80’s Movie Soundtracks = Movie Musicals

June 24, 2019

By Tab Byrum

Yesterday at lunch Michael came in singing “What A Feeling” from “Fame”, he had heard it on the radio, then it was stuck in our heads and we got to talking about all the great music that came out of the 1980s on movie soundtracks. Today movie musicals are kind of having a rebirth, both on the big screen and the TV, and that got me thinking about how all those 80’s flicks with great music were kind of the movie musical for that decade. My best friend and I bought cassettes together and would ride around for hours in his car listening to the latest and several of them were movie soundtracks, especially this time of year when everyone would have their windows rolled down and a group of us would pull over late at night under a streetlight, listen to music and talk and tease each other about whatever. Today we’re going to look back at 10 of my favorite movie soundtracks for the ’80s and some of the songs that are indelibly written on our brains forever. Let me know what your favorites were and do you still listen to them when you have a chance. Alexa, play the soundtrack from… Enjoy!!!

Purple Rain 1984


Ah, Purple Rain, a whole movement in and of itself. The story of a character called The Kid and how he escaped his troubled home life by escaping to rehearse and perform in the First Avenue Nightclub. We got such amazing songs from this album and movie like “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Jungle Love”, “When Doves Cry”, “Darling Nikki” and the titular “Purple Rain”. This soundtrack was a sexy dance party all by itself. (via)

Top Gun 1986


The Top Gun soundtrack is one of the most popular movie soundtracks ever, staying at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for five weeks. The band Berlin performed “Take My Breath Away” which went on to win an Oscar and Kenny Loggins contributed hits like “Danger Zone” and “Playing With The Boys”.  And who can forget the Tom Cruise/Anthony Edwards version of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. (via)

Footloose 1984


Growing up in a small town in Oklahoma where dancing was frowned upon by some in the 80s I can remember being excited and nervous about this film, but once the movie started and all the amazing songs and dance sequences started I was hooked. Footloose gave us 2 more hits from Kenny Loggins in the song “Footloose” and “I’m Free” as well as fun dance tunes like “Dancing In The Sheets” by Shalamar, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by Deniece Williams and the exciting “I’m Holding Out For A Hero” from Bonnie Tyler. One of my favorite ballads of the 80s is from “Footloose”, “Almost Paradise” by Anne Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy. You Gotta Cut Loose!!!! (via)

Beverly Hills Cop 1984


Eddie Murphy was a staple in the 1980s and with “Beverly Hills Cop” in 1984 he cemented himself as a leading funny man. BHC had a ton of songs that were played throughout the 80s, I remember working out at the gym in the late 80s to songs from this soundtrack five and six years after it came out. Harold Faltermeyer’s all instrumental “Axel F” is iconic as well as two hits from Patti LaBelle with “New Attitude” and “Stir It Up”. But, who can forget and not still sing “Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters and my fave, “The Heat Is On” from Eagles’ frontman Glenn Fry.  (via)

Pretty In Pink 1986


John Hughes pretty much told all of our stories in the 1980s with the films he wrote and directed and “Pretty In Pink” is looked at today as one of the BEST films to come out of the decade. The film focuses on Andie who lives with her dad in Chicago and what goes on in her life of high school, cliques, crushes, and first loves. The movie starred Molly Ringwald, John Cryer, and Andrew McCarthy. In addition to a wonderful film, it also boasts amazing new wave songs on its soundtrack, like “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, “Pretty In Pink” by The Psychedelic Furs and “Shell Shock” from New Order. Ahh, Duckie and that hair. (via)

Less Than Zero 1987


Less Than Zero was adapted from the novel of the same name by Brett Easton Ellis, it tells the story of Clay returning home to Southern California for Christmas during his Freshman year. He joins up with his former girlfriend, Blair and his drug-addicted best friend Julian. The film focused on the lives of privilege and abuse in California at the time and the drug culture, it was controversial for its portrayals of the use of drugs and sex. While the film was dark we did get some wonderful music from it including Poison’s version of “Rock And Roll All Night” by Kiss, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Slayer, and my favorite is “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by The Bangles and written by Paul Simon. James Spader was an amazing villain. (via)

Dirty Dancing 1987


In 1987 Patrick Swayze was able to show off not only his skills as an actor but also as a dancer when he was cast as Johnny Castle in “Dirty Dancing”. The film also starred Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman and Jerry Orbach. DD told the story of Baby and what happened one Summer when she visited a holiday resort and fell in love with the dance instructor, it’s all very Romeo and Juliet with dance shoes and great music. The soundtrack was a huge hit with lots of songs from the 50s and 60 being resurrected like “Be My Baby”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, and “You Don’t Own Me.” Original songs included “The Time Of My Life” which won an Oscar and “She’s Like The Wind” sung by the leading man himself. (via)

Stand By Me 1986


“Stand By Me” is often referred to as a coming of age film as it tells the story of a group of boys and the adventure they had one summer when they go seeking the dead body of another boy their age. The film is based on a Stephen King story and takes its title from the Ben E. King song “Stand By Me” which is played over the credits. In addition to King’s iconic song, SBM used other hits from the 50s and 60s like “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters, “Great Balls Of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Everyday” by Buddy Holly, and “Let The Good Times Roll” by Shirley and Lee. This film is funny, heartbreaking, poignant and sent several acting careers into the stratosphere for River Phoenix, Will Wheaton and Jerry O’Connell. (via)

St. Elmo’s Fire 1985


St. Elmo’s Fire came out the Summer after I graduated from High School and while it’s about recent college graduates I still related to the changes they were going through in their lives and what was getting ready to happen in mine and my friends. The movie starred all the big Brat Pack stars, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, and Ally Sheedy and had a great soundtrack. Bob Seger contributed “Shakedown” “Saved My Life” by Fee Waybill and who can forget the “Love Theme From St. Elmo’s Fire” and “Man In Motion”, both by Composer David Foster. This is still one of my favorite 80s films. (via

Risky Business 1983


In the early 80s, we had “Risky Business” starring Tom Cruise as the ultimate in coming of age films that made you laugh, dance and cringe. Cruise plays Joel, a high schooler trying to please his father by getting into Princeton. Joel’s parents go out of town one weekend and he has a friend over they call a hooker, she brings friends, the hooker steals from Joel then they have an even bigger party with more hookers and in the end, Joel disappoints his mother and makes his father very happy. The soundtrack for this film was scored by Tangerine Dream, actually, more than half the film’s music comes from TD. We’re all familiar with Joel’s underwear dance to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock ‘N Roll” as well as “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen and “Every Breath You Take” from The Police.  “Risky Business” set the bar for 80s films and their soundtracks. (via)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little cruise down memory lane and will look up some or all of these movies and listen to the music this Summer. The hair in the 1980s may be Risky Business but the music was AWESOME!!!! Enjoy!!!

Words are my own.

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