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The Top Ten Most Inspiring Movie Songs

21 June 2006 by Gnoll One Comment

THE TOP TEN MOST INSPIRING SONGS FROM THE MOVIES
By Gnoll

OK, folks. I know it’s been a while, but I still exist. And while it’s been months since I’ve written a review, and even longer since I’ve tried to put together a top ten list, I found a muse of sorts and decided to throw something together. What we have here is a list of the most inspirational movie soundtrack songs of all time.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, I’m a little rusty. Therefore, I won’t be too wordy here. I’m going to let the songs speak for themselves, and have even provided some low-quality audio clips for you to peruse.

Now, you’ll notice that there’s a trend here. Sure, there might be other, better movie soundtrack songs that came from that era, but these songs all fit a certain model. They’re full of energy, they make liberal use of the synthesizer, and best of all, they are certain to pump you up. Put these in your iPod before you hit the gym, and you’re sure to get the workout of your life.

10. Michael Sembello, “Maniac”.
From Flashdance

Click here for a low quality sample.

Michael Sembello will always be immortalized on one-hit wonder lists for his contribution to the Flashdance soundtrack, but this song embodies the genre of synthesized pop that was such a signature of the 1980s. A top ten hit in the U.S., “Maniac” has entrenched itself so far into the pop culture that it’s hard not to envision Jennifer Beals’s energetic dancing when you hear it; or at the very least, Chris Farley being hosed off by Rob Lowe in “Tommy Boy”.

9. Robert Tepper, “No Easy Way Out”
From Rocky IV
Click here for a low quality sample.

I really had to go out of my way to avoid making this a list including only Rocky movies, because between parts 3 and 4 alone, Stallone’s boxing franchise packs some winners in the cheesy soundtrack department. I was forced to bump Touch’s “The Sweetest Victory” in favor of this one, which is memorable for the sequence wherein the beaten and bruised Rocky Balboa laments the loss of friend Apollo Creed and drives his sports car around while shifting gears with unbridled emotion.

8. Frank Stallone, “Far From Over”
From Stayin’ Alive
Click here for a low quality sample.

You may not know it by name, but you’ll instantly recgnize the opening synth riff from this song, performed by the brother of the director of the film it comes from. In fact, when I look back at this list, I now realize how Stallone-centric it actually is, as Sly had something to do with four of the ten entries on the list, and Sammy Hagar’s “Winner Takes it All” from Over The Top just barely missed being listed here. Still, the vision of John Travolta trying to revive the character of Tony Manero dancing over this tune as he prepares himself for broadway is unforgettable.

7. Bonnie Tyler, “Holding Out for a Hero”
From Footloose
Click here for a low quality sample.

With the power of Bonnie Tyler’s raspy voice backed by the dramatic melodies of Jim Steinman, there’s no way that this 1983 hit could be left off this list. Piano chords harmonize with angelic backing vocals as the song reaches a thrilling climax. A number one hit in 1984 when released on the soundtrack to Footloose, “Hero” also made appearances in two other 1980’s films: Short Circuit 2 and Who’s Harry Crumb?. However, it will always be best remembered in Kevin Bacon’s tour de force.

6. Survivor, “Eye of the Tiger”
From Rocky III
Click here for a low quality sample.

No song is as synonymous with getting pumped up than this Survivor song, a huge hit for the band in their heyday. Still played often at sporting events, the song spent six weeks at the top of the billboard charts in 1982. It was also used briefly as the entrance theme for Hulk Hogan, who not coincedentally made his acting debut in this film. More recently, you’ve probably seen the band spoofing their own song (albeit with a different singer) while shilling Starbuck’s coffee.

5. Kenny Loggins, “Danger Zone”
From Top Gun
Click here for a low quality sample.

While he got his start working with Jim Messina and collaborating with a multitude of artists in the 1970’s, Kenny Loggins was the soundtrack king in the 1980’s. In that decade, his voice appeared on the soundtracks to Caddyshack and Caddyshack 2, Footloose, Over the Top, Rocky IV, and perhaps his most memorable moment, in Top Gun. “Danger Zone” embodies the rush and thrill of modern air combat, and helps pump up anyone who hears it for some of the best action sequences ever filmed.

4. John Cafferty, “Hearts on Fire”
From Rocky IV
Click here for a low quality sample.

This song is most notable for appearing over what may very well be the greatest montage scene ever put on celluloid. Earlier, we mentioned “No Easy Way Out”, which shows Rocky lamenting Apollo’s death. Now, we see him mounting up for revenge against the man who killed him: Soviet boxer Ivan Drago. As Drago gets pumped full of chemicals and utilizes state-of-the-art training techniques, Rocky does everything naturally and primitively. The crowning touch comes when the song fades out, as Rocky, fresh from climbing to the top of a snowy mountain, throws his arms in the air and bellows the name “Drago!”.

3. Stan Bush, “The Touch”
From Transformers: The Movie
Click here for a low quality sample.

Composer Vince DiCola’s resume in Hollywood movies is short, but aside from a B-movie released in 2004 called Sci-Fighter, every one of them has a song on this list. DiCola composed “Far from Over” from Staying Alive, “Hearts on Fire” from Rocky IV, and this victory anthem from the animated film that inspired a generation. If you’ve never seen the movie it’s from, then perhaps you’ll recognize it as sung by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. Now that there is a live-action adaptation of the Transformers mythos coming to fruition in the near future, we can only hope that they manage to work it in to the new version somehow.

2. Joe “Bean” Esposito, “You’re the Best”
From The Karate Kid
Click here for a low quality sample.

Few songs are as inspiring as this number from the original Karate Kid. “You’re the Best” appears in the memorable montage that covers the All-Valley Karate Championships. How can one not be inspired to defeat the dreaded Cobra Kai when a triumphant voice is telling them “You’re the best around! Nothing’s ever gonna keep you down!”? This was long before a certain future Oscar-winning actress would take over the Karate Kid role, mind you. A sped-up version of this song was recently used in the South Park episode “The Losing Edge”, to hilarious results.

1. Paul Engemann, “Push it to the Limit”.
From Scarface
Click here for a low quality sample.

The soundtrack to Brian De Palma’s gangster opus has a ton of gems on it, but none shine as bright as this little ditty. With its driving beat and powerful synthesizer sound, it provides the perfect backdrop for the montage piece where Tony Montana rises to power. The song has even gone beyond the movie itself, entrenching itself into other facets of pop culture as well. It was featured on the South Park episode “Up the Down Steroid”, and along with several other songs from the Scarface soundtrack, was utilized in Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto III video game.

One Comment »

  • Bill said:

    Eye Of The Tiger should have been #1 on the list!

    Two other Survivor tracks should have made the list, those being “Burning Heart” from Rocky IV and “The Moment Of Truth” from The Karate Kid.

    If you expand the list to include TV theme songs, then you can add the Jimi Jamison song “I’m Always Here” from the show Baywatch. Jimi Jamison was one of the long time vocalists of Survivor.

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