The 80s were undoubtedly the decade of some of the most iconic cultural moments in history, and one of the biggest markers of the era was its music. Movie soundtracks of the time not only complemented great films but also added value to the songs and introduced new genres to the masses. Even after decades, many 80s soundtracks remain as cultural touchstones revered by music aficionados and moviegoers alike. In no particular order, here are some of the best 80s movie soundtracks you can still jam out to today:
1. Purple Rain (1984)
Prince’s classic 80s album, Purple Rain, not only acted as a film soundtrack but also as an introduction of the iconic singer-songwriter to the mainstream. Driven by Prince’s signature electro-funk and soulful ballads, the album inspired the entire generation and still remains one of the most beloved releases of the era. The album boasts hit tracks like “Let’s Go Crazy,” “The Beautiful Ones,” and, of course, “Purple Rain.”
2. Top Gun (1986)
The Top Gun soundtrack is one of the most recognizable movie soundtracks of all time. Driven by Kenny Loggins’ upbeat “Danger Zone,” the 80s classic is filled with soaring rock anthems and power ballads. The album’s most memorable track, “Take My Breath Away,” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became the definitive 80s slow jam. Other great songs from the album include “Top Gun Anthem,” “Playing with the Boys,” and “Mighty Wings.”
3. Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dirty Dancing is arguably the most quintessential 80s movie of all time, and its soundtrack is just as iconic. Topped by the classic “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the album boasts some of the most famous 80s ballads like “She’s Like the Wind” and “Hungry Eyes.” Also notable is the energetic “Do You Love Me,” which perfectly captures the spirit of the film’s dance sequences. The soundtrack helped cement the film’s status as a cultural phenomenon, and its tracks remain the cannon of 80s soundtracks.
4. Footloose (1984)
Footloose is a quintessential teen drama of the 80s, and its soundtrack is one of the most beloved contributions to the era’s music catalog. From the energizing title track “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins to the soulful Kimberly Didick’s “Let’s Hear It For The Boy,” the album is comprised of upbeat tracks that are perfect for dancing and singing along. However, the album’s defining moment is “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler, which is, without a doubt, the ultimate 80s power anthem.
5. The Breakfast Club (1985)
This cult classic teen flick is another iconic part of the 80s movie scene. The soundtrack is as unorthodox as the film itself, featuring a garage rock playlist of the era’s underground hits. The album is anchored by the immensely popular “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds, which is still a high school graduation and prom staple. Other notable tracks include “We Are Not Alone” by Karla DeVito and the legendary “If You Leave” by OMD.
6. Flashdance (1983)
Flashdance is another quintessential 80s movie with one of the era’s most iconic soundtracks. The album boasts tracks from legendary artists such as Donna Summer and Michael Sembello, but it was Irene Cara’s “Flashdance… What a Feeling” that won the Oscar for Best Original Song. The song still carries an infectious, energetic beat that can get anyone excited to dance.
7. Pretty in Pink (1986)
The soundtrack for Pretty in Pink is a must-listen for anyone looking for an authentic 80s experience. The album is a blend of punk, new wave, and rock music, with tracks from Echo & the Bunnymen, The Smiths, and New Order. The defining moment of the soundtrack comes from the Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink,” which became an anthem for high school outcasts. Other notable tracks include “If You Leave” by OMD and “Shellshock” by New Order.
8. Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters might be a comedy, but its soundtrack is serious 80s music business. The album boasts tracks from legendary artists such as Elton John, Thompson Twins, and Air Supply, but Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” is the clear standout. The song remains as popular today as it was back in the 80s, having cemented its spot in pop culture history.
9. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
The soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop is a compelling mix of funk, R&B, and synth-pop. Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” is the driving force behind the album and still remains the most recognizable track from the soundtrack. The album also features popular hits from The Pointer Sisters and Glenn Frey, making it one of the quintessential 80s soundtracks.
There you have it, the best 80s movie soundtracks that can still get you grooving today. The music from these albums, even after decades, remains relevant as ever and a testament to the decade’s musical excellence. So plug in, hit play, and enjoy the music!