Top 8 Movie Soundtracks from the 1980s

Movies are incredible. On a good day, on a bad day, you can sink into your seat and lose yourself in the silver screen. But have you ever noticed how important the scores and soundtracks of these films are? Songs offer that immediate quality, their sounds get your body excited, frightened, or even offer relief.

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But which are the best movie soundtracks? The ones so visceral that they can bring you into the film, itself, even with your eyes closed? Below, we’ve culled a list of the best eight movie soundtracks from the 1980s.

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1. Batman (1989)

With a score by Danny Elfman and a soundtrack from none other than Prince, himself, this Tim Burton-directed masterpiece was bound to captivate no matter what the Caped Crusader had to offer. The main theme, written by Elfman, is a classic and was used later in the 1990s for the beloved cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series.

2. Dirty Dancing (1987)

A heart-pumping movie about freedom, love, romance, self-expression, and dancing, this movie had better have a standout soundtrack. And thankfully, it did. The soundtrack boasted timeless songs like “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, “Do You Love Me” by The Contours, and “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen. All of that led the soundtrack to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for four months, selling upwards of 15 million units to date.

3. Top Gun (1986)

This soundtrack album also hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and it’s been certified platinum nine times. Not only did the soundtrack use beloved songs, but there were also original songs written for the movie, including the Oscar-winning “Take My Breath Away” and Kenny Loggins-recorded “Danger Zone.”

4. Do the Right Thing (1989)

This immaculate film by Spike Lee introduced many to the power of Public Enemy. Who can forget the opening dance scene with Rosie Perez shadow-boxing to the deep lyrics of Chuck D? Not only that but the movie’s score was composed in part by jazz artist Bill Lee, Spike’s father. All in all, the soundtrack could power a small town or city borough.

5. Back to the Future (1985)

This mid-80s offering includes songs like “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, which was written for the movie and became a No. 1 hit; the iconic rock song “Johnny B. Goode,” by Chuck Berry, which also plays a major role in the movie; and cuts from Eric Clapton, Lindsey Buckingham and more.

6. Stand by Me (1986)

Because this movie took place in the late 1950s, the movie included a number of early rock ‘n’ roll hits, which makes the film and its soundtrack that much more appealing. Of course, the movie’s soundtrack included the title song, “Stand By Me,” by Ben E. King. But it also included “Everyday” by Buddy Holly, “Yakety Yak” by the Coasters, and “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis.

7. Purple Rain (1984)

The movie and album that made Prince into Prince. Not only did the Purple One prove he could act and carry a movie, but the songs on this album make it a veritable greatest hits album for the Minnesota-born artist. Two of the soundtrack’s songs hit No. 1 (“When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy”) and the title track hit No. 2. The album has sold more than 25 million copies globally to date.

8. Footloose (1984)

Another dancing-centric movie from the 1980s with a classic soundtrack, this offering sold more than nine million units in the United States and included the Oscar-nominated title song written and recorded by Loggins for the movie (which hit No. 1), as well as “Somebody’s Eyes” by Karla Bonoff and “Dancing In The Sheets” by Shalamar. The soundtrack song “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams also hit No. 1 and earned an Oscar nom.

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