I often refer to the 1980s, the decade of my teen years, as the golden era of pop music. It was also a period which produced some brilliant movie soundtracks: Flashdance, Pretty in Pink, Footloose and Top Gun to name just four, all of which produced multiple hits. But was 1985 the best ever year for great songs from the movies?
Let’s examine the evidence. Here are ten great soundtrack songs which all celebrate their 30th birthday this year.
1. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
Film: The Breakfast Club. UK singles chart: 7.
One of the greatest movie anthems ever from the definitive Brat Pack film, this was the rallying cry for a generation seeking to establish its own identity. My generation.
2. Holding Out For a Hero – Bonnie Tyler
Film: Footloose. UK singles chart: 2.
Originally released the previous year, when it barely dented the top 100, this thumping, rasping track was held off the top spot three weeks running by Bowie and Jagger’s Live Aid cover of Dancing in the Street.
As an aside for trivia fiends, the song was also the theme music for the short-lived US spy series Cover Up. This was notable for having to re-cast one of its leading roles when star Jon-Erik Hexum suffered a fatal accident after placing a prop gun containing a blank cartridge to his head and pulling the trigger.
3. Into the Groove – Madonna
Film: Desperately Seeking Susan. UK singles chart: 1.
Desperately Seeking Susan is still Madonna’s best film performance and this remains one of her finest pop songs ever. In every respect, this is a quintessential get-up-and-dance 1980s classic.
4. The Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News
Film: Back to the Future. UK singles chart: 11. (Reached number 9 on re-release in 1986.)
This track appears on no fewer than three occasions in Back to the Future and can also be heard in both its sequels. It’s almost impossible to think of the movie without immediately remembering the song, and vice versa.
A little snippet of trivia: Huey Lewis himself makes a cameo appearance in the original film – he’s one of the judges at the Battle of the Bands audition.
5. St Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) – John Parr
Film: St Elmo’s Fire. UK singles chart: 6.
The title track from the film of the same name, another coming-of-age tale starring several members of the Brat Pack. It’s an all-American film, but John Parr is actually a British artist.
Incidentally, the Man in Motion reference has nothing to do with the film itself. The song was originally written for Canadian wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion round-the-world tour, which he was doing to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries.
6. Axel F – Harold Faltermeyer
Film: Beverly Hills Cop. UK singles chart: 2.
This was one of two iconic synthpop film themes the German musician/producer was responsible for – he also co-wrote the Grammy Award-winning instrumental anthem for Top Gun.
The song takes its title from Beverly Hills Cop‘s lead character: Eddie Murphy’s Detroit detective Axel Foley.
7. A View to a Kill – Duran Duran
Film: A View to a Kill. UK singles chart: 2.
The film which gave this song its name is widely regarded as one of the worst (if not the worst) entry in the James Bond canon. However, although Duran Duran’s track is one of the most pop-oriented theme songs in the series, it’s also the most successful. Only Adele’s Skyfall can match its number two chart peak in the UK, while it remains the only Bond theme ever to claim the top spot in the US. I actually rather like it.
8. Crazy For You – Madonna
Film: Vision Quest. UK singles chart: 2.
Hands up if you’ve seen the film this song is from? No, me neither. It’s a coming-of-age love story between a high school wrestler and an older woman, and is most notable for a cameo appearance by Madonna, who performs both this memorable track – the first ballad she ever released as a single – and the rather less memorable Gambler.
You could be forgiven for thinking every 1980s film was about teenagers coming of age. You’d be wrong. But not that wrong.
9. The Heat is On – Glenn Frey
Film: Beverly Hills Cop. UK singles chart: 12.
Driven on by its instantly recognisable saxophone riff, this was by far the biggest hit for the former Eagles singer and multi-instrumentalist. Indeed, in reaching number 12 in the UK, it reached a level that the legendary rock band only surpassed with Hotel California.
10. Body Rock – Maria Vidal
Film: Body Rock. UK singles chart: 11.
A dance-pop anthem with a thumping drum-and-synth beat from a film that hardly anyone has seen about a young man from the streets with a talent for break-dancing. Yes, it’s a cheap knock-off of Flashdance and Footloose, but without the charm of either.
I’ve seen Body Rock. It’s a truly awful movie. But the song is terrific, creating a one-hit wonder out of its American singer.
So that’s my top ten. Do you agree? Or have I omitted some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.