To make a great movie, you have to accompany it with a great theme song – a song that will be remembered for years to come and that will be synonymous with the feature film. Over the decades, directors have meticulously selected songs to deliver musical translations of their films, some with extreme success.
This selection of theme songs lacks composed scores, as many audiences would agree, they belong on their own on a comprehensive list. The musical gifts below are those that are more familiar to charts than orchestras and those that would specifically be perfect additions to your playlist.
“Fight the Power” (“Do what it takes” – 1989)
The very poignant and politically significant Spike Lee The film perfectly captures the growing racial tension between African American residents and Italian business owners in an American neighborhood. The soundtrack embraces the culture of the film and applies the message throughout the film.
Composed by Spike Lee’s father, the songs in the film are all iconic in their own right. However, “Fight the Power” by public enemy has often become synonymous with film. This uplifting anthem will uplift both you and your playlist.
“Young and Beautiful” (“The Great Gatsby” – 2013)
You can’t have a music-themed listing and not include the work of Baz Luhrman. His films live and breathe music, and Gatsby the magnificent is no different. Among flapper girls and cigars, ‘Gatsby the magnificent’ provides audiences with a fun and romantic soundtrack. At the forefront of this soundtrack is the graceful and beautiful song “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey.
Del Rey’s beautiful, timeless voice is a perfect match for Gatsby and Daisy’s timeless love story, as well as the classic orchestra’s combination to transport audiences to the 1920s. The song’s grace and sophistication are a must for anyone’s playlist.
“All Stars” (“Black Panther” – 2018)
One of marvel’s most loved movies, Black Panther features the late, great, Chadwick Boseman, who was taken too soon. His legacy as King of Wakanda lives on in film and coincidental music. Nominated for several prestigious awards, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, Kendrick Lamar and SZA musical masterpiece was used for the end credits of the film and remained in the minds of fans.
The song is another empowering addition to the roster, with the lyrics evoking a sense of triumph among those who weigh you down – fitting the overall theme of the film. Selected by Ryan CooglerKendrick Lamar uses his incredibly lyrical talents to prove to audiences that they have to rise above.
“Sunflower” (Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse)
A groundbreaking film from Sony that aesthetically embraces the comic book roots of the hero in red spandex needed a catchy song. Post Malone and Swae Lee come together to create a catchy, upbeat melody “Sunflower” that sets the tone for the entire film.
Debuting at number 9 on the US Billboard charts, the song slowly climbed the charts to the top spot as more audience members fell in love with the film and the song together. A perfect song to start your morning, Post Malone’s groove and unique voice will be an asset to anyone’s playlist.
“Falling Slowly” (“Once” – 2007)
This modern-day Irish love story is as beautiful as it is sad, following the love story between two musicians in Dublin. The film’s composers, whose musical relationship fueled the narrative, provide audiences with beautiful folk songs that strike a chord. The title track “Falling Slowly” was so adored that even Bob Dylan wanted the two star actors to open his world tour.
Beating several Disney films, the song won an Oscar for Best Original Song, and it’s not hard to see why. A song to listen to in the rain, the guitar and piano that have such an impact in the film, continue to have an impact without the visuals of the film.
“Guaranteed” (“Into the Wild” – 2007)
Co-producer and director Sean Penn chooses the unlimited talents of Eddie Vedder as the muse of this beautiful biographical drama. Depicting the life of Christopher McCandless, tired of suburban life, hitchhiked across America, to live a life of solitude, touching the hearts of everyone he met along the way.
The film beautifully integrates Vedder’s award-winning music into McCandless’s simplistic life. Chris’ thoughts regarding his inability to preserve close friendships, his distaste for material objects, and his feelings, in general, are shared in the title track “Guaranteed”. The song sticks with audiences after seeing the haunting yet tragic film.
“Mrs. Robinson” (“The Graduate” – 1967)
This 1967 classic starring a young Dustin Hoffman, gives the public a glimpse of a more than complicated mother/daughter relationship. A must-have in any cinephile’s arsenal, the film amped up the music of folk duo, Simon and Garfunkel, now two of the most iconic musicians not only in their genre, but also in the music industry.
“Mrs. Robinson” is one of the couple’s most famous and beloved songs, with the title directly referencing the temptress in the film. The simple, raw vocals paired with the straightforward acoustic guitar will inject that indispensable element of upbeat folk music, a perfect gateway into the genre.
“Star City” (‘La La Land’ – 2016)
Easily considered one of the most powerful films of the 2010s, Damien Chazelleit is aesthetically stunning musical The Earth stormed the critics. The soundtrack filled radio stations and public phones, with the writer Justin Hurwitz like the lyrical genius behind the songs.
The main theme song “City of Stars” has Ryan Gosling using his deep voice like Seb, the struggling and brooding jazz pianist. The simplistic piano and more understated nature of the song contrasts with the huge uplifting leads played throughout the rest of the song. It takes the film perfectly back to the roots of Gosling’s character and his journey to “Star City”.
“Skyfall” (‘Skyfall’ – 2012)
Although the james bond themes belong to their own list, “Skyfall” deserves a place on this list. Adele’s soulful, rich tone is perfect for 007 and a perfect complement to Bond theme songs. Win two Oscars, two BAFTAS and two Grammys, celestial fall is the only James Bond film to gross over $1 billion worldwide, sending the song into the stratosphere.
Adele is one of Britain’s most adored musicians, with her immense talent for lyrics and powerful voice. Releasing her song on “James Bond Day” marking the franchise’s 50th anniversary, Adele swept the world with this incredibly loud and powerful song. A powerful addition to anyone’s reading list.
“Come What May” (‘Moulin Rouge’ – 2001)
The visually complex and stunning musical jukebox red Mill consists of a variety of songs spanning all genres and blended with the essence of musical theatre. From the rich soundtrack, there are some standout songs, and “Come What May” perfectly embodies the love and longing between Satine and Christian, unaware of what’s to come soon.
McGregor’s soft voice and Kidman’s sultry tones blend perfectly to express the embodiment of love. The lyrical innocence of the film’s tragedy sticks with the audience. A playlist always needs romantic songs scattered among the rest, and it would be a shame not to feature this one.
Next:The Academy Award Winning Movie Soundtracks of the Decade: 1990 – 1999