The 15 Greatest Movie Songs of All Time

by Ivana Hamilton February 21, 2019

The 15 Greatest Movie Songs of All Time

A song specifically made for a movie can not only elevate the viewer’s experience but also make music history! In some cases, the theme songs became even bigger than the actual movies! Here is a reminder of the 15 greatest movie songs (in no particular order) that topped charts, won awards and are still part of our lives.

1. “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly (“Space Jam”)

I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly for Space Jam

Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” has a strong gospel vibe which was just what Michael Jordan, and his Warner Bros buddies among which Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck needed for an emotional ending in “Space Jam.”

2. “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio (“Dangerous Minds”)

Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio Dangerous Minds

The blonde bombshell Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed an ex-marine who becomes a teacher in a notorious inner-city high school with underachieving teens. Coolio made “Gangsta’s Paradise” as a theme song, but the song turned out to be a huge success just like the movie itself. It was one of the best-selling singles of 1995. Additionally, Coolio was awarded a Grammy for a best solo rap performance.

3. “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams (“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”)

Everything I Do I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Bryan Adams’ song was a perfect fit for Robin Hood, and a hit on its own. Besides being named Billboard No. 1 song of 1991, it also won Grammy Awards and was nominated for an Oscar. Fast forward to the today, “Everything I Do” is one one of the best evergreen romantic songs.

4. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams (“Despicable Me 2”)

Happy by Pharrell Williams Despicable Me 2

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams it’s one of the happiest songs on earth that became just as big as the movie. The artist won a Grammy for best pop solo performance, and the upbeat retro soul track brought him many nominations among which Academy nomination for Best Original Song, AMAs nomination for Single of the Year, and many more.

5. “Flashdance … What a Feeling” by Irene Cara (“Flashdance”)

Flashdance What a Feeling by Irene Cara Flashdance

Aspiring dancer Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) danced to the beats of Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling” in the all-time classic “Flashdance.” The song turned out to be one of the most successful movie songs ever made and won Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe. It was the No. 3 single of 1983, and made it to the Billboard’s All-time Top 100 in 2008 on the 26th position.

6. “Moon River” by Audrey Hepburn (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”)

Moon River by Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s

It wasn’t only the black Givenchy dress from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” that got all the attention. Audrey Hepburn’s alluring interpretation of “Moon River” won Academy Award for Best Original Song.

7. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds (“The Breakfast Club”)

Dont You Forget About Me by Simple Minds The Breakfast Club

Simple Minds managed to make a song that didn’t stay in the shadow of its movie. However, it was the first and last hit for the band. Legend says that “Don’t You Forget About Me” was arranged and recorded in only 3 hours.

8. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem (“8 Mile”)

Lose Yourself by Eminem 8 Mile

Rapper Eminem made history with “Lose Yourself” that he wrote, performed and produced for the cult drama “8 Mile.” It was the first-ever rap song to win an Oscar. The song was also ranked No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not to mention Eminem’s magnificent performance in the movie!

9. “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees (“Saturday Night Fever”)

Stayin Alive by The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever

“Stayin’ Alive” reached even more success than the movie, defining the entire disco era. The upbeat track topped Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks.

10. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (“Rocky III”)

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor Rocky III

Sylvester Stallone originally wanted to use Queen’s song “Another One Bites the Dust” as a theme for his movie “ Rocky III.” However, the band didn’t give him permission, which made the actor tap Survivor to make the theme song for the movie. Thanks to Queen’s rejection, Sylvester Stallone got one of the best original movie songs in history. “Eye of a Tiger” won a Grammy for best rock performance, topped Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks in a row and was sold in over 9 million copies.  

11. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion (“Titanic”)

My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion Titanic

Celine Dion and her angelic voice were the perfect addition to Jack’s (Leonardo di Caprio) and Rose’s (Kate Winslet) heartbreaking story. The recognizable beats of “My Heart Will Go On” started a whole new trend in the film industry: every big movie in the ‘90s got a romantic song as a theme.

12. "Danger Zone" Kenny Loggins (“Top Gun”)

Danger Zone Kenny Loggins Top Gun

Kenny Loggins has made songs for many movies, but “Danger Zone” was his biggest success. Top Gun’s soundtrack ranked No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986.

13. "I've Had the Time of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (“Dirty Dancing”)

I've Had the Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes Dirty Dancing

Based on the title, Bill Medley thought that the movie sounds like a “bad porno,” and originally said no to the producers. Believe it or not, Patrick Swayze was not a big star at that time, the company that made the movie was new and unknown, and no one cared enough to make a soundtrack for them. Warnes wasn’t really impressed by the idea either, but he eventually agreed to take part. Just days after the release of the movie and the song all those big shots who rejected to contribute realized that they have turned down a major hit. “I’ve Had The Time of My Life” won many awards among which Academy Award for "Best Original Song," a Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Song," and a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.

14. “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel (“The Graduate”)

Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel The Graduate

Simon and Garfunkel was the favorite band of “The Graduate” director Mike Nichols. He was hoping to get permission to use a few of their songs, but singer Paul Simon had a better idea: to write a few new songs for the movie. Surprisingly, Mike Nichols wasn’t impressed with the songs presented, but the collaboration didn’t stop there. When the band presented “Mrs. Robinson” to Nichols, he gladly accepted the song. It was the first rock song to win a Grammy record of the year. “Mrs. Robinson” also topped Billboard Hot 100 and was covered by legendary singers among which Frank Sinatra and Bon Jovi.

15. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston (“The Bodyguard”)

I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston The Bodyguard

Whitney Huston’s “I Will Always Love You” is unarguably one of the greatest love songs ever made. Gaining even greater popularity than the movie in which she starred, this track flawlessly delivered by the legendary singer will always have a special spot on our music list. Many have forgotten that this song was originally written and performed by Dolly Parton and made history as the only country song to reach No. 1 in three separate decades.

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