Top 5 Movie Guide: Original Songs

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we decided to task ourselves with one of the more difficult premises we've ever taken on. As probably all of you know, "Skyfall" released in American cinemas this weekend, and one feature of the film that got us most excited for its release was Adele's theme, Skyfall. The song is everything you want from a James Bond theme, and it already seems like one of the better songs ever featured in the storied franchise's 50-year history. It's yet to be seen how well the song with work with the film itself, but as an original song for a film, this already seems like a strong one. And that got us thinking, what are some of the other great original songs ever composed purely for a film?

We made a few restrictions to help narrow the field, but not nearly as many as we could have. First off, it should be mentioned that even though Skyfall has already been released, as it's the inspiration for this list, it was excluded, regardless of if it would have made any of our lists or not. That should probably go without saying, but now it's not a question. As for real restrictions, our biggest was omitting animated films from contention. We're all familiar with the dozens of nostalgic Disney selections from years past, and trying to figure out the separation between those types of films/songs and live-action films/songs was a bit too taxing. Plus, by omitting them we're able to save another category for another day! So all of the songs below will be from live-action films. Also, it seems to go without saying, but pure film scores were nixed as well. There are types of songs that are a break-off from the composition, but in those scenarios, the song just had to have original lyrics. Other than that though, we left it all open. No date or genre restrictions, simply our five favorite original songs from live-action films ever.

The titles that everyone came up with were quite fascinating, and it was definitely interesting to see the direction some writers went knowing that they only had five selections available - it's lists like these that really help show off individual personalities.

So after the break, check out all of the songs that each of us picked. As a bonus, you can click on each of our selections for a link to the song itself. If there are any titles you're unfamiliar with or haven't heard for a while, this will help you get acquainted/reacquainted!

Alex Schopp -
As just about every one of us will attest to, this was one of the more difficult lists to compose. There are so many great options out there, and limiting it to five selections felt next to impossible. But, that's the nature of these lists, and these are the picks that came out on top for me.

     1. "Mrs. Robinson" - The Graduate (1967)
I had about seven titles I really wanted to put on my list. Of those seven, these five are the ones I have on playlists and still enjoy listening to. Of these five, this is the one that makes it into my rotation the most frequently. Even though it's a different version in the film, this song is my favorite to regularly listen to without the film.
     2. "That Thing You Do!" - That Thing You Do! (1996)
This song is so good, but also shows me just how easy it is to manufacture catchy hits. I love this film though, and even though the song is played a thousand times in the film, and I've listened to it a thousand more times since, I still want to jam along every time I hear it.
     3. "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" - Harold and Maude (1971)
I was introduced to the film by an ex-girlfriend years ago, and I was impressed with how much I enjoyed it. This song stood out to me the most though, and I still love listening to it today. How can you not love this song?
     4. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
If this song doesn't get you jacked up, I don't know what will. If you want to work out, go for a run, or just have any type of deadline on a task, flip on this track and you'll get it done. Guaranteed.
     5. "The Power of Love" - Back to the Future (1985)
Gotta love some Huey Lewis and the News. "Back to the Future" is a great film, and this song works great even without it.

Ben Foutch -
This was a difficult list to rank for multiple reasons. It is was it is.

     1. "Mrs. Robinson" - The Graduate (1967)

     2. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)

     3. "Flash" - Flash Gordon (1980)

     4. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" - The Breakfast Club (1985)

    5. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)

Derek Clem -

     1. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
Science proves this is the greatest song ever made for a movie.
     2. "Night Fever" - Saturday Night Fever (1977)
"Stayin' Alive" is good, but this song is great!!! It's responsible for about 50% of my love for the movie.
     3. "Into the West" - The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King (2003)
Such a beautiful song. I enjoy pairing it with "May It Be" from LOTR: FOTR.
     4. "That Thing You Do!" - That Thing You Do! (1996)
Possibly one of the most catchy songs ever put in a movie. I especially like this one because it doesn't score the movie, It's a part of the story.
     5. "9 to 5" - 9 to 5 (1980)
This song gets me hyped and ready for the day.

Nathan Hinds -
Let me just start by saying this was the hardest list I've had to do, and I think only picking five songs doesn't do this category justice. I'm confident in my top three choices, but I could have rotated 30-40 various songs in for the last two spots. It took everything in me to not pull an 80's Action Films stunt and start throwing around mad honorable mentions.

     1. "Hearts on Fire" - Rocky IV (1985)
For me this is the greatest pump-up song of all time, and when I would go running this was the only song I would listen to. I would just listen to it on repeat over and over again. I think I can lose a couple pounds just listening to this song.
     2. "My Heart Will Go On" - Titanic (1997)
I guess now is as good of time as any to make my undying love for this song public for the whole world to see - well, at least anyone who reads this post. I loved this song from the very first time I heard it in theaters when I was 9-years-old. I know some of the other guys have brought up in the past what the first soundtrack they owned was; this was mine.
     3. "Magic Works" - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Most people probably won't even know what this song is because you probably won't even notice it in the movie. To hear the whole song you have to sit through the first ten or so minutes of the end credits. Why it's so high up for me is because, when the film came out - and I still worked at the movie theater - me and fellow writer Andy would jam out to this song every time we cleaned its theater. We would stretch what should've been a three-minute cleaning job into 15 minutes just to hear this song.
     4. "Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)" - Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)
No real special attachment to this song other than it fucking rocks. It's one of the best sing-along songs that also tends to freak people out who are watching you. I've often thought it would be fun to see someone try and play this song at a high school talent show and see how far they could make it into the song before the power to their instruments got pulled.
     5. "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" - This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
This has become one of my favorite comedies and I love all of the songs in the film. But since I could only choose one, I went with this.

Andy Schopp -
Even though we've already agreed to exclude animated films from this particular list, I've also omitted Musicals to help me narrow the field. So don't expect to see "Grease Lightning" show up below! Also, before I start, I just want to point out that, even though we couldn't use it this week, I can't get over "Skyfall". It's so good; so nostalgic.

     1. "Danger Zone" - Top Gun (1986)
This song has worked its way into literally being a part of my soul. No "Danger Zone", no Andy.
     2. "Ninja Rap" - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
This is such a cheesy, ridiculous song. So hilariously silly. Bravo, Vanilla Ice.
     3. "Mrs. Robinson" - The Graduate (1969)
Whenever I hear this song I think of The Graduate, and that is a good thing.
     4. "Footloose" - Footloose (1984)
This song is SO good for dancing and just generally listening to. It's just slightly more danceable (it's a word, don't worry about it) and listenable than, say, "Flashdance".
     5. "The Pick of Destiny" - Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)
There were so many other songs that I wanted to slot in here, but I have to give some love to "The D" when I can! I wish this list could be 100 songs long, then we'd really be getting somewhere!

So there we have it, folks. Quite the variety this week, and plenty of great songs to chose from. It's a shame these lists had to be narrowed to five selections, but even still, this was one of the more fascinating lists we've ever compiled. As expected, there wasn't a lot of crossover, either. With so many great titles to choose from it's no surprise at the lack of repetition. Still though, a few stood above the rest.

Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson from "The Graduate" was the only song to appear on three different lists, and it also took the top spot on two of them. This is definitely one of the more popularly-known songs from a film, and dating back more than four decades, it's still a popular title today. That Thing You Do! and Ghostbusters, both in film and song title, were the only other selections to appear on multiple lists, each hitting on two. Nothing more to say about these two titles other than they're great, catchy tunes that really defined the films they were made for. Without them, would their respective films have been quite as powerful? Who knows.

Unofficially, it maybe also is worth note that two different songs from the Rocky franchise, Eye of the Tiger and Hearts on Fire, appeared, and two titles from "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny" also appeared in Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown) and The Pick of Destiny. None of these four songs got repeat selections, but it's interesting that different songs from said franchises made it into the top five of two different writers' lists.

So as always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best original songs ever featured in films, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!