The Screening Room Blog
Friday, August 24, 2007
Top 10 of Movie Music
Hello everyone,

This month, we're celebrating music in the movies.

It's always a struggle to whittle down our top 10 list, but this month it proved impossible. So we've taken our ten favorite songs -- one from each of ten movie genres. And there were still some tantrums in the office... so we've drawn up our top ten original soundtracks, too.

The Screening Room's Top 10 Movie Songs >>

The Screening Room's Top 10 Movie Scores >>

From "Singin' in the Rain" to "Over the Rainbow," from Ennio Morricone to John Williams, what's your favorite movie music? Which classics have we missed out? Share your thoughts!
What? No "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun. Your failure to include this leaves me breathless. Surely it should also include Harold Faltemeyer's "Axel F" from Beverly Hills Cop and "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr. Classics All.
The Sound of Music should be

In the ones we love to hate you forgot "Wind Beneath My Wings". Don't get me wrong, I liked it the first 20,000 times I heard it. I even liked it the first 500 times it was dedicated to a friend or family member that lived far away. But we are way past that point.

On the other hand, you forgot "The Rose" in the list of the best ones.

Just trying to be fair with Ms. Midler.
Ennio Morricone's best score is for the 1997 Adrian Lyne version of Lolita, which is surely worthy of the top ten.
How on earth could you overlook "Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"??! The Henry Mancini score, the Capote script, Audrey Hepburn as the aptly named Holly Golightly, wistfully singing and searching for what's "waiting round the bend"--the song sets the mood for the entire movie. A TRUE classic.
"Everybody Wants to Rule The World" from Real Genius and the music from Last of the Mohicans!
I second a nomination for "Ghostbusters." It's one of those People's Favorites that always gets omitted from lists like this. I'd also like to give props to Kenny Loggins' "Footloose," Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," and Simple Mind's "Don't You Forget About Me."
There is no question that James Newton Howard's 2 soundtracks for The Village and Snow Falling On Cedars are 2 of the most incredible soundtracks out there. My CD collection is almost all soundtracks and these are 2 of the best.

But let's not forget GREASE!
For fanatics only: Hoyt Axton's 'They can't take that away' theme to terrible flick, Buster and Billy still haunts me and I can't find it.
For slick song writing and performance, plus Oscar: Little Mr Williams' Evergreen performed by Striesand.
Not including South Pacific, and West Side Story, Man of La Mancha, Sound of Music hits simply underscores the steady decline of mankind.
Are you kiddin ? The song that should top your quest is Night Fever by the Bee Gees, theme of Saturday Night Fever. This soundtrack was so powerfull that is:

1) The best selling album of all time
2) One of the best selling singles of all time
3) One of the most played songs in the history of radio Worldwide.

And the only soundtrack that can boast the tag "Ahh, that's the movie of the album" not the album of the movie like the rest of this list
Where's beat street?
I get the feeling that once you included one John Williams soundtrack (E.T) you decided that you could not include ANY others.

This leaves out some of the most enduring and recognizable movie music of all time: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Superman (arguably the best opening credit score ever.)

I also detect a distinct bias to movie soundtracks of a more recent vintage. No Korngold? This list is incomplete without The Adventures of Robin Hood.
for me one of the best songs ever is "In your eyes" from "Say anything". And I second the nomination for "donĀ“t you forget about me"
"For your eyes only"
Hey, what about:
1.- Gladiator by Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
2.- The Last of the Mohican's by Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman ... my personal favorite

.... and others like Breavehart, The Last Samurai, Cinema Paradiso, Babel, Blade Runner.

I know it's very hard to choose just 10...but there are giant omissions.
If you want to put goosebumps on your goosebumps, it has to be the end of Yentil when Barbara Streisand does "Papa". No body can sing like she does.
The Singles soundtrack from the movie Singles should be on the list. Every song is good, and includes great bands such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
Music that can actually make you cry - the score to OUT OF AFRICA.
How bout Midnight Cowboy .... Everyone's Talkin at me ...
Midnight Cowboy ... Everyone's talkin at me ..
Since the plot of "8 Mile" is directly copied from "Purple Rain," why isn't Prince's power ballad on the list instead of the lame "Lose Yourself?"
What about Evergreen from A Star is Born by Barbra? To me the best movie soundtrack has to be from Saturday Night Fever.
The top accomplishment of a soundtrack is being able stand on its own for listening enjoyment (without the movie), but still still serve as an enhancement to the mood of a movie when played together. Vangelis' soundtrack for "Blade Runner" is definitely a top 10 for achieving this effect.
How can you complete any movie or tv songlist without including the theme from M*A*S*H*....."Suicide is Painless" by Johnny Mandel?
How could you possibly forget Kenny Loggins, Song: Danger Zone
from the movie Top Gun? That song was the movie.
No, No - "I dont want to miss a thing"? trite, predictable, lame, utterly stupid. Dreadful choice. Shouldn't be in the top million movie songs.
We should not forget a movie dedicated to music itself - "FM" from 1978. Songs:

"FM (No Static At All)"
Performed by Steely Dan

"Night Moves"
Performed by Bob Seger

"Fly Like an Eagle"
Performed by Steve Miller
How on earth could you have neglected to include the incredibly epic and beautiful score of Once Upon a Time in the West?! With each characters having their distinct theme, all so strong and recognizable! The music is literally almost another living breathing character in that film, I can't believe it was left out!
Honestly, CNN, how could you find room in a top ten movie song list for a Dirty Dancing number nobody remembers, and fail to include "Do Re Mi" from Sound of Music?

It boggles the mind.
I agree "Moon River" is up there, but my fave is definitely "El Tango De Roxanne" from Moulin Rouge.
My favourite two songs from the movies are Aerosmith's "I don't want to miss a tbing" from Armageddon, already number 4 in your top 10, and "How Deep is Your Love" by the Bee Gees from Saturday Night Fever....I think they are unforgettable love songs....and both have great lyrics and music....
Excuse me, but...are you all out of your minds? You started off really well, and then by #3, you coasted downhill to oblivion. At the very least you could have included "Somewhere" from West Side Story, which has the finest musical score of all time. (Almost every song from that musical is a classic.) You also missed "As Long As He Needs Me," from Oliver, but that can be somewhat forgiven. There were so many musical scores from the 1950s and 1960s, it's hard to believe you couldn't come up with something better than, say, the theme to Armageddon.

By the way, who participated in this survey? Only people under the age of 30?
What about "In your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel from the movie Say Anything??? That movie spawned a million crushes on John Cusack and forever bound the image of him looking both determined and decidedly tormented by heartbreak to Peter Gabriel's song for pretty much all eternity.
you missed the best of all..."Raindrops keep Fallin on my Head" from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Great movie, great song, great scene with Paul Newman and Katherine Ross on the bicycle. The other great one you missed was "Mrs Robinson" from The Graduate!!! How Could YOU!!!
Did everyone forget about Grease? That movie was full of songs to choose from....Summer Nights...The one that I want....I gave you guys more credit that the picks you chose. All though I agree with some of them, how can Beauty and the Beast beat Grease??? I like that song, but come on.
The Bear Necessities from The Jungle Book.


Anything from Mary Poppins.
I defy you to stand still during the opening 5 minutes of "The Buddy Holley Story" when Gary Busey and the boys rip through "Ollie V"
Absolutely riveting.
Here are a few unmentioned

Preety Woman, Preety Woman
Greese, Your The One That I Want
Footloose, Footloose
Preety In Pink, If You Leave
City of Angels, City of Angels
St. Elmos Fire,
Say Anything, In Your Eyes
I absolutely love the Cinderella soundtrack by Disney with "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" and "So This is Love" . . . I sometimes fastforward through the movie just to hear each song, even though I have the soundtrack on CD.

I was absolute in my choice, and then I read someone else's post which noted Andy Williams' "Moon River." That is another absolute favorite of mine.
The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and the title song of Car Wash. They both take you right back to that era in an instant.
Are you kidding me? Katie runs her fingers through Hubbell's hair and rushes back through the New York traffic. The unforgettable humming begins...The Way We Were. Hands down.
What about Bernard Herrman and his soundtracks for Citizen Kane and Psycho? Or Thomas Newman's work on American Beauty? Or the soundtrack to Hard Days Night?
I second Top Gun with "Danger Zone"
I love all of the songs from The Wiz!
You referred to "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as Danny Elfman's best work. I respectfully disagree with you. "Edward Scissorhands" is far and away his best.

Some noteworthy scores you also missed: "The Sting" (Marvin Hamlisch); "The Cider House Rules" (Rachel Portman); "Dances With Wolves" (John Barry); "Field of Dreams" (James Horner).

"Saturday Night Fever"? Are you kidding? Also, the posters who mentioned the likes of "Take My Breath Away" and "Ghostbusters" need to take a remedial course in music scores.
How could Blade Runner be excluded from a list like this? I've long considered it to be the pinnacle of motion picture soundtracks. Princess Mononoke was also amazing, although I respect your picking Lord of the Rings for "that genre." I don't agree on most of you list, but I can't even respect the last three. You would almost have to live the lifestyle to appreciate those movies and their music. They couldn't be more foreign (and lame) to a person under 35.
...erm..... The Rose by Bette Midler?

Lust for Life ~ Iggy Pop
Having read the above list as a soundtrack listener, it seems to me that the list should not include Singin' in the Rain, Saturday Night Fever, This is Spinal Tap and Purple Rain. The music for these films may be wonderful but is in a different class than the other titles mentioned because of the genre of the film. (That would be like comparing apples with oranges.)
Now of course making a top 10 list is very difficult and highly personal but even then, this list should not overlook composer names like Bernard Herrmann, Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein, Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith, Miklos Rosza, Dimitri Tiomkin, Basil Poledouris, Michael Kamen and so many others.
Sorry but I found the list only partially satisfactory. My list would certainly include:
1. Elmer Bernstein-
to kill a Mocking Bird
2. Alex North-Cleopatra
3.Jerry Goldsmith-
Star Trek The Motion Picture
4. Jerry Goldsmith-Under Fire
5.Basil Poledouris-
Conan the Barbarian
6.John Williams- Superman the movie
7.John Barry- King Kong (1976)
8.Ennio Morricone-The Untouchables
9.Bernard Herrmann-Psycho
10.Max Steiner-King Kong (1933)
I hope this will serve to open some eyes to the music used in films before the ones you may have seen in the cinema in recent days. Music in the movies has been around since the very early 1930's and there are many many many more wonderful examples than the ones I mentioned in my list.

Thanks for letting me rant on about this.
Max Steiner!! There is no list withoug Max Steiner. He's the father of soundtracks.

My personal favorite is King Kong(1933). But, between 1932 and 1964, he scored more classic films than anyone else.
Oh, come on. When you mention movie scores, how can you leave out Bernard Hermann? Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (still makes me cry), The Day the Earth Stood Still, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver...and pick any Hitchcock film--is there anyone out there who doesn't immediately recognize those screaming violins from the shower scene in Psycho?
Don't laugh but I still cry when I hear Baby Mine from the Disney cartoon Dumbo. I think it is one of the best!
The Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty in Pink" from the movie of the same name.
For best movie track, my top nomination (although it wasn't written for the movies) has to be Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets. Not only did it revolutionize the music world when it was used as the theme for Blackboard Jungle, it also redefined a generation in American Graffitti, and added coolness to films such as Superman: The Movie and Bull Durham.

Second place goes to For Your Eyes Only by Sheena Easton. Yeah, it was early-80s technopop at it's most obvious, but it still remains the best James Bond theme song.

In terms of worst movie song, I have to nominate Bette Midler's butchering of Wind Beneath My Wings from Beaches, which is painful to listen to, especially compared to superior versions by Sheena Easton and, well, just about everyone else.

Second place for worst song has to be Licence to Kill by Gladys Knight from the Bond film of the same name. It's still the only Bond theme that nearly puts me to sleep.
How could you overlook the theme from "The Pink Panther" movies, or "Tara's Theme" from Gone With The Wind? Barbra singing "Don't Rain on my Parade" from Funny Girl? The Soundtrack to the Exorcist? Halloween? The Godfather?

but thank you for totally ignoring "Fame"...
Peter Gabriel's Passion, the soundtrack to Last Temptation of Christ.
The late Basil Poledouris has not been acknowledged for the great legacy of movies scores he left. Robocop, The Hunt For Red October, Lonesome Dove, Red Dawn, and my personal favorite Conan The Barbarian.
1. Sophie's Choice (Marvin Hamlisch, I believe; oh, that Brooklyn Bridge Scene)

2. The Untouchables (Ennio Morricone)

3. Tie: The Thornbirds (don't know who) and Glory (James Horner)
Don Juan Demarco and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman".

God, I hate that tune.
I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing is one of the top 10???? Good grief.

What about Blaze of Glory by Jon Bon Jovi?
I must agree with many of the comments. Bernard Herrmanns' Psycho is a must. Also, Jerry Goldsmith. He turned a schlocky horror movie on it's ear with THE OMEN and the tonalities of PLANET OF THE APES still stick in the mind after all these years. As does the baroque score Williams did for THE FURY. It's little known, but a knockout.
What about Henry Mancini "Moon River" for Breakfast at Tiffany's?
What about Grease? There we're some great songs and a couple of real stinkers in there. And now as a mom I've had to sit through High School Musical and HSM2. I hate to admit I can sing along with most of the songs.
I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys

The Departed...becoming an instant classic for us Bostonians. The boys of Dropkick do our home justice and add the harcore spirit our city has always grasped.

When that song comes on in any bar, all we think of is Jack Nicholson's last bullet-riddled smile and the whole room lifts a toast of Guiness.
My vote goes to Footloose, by Kenny Loggins. That song still makes me want to get up and dance all these years later!
Prince's "Purple Rain". Great power and emotion. Not a bad musician either!! :)
An Officer and a Gentelmen;
Song Up Where We Belong;
Performed by Jeniffer Warnes and Joe Cocker;
Written by Douglas Day Stewart; Director Taylor Hackford;
Year 1982; Romance;
A movie that you can watch over and over again and find something new.
Won 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 13 nominations;

Great cast!
An Officer and a Gentlemen;
Starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger;
Song Up Where We Belong;
Performed by Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker;
Written by Douglas Day Stewart
Director: Taylor Hackford
Year: 1982
A movie that you can watch over and over again and find something new each time to love about it.
Great cast: David Keith, Robert Loggia, Lisa Blount, Lisa Eilbacher, Louis Gossett, Jr., David Caruso and Victor French
Won 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 13 nominations.
How could anyone forget the soundtrack to "Star Wars"! One of the most recognizable movie themes ever!
"Shrek" is littered with hot tunes from the opening credit sequence featuring Smashmouth's "All-Star" to the 'Fairytale Idol' closing. Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" is perfect for the amusing wrestling contest scene.
top gun - you lost that lovin' feeling
I think the "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago should be in the top 10.
"Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhizago should be in the top 10.
Folks, it's SONGS WITH WORDS, not instrumental music. I think "Singin' in the Rain" from "Singin' in the Rain" has to be on the favorite list. And "Can't Buy Me Love" from "A Hard Days Night." Those two songs are a joyous celebration of life. You can't watch those scenes without a dumb smile on your face. Also "I Could've Danced All Night" from "My Fair Lady."
Gone with the Wind? One of the most memorable soundtracks, as well as the best, in the history of movies.
Dr. Zhivago
"Stuck In the Middle With You" from Reservoir Dogs.... is there any other popular song that conjures the image of the film more suscinctly than that SINGLE song?
Staying alive should be in the top ten.
Thank god you left off "Let it Be" and "Live and Let die" - would of actually thught you liked The Beatles or former Beatles if you had put either of those on the list.
Pulp Fiction

Shrek & Shrek II (for the whole family)
My all-time favourite is Harold and Maude (Cat Stevens)

Second would be the entire soundtrack from O'Brother Where Art Thou...

Third, Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead...
The song that's been grossly overlooked is "Kissing You" by Des'ree from the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet." Everytime I hear that song, I cry.
You're not serious...where's any of the Sound of Music songs? It's just a movie most people have seen more than a dozen times and probably quietly sang-a-long to. I like 8 Mile a lot but it's certainly not one of the Top Ten.
No Last Dance by Donna Summer? This song has taken on iconic status in our culture.
I absolutely love the Harry Potter soundtracks. The 3rd movie inparticular, its much darker than the first two, but still composed by John Williams. "Hedwig's Theme" is just amazing everytime I hear it.
And what about "Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Love it.
my favorite movie soundtracks:

"Purple Rain"
"Superfly" (Curtis Mayfield)
"Saturday Night Fever" (Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, et al)
"Waiting to Exhale"
Now that I've managed to pull myself together..."Don't Wanna Miss a Thing"? You're kidding, right? "I don't wanna close my eyes, don't wanna fall asleep, 'cause I'd miss you baby, and I don't wanna miss a thing." Sorry, but that is arguably one of the LAMEST lyrics ever written. Filling up syllables because dear old Diane didn't really have anything to say. I can't even get started on the predictability of the music. If you must chose a song from the Action/Adventure genre, my vote would be "How Do I Live" from ConAir. Admittedly even that song's not in the same league with "Over the Rainbow", but the genre itself hasn't actually genuinely inspired a great writer yet.

Total agreement, however, on the song that goes on and on and on and....
What about Elliott Smith's "Miss Misery" from Good Will Hunting? I'm sure alot more people would remember it if Celine Dion hadn't robbed him of the Oscar that year.
What about "Somewhere" from West Side Story?" Don't forget that one!
any song from fiddler on the roof
Singin' in the rain as per Gene Kelly should be there...I disagree with I don't wanna miss a thing from Armageddon...but whatever happened to Edelweiss from Sound of Music? That's a classic! And of course Eliza Doolitle (Audrey Hepburn) and her "wouldn't it be lovely?" Yes, wouldn't it???
" Stand by me "
In the movie Stand by me
Two words: Purple Rain
What about "Love On The Rocks" by Neil Diamond in The Jazz Singer. Great song for a great movie.
Ok, number one hit it right on the head, and #2 was right as well, but then you get all off track. Moon River by Henry Mancini from Breakfast at Tiffany's, Raindrops keep Falling on My Head from Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid and Mrs. Robinson from the Graduate? how did you miss these? and the Way We Were? Somewhere from Westside Story? The Sound of Music? In Your Eyes from Say Anything? and Hurdy Gurdy Man from Zodiac? all exceptionally well placed songs in great movies. I think the crowd at the water cooler were all a bunch of generation x'ers. and how you even named 8 Mile without naming a prince song is beyond me. Wayyyy off on this list.
What about "All that Jazz" form Chicago? Or anything form the 'Sound of Music?
I believe that Frou Frou's "Let Go" at the end of the movie GARDEN STATE is one of the best songs in a movie. The song's lyrics are deep especially to us "20 something year olds" and our own search for ourself and letting one's self open up to others. This plays at the pivitol point in the movie in which Zack Braff's character in the movie has finally come to realize that he has found what he finally wants and that is for someone to love him for who he is. I might be too serious about this blog, but the song and movie really had an effect on me and that is when I feel like a song in a movie really is one of the best. When it actually has some type of life altering experience upon the person listening/watching it. And if you think that "Let Go" is the only song that is superb on the movie soundtrack then you would be wrong. In my mind the soundtrack actually helped to make the movie as good as it was. So check it out
"Let Go" at the end of GARDEN STATE was the best song in a movie. Actually the whole soundtrack made the movie ten times better than it would have been without it. The song really helps to convey the transformation that Zack Braff's character has finally made by the end of the film. The movie and song changed my life and I feel that any song that can have that type of effect has to be one of the top ten in a movie.
"Coming Around Again" by Carly Simon - from "Heartburn"!
You've forgotten, "To Sir With Love", by Lulu.
You've also missed, "The Best of Everything," by Johnny Mathis.
(Films of the same name).
Ill agree for Take My Breath Away from Top Gun... and Danger Zone.

But I must add I Cross My Heart from Pure Country. That is one of the best sceens from that movie when he sings that song
Chariots of Fire should have made the best score list.
Let the river run-Carly Simon

Richard's window (from the tearjerker The other side of the mountain)-Olivia Newton-John

Xanadu-Olivia Newton-John

Suddenly (Xanadu)-Olivia Newton-John

Living in desperate times (Two of a kind)- Olivia Newton-John

Twist of fate )Two of a kind) - Olivia Newton-John

Hopelessly devoted to you (Grease) - Olivia Newton-John

You're the one that I want (Grease) - Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta

Summer Nights (Grease) - Olivia Newton-John

and so much more!!!!
I can't believe Flashdance was not included. The movie wasn't great, but the soundtrack was fantastic.
Its evident to me that good musicians in the modern age of the music industry get pushed to the "Underground scene" and leave poor souls like these still living in the past, the only song i agree with is mad world, but you guys are missing out on Clint Mansells "Lux Aeterna" in requiem for a dream or teams sleeps "The Passportal" done on "The Matrix"
Missed a couple of the best:
"Singin' In the Rain"
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
"Ease on Down the Road"
"Streets of Philadelphia"

Guilty Pleasures:
"The Way We Were"
"Pretty In Pink"
"Kiss From a Rose"
"I Believe I Can Fly"
I think leaving out James Horner's lovely, lilting score for "Field of Dreams" was a huge mistake. Just the brass solo was worth the price of admission.
First off, you should leave scores to scores, and not soundtracks. I wouldn't consider the score to Purple Rain, but possibly the soundtrack, at least imo.

Speaking of scores: there are definitely some I feel you missed:
Last of the Mochians
Children of Dune (from the SciFi Miniseries)
Thank god you left off "Let it Be" and "Live and Let die" - would of actually thught you liked The Beatles
Why only American and British films? The soundtrack from Amelie, the French hit around ten years ago, is in my opinion the best and most memorable score composed. The composer is Yan Tierson, who also did Goodbye Lenin.
We liked the music from "Diva" starring Christopher Lambert.
by far in my oppinion the departed im shipping up to boston by dropkick murphy
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