental version of Celine Dion song — you can hear Celine Dion’s angelic voice in your head. 

The beautiful scene is drowning in sentiment, romance, love, freedom and adventure. 

The song begins with a soft and melancholy piano, setting the tone for a story of tragedy and loss. As it builds, a haunting synthesizer enters, then strings, soaring flutes. It’s a powerful and emotional piece, and the instrumentation reinforces the tragedy of the film’s story. 

The song’s sweeping climax creates a sense of optimism and hope, even in the face of such despair. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking musical journey that survived to win four Grammys, two Oscars, and one Golden Globe, selling 18 million copies worldwide.

Near, far, wherever we are, whenever we hear that flute, the first note from Dion’s diaphragm — we are transported onto the Titanic. 

2. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” – Frankie Valli; “10 Things I Hate About You(1999) 

You can hear it, can’t you?
Heath Ledger’s criminally charming voice crooning acapella over the soccer field’s P.A. system?
Doo do doo do doo dado da doooooo.
The marching band kicks in.
This scene is a 90s rom-com standout — a grand romantic gesture that will go down as one of the best musical moments in movies.
Since Ledger’s character took to the bleachers, belting out this Frankie Valli tune, teens everywhere have had their expectations set unreachably high — no teen boy is capable of such romance, so love, such vulnerability.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” is an infectious earworm with an unforgettable hook — it’s impossible to get it out of your head. Its appearance in “10 Things I Hate About You” is just as infectious.

1. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds; “The Breakfast Club” ( ) 

Judd Nelson’s fist, in those finger-less gloves, rising triumphantly into the air as the Simple Minds song plays is anything but simple — it is a pivotal movie music moment.
“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” sums up “The Breakfast Club’s” themes, capturing the essence of a group of teenagers who, despite their differences in social status, are connected by their shared experience of teenage angst and social awkwardness.
With its anthemic chorus, the song captures the desire to make connections, be remembered, and be accepted.
The song speaks to teenage insecurity — will these relationships built over Saturday detention still stand come school on Monday morning?
The song plays on as Anthony Michael Hall’s character reads the letter the Breakfast Club penned to the principal.
It is impossible to think about this John Hugh’s classic film without seeing Nelson’s fist frozen in the air — the song and movie alike transcend time and remain relevant year after year.

Honorable Mentions 

  • “Danger Zone” – Kenny Loggins; “Top Gun” (1989)
  • “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.; “Ghostbusters” (1984)
  • “Tiny Dancer” – Elton John; “Almost Famous” (2000)
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About the Contributors
Kelsey Kern
Kelsey Kern, Senior Staff Reporter
Kelsey Kern is a senior at Normal Community High School. She is involved in the Freshman Mentor Program and Normal FFA's Leadership Team. This is her second year working with Inkspot as a Senior Staff reporter. My favorite movies are Jojo Rabbit (2019), Little Women (2019), and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). On the weekends, I enjoy making fun of dumb movies and decorating cookies with my friends.
Hannah Kocar
Hannah Kocar, Senior Staff Reporter
Hannah Kocar is a senior at Normal Community High School. This is her second year working with the Inkspot and she is a Senior Staff Reporter.  I am most comfortable when I'm surrounded by my best friends and playing music. On the weekends, I relax with my family and hangout with friends. My favorite films are Bohemian Rhapsody and Perks of Being a Wallflower.
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