When I decided to count down the top 10 movie songs of all time I was a little overwhelmed by just how many good choices there were. Throughout the history of (non-silent) Hollywood movies, the greatest of these films, and even many of the not-so-great, have had memorable songs attached to them. The top 10 movie songs of all time all share the characteristic of eliciting strong emotion, and powerful memories from those who hear them. The movie and the song share a symbiotic relationship. The movie is recalled to mind every time the song plays on the radio, and the artist who performs the song gets incredible exposure by lending his work to a major Hollywood title, sometimes even rejuvenating a song that has already been around for years, and has faded from most people’s memories. Here are some of the movie songs that enjoy that symbiotic relationship; my picks for the top 10 movie songs of all time:
10- Afternoon Delight – Anchorman
This number might be a surprise for people reading this list, but in my opinion it manages to squeak onto the list of the top 10 movie songs of all time. Ron Burgundy and his gang of fellow anchormen break into a surprisingly good a-capella version of the song. One of the most hilarious moments in this comedy.
9 – When you Wish Upon a Star – Pinocchio
This classic song from Disney’s 1940 animated tale of a wooden boy who realizes his dream to become real some day is in my opinion the best song ever performed in an animated movie, and it was performed by a cricket, no less! Apparently the folks at the academy agree with my assessment. The song won an Oscar that year.
8 – Twist and Shout – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
This entry at the number 8 spot on the list of the top 10 movie songs of all time had some true star power behind it. Though they weren’t the original performers of this classic song, The Beatles perform their version in this classic 80s comedy about a slacker who goes to absurd lengths to ditch school for the day. The song hits all the right notes, and teenage girls everywhere swooned as they watched Bueller lip-synch along.
7 – Misirlou – Pulp Fiction
This song is about 80 years old and originally of Greek origin, but first gained popularity in North American when it was featured on the Beach Boys’ album, Surfin’ USA back in 1963. It had slowly spiraled into obscurity until this surprising hit from director, Quentin Tarantino gave it fresh life. Few songs are as strongly associated with a movie like Misirlou is with Pulp Fiction.
6 – Bohemian Rhapsody – Wayne’s World
Yet another case of a movie re-popularizing a song. This entry at number 6 of the top 10 movie songs of all time was probably never intended as a headbanger anthem, but that is exactly what it became after Wayne and Garth got ahold of it, blaring it at full blast in their Pacer (or was it a Gremlin?). Night clubs everywhere were quick to jump on the Bohemian bandwagon, and much moshing ensued.
5 – Shout – Animal House
Cult movies always seem to have their fair share of memorable songs attached to them, and this college cult classic is no exception. Shout has become an anthem for toga partiers everywhere, and is the song and the accompanying scene are probably the strongest memories people have of this 30+ year old movie. Has it really been that long?
4 – Eye of the Tiger – Rocky III
Survivor didn’t have a lot of hits, but this boxing movie classic is well deserving of a spot on the list of the top 10 movie songs of all time. Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky takes the song as his anthem as he tries to fight his way back to the top after being devastated by the loss of his beloved trainer, Mickey as well as by the thundering fists of one Clubber Lang.
3 – Mrs. Robinson – The Graduate
Simon and Garfunkel provide the clever song for this sizzling steamy romantic dramedy. Dustin Hoffman is cast in the lead role, and gets caught in a love triangle with the wife of his father’s law partner and her daughter. A great film, with a great soundtrack that included another Simon and Garfunkel hit, the Sound of Silence, along with Mrs. Robinson.
2 – Stayin’ Alive – Saturday Night Fever
That’s right. The number two entry on this list of the top 10 movie songs of all time is a disco song. This classic song from the legendary kings of disco, the BeeGees, is the most recognizable disco song of all time, and the scene with John Travolta, strutting along, swinging the paint can with this song playing in the background is one of the most memorable in movie history.
1 – Singin’ in the Rain – Singin’ in the Rain
We go way back to find the number 1 movie song of all time. Singin’ in the Rain is widely considered one of the greatest musicals of all time, and Gene Kelly delivered the title song with unparalleled style and panache. Few scenes throughout the history of Hollywood movies are as enduring as Gene Kelly’s song and dance to this great classic song.