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12 Songs That Define 80's Cinema

Andrew Maxwell

A twentysomething man of industry. Filmmaker and animator.

Disclaimer: This list is not biased, these are data facts derived from knowledge and market research, cool hunting, surveyed online analytics, and the Google.

#12) Extreme / Play With Me
Movie: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

This song is the reason I am so stone faced today. Repeated exposure to such shreddingly face-melting guitar licks at such an early age is kind of like catching chicken pox -- Builds up your immunity. However, if you're too old, it could kill you. Proceed with caution.

#11) David Bowie / Dance Magic
Movie: Labyrinth (1986)

Muppets really came to power in the 80s and this is one of the most important musical muppet moments. Who better to be the king of all muppet goblins, than David Bowie. There is something incredible about a villain being an awesome musician who can make babies happy and punt muppets around the room and still be a 'bad guy'. It's deep.
"In nine hours and twenty-three minutes... you'll be mine!"

#10) Joe Esposito / You're the Best Around
Movie: The Karate Kid (1984)

There is nothing about this movie that doesn't feel like a personal interactive experience to the viewer. We were all 'The Karate Kid' at heart in the 80s and this song just pounds that home while reminding us to always try our best because, after all, a man's got to learn to take it.

#9) Kenny Loggins / Playing With The Boys
Movie: Top Gun (1986)

A lot could be said about this, but it pretty well speaks for itself. That is to say, volleyball is a beloved sport enjoyed by shirtless, sweaty men of all shapes and sizes.

#8) Prince / When Doves Cry
Movie: Purple Rain (1984)

Glamorous pop sensation at his most decadent. an exercise in soft focus and gender ambiguous clothing (or lack therof.) Absolutely era defining.

#7) Cyndi Lauper / Goonies 'R' Good Enough
Movie: The Goonies (1985)

There is so much 80s about this 80s that it's got me completely 80d. Only one Corey, but plenty of WWF wrestlers (including the late, great Capt. Lou Albano). What would our childhood have been like without a formative document like "The Goonies". The true irony, is that the 'rich stuff' they were looking for was inside of them all along. Oh, and they found some pirate gold too. I highly suggest, if you have time, backing up and watching this entire MTV music video event.

#6) Paul Engemann / Push It To The Limit
Movie: Scarface (1983)

"Welcome to the limit... Take it maybe one step more!" Nothing about this is lame. By definition, there is nothing bland at the limit, at the razors edge... the point of no return... You can tell we're really doubling the stakes here at the brink. Push it!

#5) The Alessi Brothers / Saving The Day
Movie: Ghostbusters (1984)

I bet you thought this would be the Theme song, but haven't we heard enough of that? Instead, the soundtrack cut that brings us into the final act of Ghostbusters. You can't listen to this song without imagining some guys with unlicensed nuclear accelerators on their backs Saving. The. Day.

#4) Simple Minds / Don't You Forget About Me
Movie: The Breakfast Club (1985)

This song is so much more poignant this year, and of course we had to give props to the namesmith of our blog. I can still feel the triumphant Judd Nelson fist pump every time I hear this song. Whatever happened to the bandana around the ankle look?

#3) Harold Faltermeyer / Axel F
Movie: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

As a Detroit native who grew up in the 80s, I could really relate to Axel Foley's trials and tribulations. In many ways, BHC is the story of my life but in even more ways than that, it is not the story of my life.

#2) Peter Gabriel / In Your Eyes
Movie: Say Anything (1989)

Anyone see this one coming? It's a known fact that 20% of our readership has done this at one point or another to win back the affections of a lost or stolen girlfriend. How'd that work out for you? This is a clear example of a song defining a scene (and a movie) instead of the other way around.

#1) John Williams / Ewok Celebration and Finale
Movie: Return of the Jedi (1983)

It's a really great song that ended a great movie that no longer exists.

Honorable Un-mentionables: Moving in Stereo / The Cars

Movie: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Can't embed this one. NSFW. Just search Fast Times at Ridgemont High Pool Scene. You'll find what I'm thinking about. I wish I could say it was all music that powered this scene, but I can't.. HOWEVER, I can say that without this music, the scene just wouldn't be as hilariously epic as it is.



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jcbeeno said:

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OMG man Simple Minds was da best! Breakfast Club!!


Richard said:

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Ummm... Yell-O's "oh yeah" anyone? That stupid son was in more 80's movies than even George thorougood's bad to the bone ( where's that on the list BTW?)

can you even think of the ending of ferris bueller without that yell-o song coming to mind?

spov said:

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Pretty good list except for the #1 selection, the Ewok celebration and finale? WTF? Is that a joke? Doesn't even deserve a top 20 spot. Richard is right, 'Oh yeah' should be #1 to lend some credibility here.

bigjonlam said:

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No list like this can/should be complete without Robert Tepper's "There's No Easy Way Out" from Rocky 4. In fact, let's all agree that should have been number 1.
You could also make a strong case for John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band's "On The Dark Side" from Eddie and the Cruisers.

Drue said:

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Wow..I am completely shocked you left off "Power of Love" from Back to the Future. I mean what were you should have easily been number 1 for crying out loud.

DarKnight2k1 said:

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Because of the connection of the song to the movie, I would say that Dont Forget About Me from Simple Minds should have been number one. Other than that great list.

Sean said:

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I would have gone with 'Highway to the Danger Zone' for Top Gun. Google that phrase and the first thing to come up is Kenny Loggins and Top Gun. I'm afraid to even Google 'Playing with the Boys'.

I agree it didn't merit #1 on the list, but what they did you the original 'Jedi' ending was just downright wrong.

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