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Another Top 10 Movie Theme Songs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Elliot Baker These are the songs you'll be humming your whole way home with from the theater. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for another top 10 movie theme songs. Similar to our last list on the topic, we're focusing on pop songs that are associated with or feature prominently in iconic movies. Special thanks to our user Georgina Bransfield for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest.
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Script written by Elliot Baker

Another Top 10 Movie Theme Songs


These are the songs you'll be humming your whole way home with from the theater. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for another Top 10 Movie Theme Songs.

Similar to our last list on the topic, we’re focusing on pop songs that are associated with or feature prominently in iconic movies. Songs can be written expressly for the film, but they can’t be instrumentals as those are worthy of a list all their own. If you didn’t see a theme you think should be on this list, be sure to check out our first list of the Top 10 Movie Theme Songs.

#10: “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes
“Shaft” (1971)

Who’s the cat with the classic ‘70s theme that sounds so smooth? Damn right. In a time when funk, groove and soul ruled the world, there was no better time to produce a cool wave of bass lines for an iconic character like John Shaft. Written and sung by Isaac Hayes, “Shaft”’s soulful beat and lyrics made their way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, and introduced listeners to the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks. Not only that, Hayes’ composition also won him the Academy Award for Best Original Song, becoming the first African American to do so. We can certainly dig that.

#9: “Princes of the Universe” by Queen
“Highlander” (1986)

When setting out on an immortal quest, it never hurts to have Freddie Mercury on your side. The tale of the immortals begins with the unmistakable harmonies, bellowing guitars and synthesizer rhythms of Queen, led by one of the most fantastic voices to ever grace the music scene. With timeless lyrics of glory and victory, one only has to listen to the opening verse to feel its glorious impact. Queen was no stranger to the movie soundtrack, having penned the majority of the “Highlander” soundtrack – including “Who Wants to Live Forever” – and writing the entire soundtrack to “Flash Gordon” years earlier. Queen was born to write movie themes.

#8: “America, F**k Yeah” by Trey Parker
“Team America: World Police” (2004)

Speaks for itself, doesn’t it? With the eyes of the world set squarely on the United States and their War on Terror, Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to satirize excessive patriotism, war and questionable foreign policies with this bombastic, puppet-filled comedy. But of course their jingoistic team would need a theme song, and what could be more fitting than a song whose lyrics are a simplistic embellishment of America’s nationalism, hate-on for terrorism, and the blind glory of national pride? There are also F-bombs; lots and lots of F-bombs. Hilariously featured across the film even in the tough times, this theme song hits hard against any would-be terrorists thinking about messing with ‘Murica.

#7: “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel
“Frozen” (2013)

You probably never heard of this song… Sarcasm aside, the melody as performed by Adele Dazeem is a beautiful harmonic ballad. Beginning with a somber tone, the song grows in tempo alongside Elsa’s increasing hope for the future, and ultimately reaches its powerful climax as the icy queen stands tall above the world she once she feared. To be honest, we’re not sure if she’s happy that she conquered her fears, or that she made the most played movie theme song for years to come. Regardless, this modern Disney classic landed in the Billboard Hot 100 top 5, nabbed an Oscar for Best Original Song and a Grammy as well, ensuring its spot in music history.


#6: “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio feat. L.V.
“Dangerous Minds” (1995)

Sampling Stevie Wonder’s synth-heavy “Pastime Paradise,” this new theme tells the story of regret for the gangster life. Complementing the film’s core story of a teacher working with disgruntled and poverty stricken students, “Gangsta’s Paradise” uses biblical themes mixed with a remorseful narrative that connects perfectly to the movie. Despite its heavy themes, this is one of the few Coolio raps to be completely absent of profanity, a request that came from Stevie Wonder himself. Winning Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance, this theme song’s popularity has since far surpassed that of its accompanying film.

#5: “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins
“Top Gun” (1986)

This is truly a song that screams “1980s” and acts as the anthem for bromances across the world. Mixing a synthesized bassline with the vocals of the King of the Movie Soundtrack himself never sounded so good, especially considering the background to the song: originally, producers wanted Toto, Bryan Adams or even REO Speedwagon to perform the song – with all of them turning down the opportunity for different reasons. Eventually, Mr. Loggins was tapped to perform the hit song, likely thanks to his impressive job with “Footloose” a few years prior. But it’s the epic nature of “Danger Zone” that has bypassed ‘80s cheese and gone straight back into awesome territory.

#4: “Men in Black” by Will Smith
“Men in Black” (1997)

Walking in shadow and moving in silence is the Fresh Prince on his way to becoming the King of the World. Sampling “Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushen, this hip-hop track spins some secretive swaps on the original lyrics, for example changing the line ‘I want you to remember’ to ‘they won’t let you remember,’ in reference to the movie. Ironically the most memorable of all the “Men in Black” themes, the catchy beat and slick lyrics from Big Willie prove impossible to get out of your head even decades after the film’s release. Why it wasn’t used in the sequels, we’ll never know.


#3: “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings
“Live and Let Die” (1973)

The words and ideas of Ian Fleming managed to reunite Paul McCartney with The Beatles’ producer George Martin to create one of the best-remembered themes from the long-running James Bond series. Written by Sir Paul after reading the novel on which the film was based, the sultry piano music strikes up without warning and sets the stage for the musical pressure to come in the form of a grand orchestra. The rocker’s triumph was as inevitable as another Bond movie, and it became not only one of Wings’ most successful singles but also the first Bond theme to be Oscar nominated for Best Original Song.

#2: “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News
“Back to the Future” (1985)

Nothing jumpstarts a time travel plot quite like being late for school, but it’s the classic pop rocker that gets Marty McFly really going. Huey Lewis’ first number one single, the song pops up throughout this sci-fi trilogy, meshing brilliantly with the movies’ themes and with Marty’s idealistic young character. As it’s practically his own person theme, Marty and his band ‘The Pinheads’ attempt to perform the song at a battle of the bands audition; however, a familiar-looking judge shuts him down pretty quick. And that’s too bad, because “The Power of Love” is an undisputed masterpiece, and we personally don’t mind if it’s too darn loud.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Circle of Life” by Elton John
“The Lion Kong” (1994)
- “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
“Armageddon” (1998)
- “The Hanging Tree” by James Newton Howard feat. Jennifer Lawrence
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” (2014)
- “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” by LeAnn Rimes
“Coyote Ugly” (2000)
- “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen
“Philadelphia” (1993)

#1: “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.
“Ghostbusters” (1984)

Say it with us now: “Ghostbusters!” When approached by producers to create a theme for this supernatural comedy, Ray Parker, Jr. was given very little time to write a dance-pop masterpiece – especially considering how hard it is to rhyme with “Ghostbusters.” According to Parker, he saw a cheap ad late at night that was incredibly similar to the one featured in the movie and he was inspired to set what basically became a commercial jingle to a popping beat. However, Huey Lewis sued Parker due to the similarities between the “Ghostbusters” theme and his own song “I Want a New Drug.” Regardless of the resemblance, Parker, Jr. seems to have come out on top thanks to his super-catchy theme song.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite movie theme song? For more bopping top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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