The sci-fi and fantasy movies of the 1980s were filled with a ton of memorable, iconic, and obviously ridiculous music. Here are over 30 of the best (and most painful) movie bits of the decade for your listening pleasure.
REMARK: I tried to focus on singles from movies or songs that scored memorable scenes. There are a ton of great 1980s film scores, so I’ve focused on just a few. If I had to be completely selfish, this list would be all of the John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream movie soundtracks plus Basil Poledouris’ score for Conan the Barbarian.
Queen – “Flash Gordon” (1980)
Let’s start with an old favorite. If you don’t like this song, you’re Ruthless Ming.
Goblin – The Contamination Soundtrack (1980)
Contamination (also known as Alien Contamination) was by no means the most memorable film, but Italian progressive rockers Goblin (dawn of the dead) did a great job with this soundtrack.
Don Felder – “Heavy Metal” (1981)
If you were stoned in 1981, chances are you listened to the soundtrack of heavy metalwhich also contained almost no heavy metals.
George Harrison – Dreaming Away bandits of time (nineteen eighty one)
The perfect background music to travel back in time with a bunch of rowdy dwarfs.
Vangelis – All fucking blade runner soundtrack (1982)
I know this extends my “no instruments” rule, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take my hat off to the glow-in-the-dark C-rays near the Tannhäuser gate.
Wendy Carlos – All Fucking tron soundtrack (1982)
The soundtracks of electronic music pioneer Wendy Carlos the brilliant and Clockwork Orange are iconic, so it’s easy to forget that she also composed the soundtrack for the original grid.
David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder – “Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)” from cat people (1982)
If you ever find yourself turning into a leopard, this is your theme song.
Tahnee Cain & Tryanglz – “Burnin’ to the Third Degree” (1983)
I love how that tinkling dance floor tune played in the disco on the wrong side of the tracks at terminator.
the rock and rule soundtrack (1983)
Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and earth, wind and fire in a bizarre Nelvana movie about mouse people or something. Like Don Bluth heavy metal.
Bauhaus — The Deaths of Bela Lugosi Hunger (1983)
This gothic staple opened the cult favorite vampire movie starring David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and nudity.
Max Rebo Group – “Lapti Nek” (1983)
This was replaced by this horrible “Jedi Rocks” in 1997 Return of the Jedi Special edition. Forget Greedo who fired first, “Lapti Nek” was the biggest victim of those dismal recuts. Fact: The Max Rebo band play a style of music known as “Jizz” and are classified as “Jizz-Wailers” (I did not invent).
Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder – “Together in Electric Dreams” (1984)
This song is from Electric dreamsa film that taught us the important lesson that if you pour champagne on your computer, it will come to life.
Eurythmics – “Sexcrime (1984)” (1984)
Apparently, the Eurythmics soundtrack for 1984 was imposed on the film against the will of the director. Come on everyone, there’s a rager in room 101!
Ray Parker Jr. – “Ghostbusters” (1984)
Huey Lewis at a bone to pick up with this song.
Buckaroo Banzai – “Since I Haven’t Got You” (1984)
Peter Weller covering the Skyliners. Smooth.
Limahl – “The Neverending Story” (1984)
It took 10 hours to write this article because I watched this video for 9 of them.
Iggy Pop – “Repo Man” (1984)
Stooges frontman Iggy Pop delivers the theme for this cult classic about a punk Emilio Estevez mingling with alien entanglements.
Mark Safan – “Winning in the End” from Teen Wolf (1985)
See it gets me down about MTV upcoming hot topic Teen Wolf redo.
Tina Turner – “We Don’t Need Another Hero” Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
When the post-apocalypse comes, this song will play at every ball.
Bryan Ferry – “Is Your Love Strong Enough” from Legend (1985)
Every day, once a day, Tom Cruise looks in the mirror while blasting this song to recharge his batteries.
Oingo Boingo – “Strange Science” (1985)
An anthem for a time when computers could do anything screenwriters wanted.
Stan Bush – “The Touch” from transformers: the movie (1986)
This is the ultimate workout edit song. To avoid the harmful rap-rock remake.
David Bowie – Magic Dance (1986)
I’m 99% sure that David Bowie thought Labyrinth was a documentary he had been hired to narrate. Jareth’s role is just the Thin White Duke “doing his thing”.
John Carpenter and Alan Howarth – “Porkchop Express” from Big problem in little China (1986)
This song sounds like the best bar band in the world. I say that as high praise.
Huey Lewis and the News – “Back in Time” (1986)
I prefer “The Power of Love”but this song earns points for being a bit more iconic.
AC/DC – “Who Did Who” (1986)
Stephen King has only directed one film, Maximum overdrive, which was an adaptation of his short story “Trucks”. King enlisted his favorite band AC/DC to produce an entire album based on his film about sentient machines. Unfortunately, King was coked out of his skull for most of the production, and the film was a critical and commercial flop.
Cherry Bomb – “Howard the Duck” (1986)
After I laughed at this song in a previous post, I received an email from (someone claiming to be) songwriter Thomas Dolby. He lamented that I no longer make fun of this song.
El DeBarge – “Who’s Johnny” (1986)
In this hit single from short circuiteveryone is confused about the identity of an adorable little robot.
“Feed me” from Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Even if you hate musicals, it’s hard not to love Rick Moranis singing with a giant carnivorous plant.
Fastway – “Trick or Treat” (1987)
I always liked how Ozzy Osbourne played a televangelist in this gem of horror.
Starship – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from Model (1987)
Starship gives me hope that one day I too will be nominated for an Academy Award for no particular reason.
Gerard McMann – “Cry Little Sister” from the lost boys (1987)
This song is reminiscent of the good old days. You know, when Jack Bauer was a vampire.
This McDonalds scene from Mac and me (1988)
If you ever want to have a spontaneous dance with aliens while shamelessly shilling Shamrock Shakes, this is your jam.
Harry Belafonte – “Jump Online” from beetle juice (1988)
Congratulations on your test, Winona Ryder. Here is a paranormal activity as a reward.
Run DMC – “Ghostbusters” (1989)
It’s not as good as “Christmas at Hollis”, but at least Run DMC hasn’t been accused of scamming anyone.
Prince – “Batdance” (1989)
I won’t share with you my unnecessarily detailed theory that purple rain is sci-fi, so here’s the next best thing.
Bill & Ted’s School Report (1989)
“God gave you rock and roll” That was 1991, so here are some Wyld Stallyns lyrics from the final days of the 80s.
Queen – “Princes of the Universe” from mountaineer (1989)
This article starts with Queen and ends with Queen. As every article should.