A film’s soundtrack can either make or break the cinematic experience, and in some instances, the theme song of a movie can become more iconic than the movie itself! From grandiose scores to sultry ballads, we list the best movie theme songs of all time, in no particular order.
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion: Titanic, 1997
Celine Dion’s heart-wrenching power ballad left not a dry eye in the house, and although Titanic as a movie is an undeniable classic, this theme song almost surpasses the movie’s fame. As soon as Dion hits those high notes, “near, far wherever you are”, the floodgates open and one is transported to the scene of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet pretending to “fly” at the bow of the doomed ship. The heart would’ve been able to go on just fine, if you ask us – if only Winslet had made space for Jack on the floating door.
The Time of My Life – Frank Previte: Dirty Dancing, 1987
This could be seen as number one case of a movie being arguably less famous than its theme songs. This timeless classic was made specifically for the movie, by songwriter Frank Previte who had only $100 in his bank account when his music label asked him to pen a song for a movie. Apparently, the late Patrick Swayze, the movie’s lead actor, claimed that the song made them enjoy the filming process more. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t recall the climatic, euphoric final dance scene in the movie that saw Swayze and co-star Jennifer Grey fly around the dancefloor, giddily in love.
Theme song from Jaws, 1975
Who hasn’t chanted the Jaws theme song when swimming in the ocean, or a swimming pool, conjuring up images of that terrifying monster shark hellbent on eating everything in its path? Although not a traditional song, this score from Jaws builds suspense and will forever be iconic and unmistakable upon hearing the very first notes.
Theme song from Mission: Impossible, 1996
Another film score, another unmistakable sound. Suspense and excitement are ranked up to a fever pitch upon the first few notes of this theme song. Apparently, composer Lalo Schifrin created the tune in just three minutes. Now, when you hear it, you immediately think of Tom Cruise rollicking around on screen, doing death-defying stunts and general spy-related activities.
Ghostbusters – Ray Parker, Jr: Ghostbusters, 1984
Who you gonna call? We bet you know the answer to that one! That’s because the Ghostbusters theme song is so iconic that it was even nominated for the Best Original Song award at the 57th Academy Awards. The song didn’t win the award, unfortunately, but has certainly won hearts around the world. Even to this day, decades later, everyone knows it, and exactly what movie it belongs to.
Kiss From a Rose – Seal: Batman Forever, 1995
Although Seal released the song a year before Batman Forever came out, once the song was featured on the movie’s soundtrack, it reached iconic status beyond the star’s wildest dreams. After being a part of the movie’s soundtrack, the song earned Seal three Grammy Awards! Although it seems a strange song for a superhero movie, it worked perfectly and added passion and soul to the cult classic addition to the Batman franchise.
Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey: James Bond Goldfinger, 1964
One of the most iconic James Bond movies needs its very own iconic theme songs! Goldfinger, performed by Shirley Bassey, set just the right tone for Sean Connery to work his on-screen magic for the third movie in the James Bond franchise. In 2008, Goldfinger, the song, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and it is still performed at live shows in Las Vegas to this day.
Men in Black – Will Smith: Men in Black, 1997
If you think about it, Will Smith rapping about a fictional government agency that polices aliens on earth seems ludicrous, but in the context of the movie, it works perfectly. Smith’s classic song about the “galaxy defenders” really compliments the story and is now one of the most famous movie theme songs of all time. The song earned Smith a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance and we really feel like the movie would be nothing without it!
Die Another Day – Madonna: James Bond Die Another Day, 2002
Another James Bond movie, and another case where its theme songs really put the cherry on top of a good production. Producers of Die Another Day, the movie, wanted a really famous singer to perform the theme song, and they couldn’t have gotten anyone more famous than Madonna! Although the song was met by mixed reviews, Madonna still went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination and two Grammys.
So many movies, so many songs
It’s hard to gather the best movie theme songs of all time into one list, when there are so many great movies and ensuing soundtracks out there. Some more honorable mentions for this list include Happy by Pharrell Williams, from Despicable Me 2, Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey from the Great Gatsby, and Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio from Dangerous Minds. We don’t know about you, but we’re ready to binge some timeless classic movies and revel in all these glorious soundtracks!