34 Best Original Songs Created for Films
34 Best Original Songs Created for Films.
Music and sound design can really make or break a film. Scores are of course the main source with composers such as Williams, Zimmer and Elfman being huge names in the industry with some amazing contributions to films under their collective belts. There are also directors like Tarantino, Gunn and The Coen Brothers who can compile an amazing soundtrack of perfectly selected music. Then there’s the collaboration, when a director, or producer, and artist come together to create a song specifically for their film, and that’s what we’re celebrating in this post.
Songs created for films seemed to be a huge thing for a little while (I’m looking at you 80’s) and added another layer of fun and meaning to these features. Pop music and films will forever go hand in hand with each other and the songs can become just as famous as the film, if not even more so in some cases.
The songs included are definitely from a personal opinion standpoint, with some cultural impact taken into account (so you may not see Bryan Adams on here, just warning you). These are the songs created specifically for films, or potentially reworked for the film, that I adored. This is songs only (no scores as that deserves its own list) and will not include Disney or Pixar film songs, James Bond songs or songs from Musicals (again, they all deserve their own lists).
Now that you know the rules, lets dive in.
34. ‘Are You Ready for Freddy?’ – A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Performed by The Fat Boys
So I may have started off with a very personal preference. The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise has had a surprising amount of original songs created for it, but this slapstick rap anthem is just plain fun. Who doesn’t want to hear the nightmare stalker Freddy Krueger rap?
33. ‘Face to Face’ – Batman Returns (1992)
Performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees
This love theme for Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne reflects the conflicted and heated relationship between the two unknowing enemies. Tim Burton requested that Siouxsie and the Banshees create this love anthem to fit the darker tone of Batman Returns. Siouxsie is a definite Catwoman contender in this music video.
32. ‘See You Again’ – Furious 7 (2015)
Performed by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
Created in dedication to Paul Walker who passed in a car accident in 2013, this song is a strong emotional tribute to one of the stars of the franchise in his final on screen appearance. This song became on of the most viewed videos on YouTube, was nominated for three Grammys and a Best Original Song Oscar.
31. ‘Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)’ – The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Performed by Doris Day
Hitchcock is well known for the amazing scores in his films and his longstanding collaboration with composer Bernard Herrmann so he’s not always associated with songs in films. However, in The Man Who Knew Too Much a key part of the plot is Doris Day’s lullaby. Que Sera, Sera went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
30. ‘Ashes’ – Deadpool 2 (2018)
Performed by Celine Dion
Not the Celine song you were expecting? Of course, this isn’t her most famous original song for a film, but it is her most fun one. This song manages to be satirical and yet perfect for this film in tone. Plus the video is just damn wacky with James Bond tropes and high heel clad Deadpool’s everywhere. (I want to include the Deadpool Rap by TeamHeadKick but that existed before the film creation, but it’s worth checking out also!)
29. ‘Happy’ – Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Performed by Pharrell Williams
It’s almost impossible not to smile at this up-tempo soul song about being Happy. With a positive message, catchy beat and a super cheery music video this was a perfect song for the little Minions of Despicable Me 2 and a Summer anthem all rolled into one. This was another contender for Best Original Song that was beat out by the power of Frozen.
28. ‘Alfie?’ – Alfie (1966)
Performed by Cilla Black
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to promote the film Alfie, this song is more than just a catchy marketing tool, it also covers the theme of the entire film in one musical number. Tackled by the Liverpudlian Cilla Black this is the ultimate theme track for a gritty yet funny British film.
27. ‘Everything is Awesome’ – The Lego Movie (2014)
Performed by Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island
Once again we enter the realms of super catchy, high-energy songs for animated films. Everything is Awesome is the mantra of the Lego world in the film and holds some strangely sinister undertones with the narrative. Yet, it’s cheery disposition makes it a feel good anthem worthy of its Academy and Grammy award nominations.
26. ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ – Dangerous Minds (1995)
Performed by Coolio
If this song doesn’t make you want to sit backwards on your chair, you’re listening to it wrong. Created by Coolio, and sampling Stevie Wonder, this song is definitely one of the reasons we can all recite Psalm 23:4 (As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death). Gangsta’s Paradise is pure 90’s in its tone and works well with the themes of the film, even if those themes are a little dated by now.
25. ‘Moon River’ – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Performed by Audrey Hepburn
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic films, performances, costumes and songs all rolled into one. Her rendition of Moon River in the film is tender, beautiful and captures her characters innocence easily. This one definitely deserved its Academy Award win and to be forever remembered in pop culture.
24. ‘Lose Yourself ‘– 8 Mile (2002)
Performed by Eminem
This was the anthem of 2002 and everyone under the age of 30 definitely knew all the lyrics to this one. Lose Yourself is a lyrical biography partly of Eminem and partly of B-Rabbit, his character, that perfectly fits with this dramatic semi autobiographical film. This song was so good it was the first hip hop song to receive an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
23. ‘Footloose’ – Footloose (1984)
Performed by Kenny Loggins
Iconic dance moves require an iconic song; enter Loggins with the titular song Footloose. This 80’s number sums up the era perfectly with a foot stomping beat and some fun, if slightly nonsensical lyrics, that are hard not to move and sing along to. The big ending dance scene is so satisfying to watch and the song highlights the fun of letting loose.
22. ‘Burn’ – Natural Born Killers (1994)
Performed by Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor is a well-known name in the film industry after scoring numerous films and tv shows including Gone Girl, Bird Box and Watchmen the TV series. Prior to this Reznor and the rest of Nine Inch Nails created the song Burn for the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Just like the film; this song is a comment on society and the media’s use of violence, which is clear through the montage imagery and juxtaposing projections throughout the video. It’s angry, poignant and perfect for this film.
21. ‘Mrs Robinson’ – The Graduate (1967)
Perofrmed by Simon and Garfunkel
I really love The Sound of Silence on this soundtrack, but that was a pre-existing track, so doesn’t follow the rules. However, it did lead to the director commissioning the pair to create a new song specifically for the seductress. It may have taken some heavy discussions and arm twisting but it was all worth it as this is one of the most famous film songs and has been covered numerous times and included in many a soundtrack since it’s original release.
20. ‘All the Stars’ – Black Panther (2018)
Performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA
Black Panther was such a culturally significant film on its release that of course it required an equally significant soundtrack. Coogler handpicked Kendrick Lamar to produce the full soundtrack album to make sure it had the right message that coincided with the film itself. All the Stars is a perfect end credits song for Black Panther.
19. ‘9 to 5’ – 9 to 5 (1980)
Performed by Dolly Parton
I am a sucker for Dolly and this country anthem is one of her most brilliant songs. It is an infectious, hip bopping song about rebellion with a catchy as hell chorus. The lyrics are cheery and yet scathing to the society these women live in working perfectly with the feminist message of the film. It may not have won its Academy Award for Best Original Song but it definitely won everyone’s hearts.
18. ‘Iris’ – City of Angels (1998)
Performed by Goo Goo Dolls
Of course a film like City of Angels needed a love ballad that encompassed the story of an angel falling in love with a human and being willing to give up everything to be with them. The Goo Goo Dolls definitely stepped up to the plate with Iris, a song that become their own signature song soon after release. Iris is now many a couples song and definitely oozes romanticism.
17. ‘Heathens’ – Suicide Squad (2016)
Performed by Twenty One Pilots
Okay, I know that Suicide Squad is not a well-received film but it has to be given credit for its killer soundtrack. The song Heathens by rap-rock duo Twenty One Pilots is definitely the best of the bunch that manages to feel perfectly in place with the film without losing the bands identity either. Heathens is one of their most well known songs now and is definitely high on the pretty small list of good things to come from this mangled film.
16. ‘Scotty Doesn’t Know’ – EuroTrip (2004)
Performed by Lustra
Matt Damon has some of the best film cameos under his belt, including his performance as a bald-headed lead singer of a party band in the raunchy teen comedy EuroTrip. The song contains numerous references to the main character Scotty being cheated on by his girlfriend with the lead singer that are both lewd and hilarious. It’s catchy, silly and just plain fun.
15. ‘Sunflower’ – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Performed by Post Malone and Swae Lee
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a stunningly creative film that smashed the box office and became a fan favourite instantly for its dazzling visuals and hilarious script. The entire soundtrack for this film is brilliant and fits the teen character of Miles Morales perfectly, but the stand out song is definitely Sunflower. This upbeat summer song is a definite earworm.
14. ‘Weird Science’ – Weird Science (1985)
Performed by Oingo Boingo
Danny Elfman rocks up on the list, not as a composer but as the frontman of Oingo Boingo and writer of the song Weird Science. Released for the film of the same name about two teens that create the perfect woman. He may not be as proud of this as some of his, and the bands, other works but the song is definitely a quintessential original song that is insanely 80’s.
13. ‘St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) – St Elmo’s Fire (1985)
Performed by John Parr
Following form from Weird Science is another crazy 80’s soundtrack song, St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion). I can’t lie, this is not my favourite film in the world but the song is damn catchy and definitely works with this coming-of-age film. This song has gone on to be used in multiple other films including one on this list, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
12. ‘Eye of the Tiger’ – Rocky III (1982)
Performed by Survivor
Wrap your hands and put on your trainers, it’s time for a boxing montage. With it’s punchy beat and motivational lyrics its no wonder Eye of the Tiger became such an anthem. Originally Stallone wanted the Queen track Another One Bites the Dust but when Queen declined we ended up with this anthem of athleticism that has become synonymous with Rocky.
11. ‘We Are Sex-Bob-Omb’ – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Performed by Sex Bob-Omb ((Michael Cera, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Beck and Brian LeBarton)
Edgar Wright knows how to put a film soundtrack together, heavily proven in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The soundtrack includes original songs written by Beck and performed by the band within the film Sex Bob-Omb. Whether you call it LaunchPad McQuack or We Are Sex Bob-Omb it’s high-energy incredible tune that sets the flavor of the film instantly in the opening credits. It deserved its Critics Award win!
10. ‘Glory’ – Selma (2014)
Performed by Common and John Legend
Another Academy Award winner, Glory is a powerful, emotional and impactful song by Common and John Legend. Created for the historical drama film Selma about the march from Selma to Montgomery for civil rights. The lyrics hold relevance to the true historical events and reference other civil rights activists and protests throughout history. It is a protest song that resonates even beyond the film it was created for.
9. ‘Accidentally in Love’ – Shrek 2 (2004)
Performed by Counting Crows
Every romance needs a theme song and the love between Shrek and Princess Fiona is no different. Created for the second film in the franchise Accidentally in Love is a sweet and uplifting song about unconventional love. Featured during the honeymoon montage it’s the perfect song for the lovers and puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.
8. ‘Partyman’ – Batman (1999)
Performed by Prince
When the Joker decides to dedicate a Gotham art gallery to himself he does so to the bouncy rhythms of Prince’s song Partyman. It’s a surreal scene that adds to the strange quality of Nicholson’s Joker and synchs perfectly with the song. Prince created the full album for Batman and even though Batdance was the most commercially successful track from it, Partyman was the most fun.
7. ‘The Edge of Night’ – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Performed by Billy Boyd
In one of the most harrowing scenes from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Denethor asks the hobbit Pippin for a song whilst he gorges on a banquet. The song is The Edge of Night, based on the poem from the original book. It’s delivery is emotional, ethereal and heartbreaking as the scene cross cuts to Faramir’s final battle. Billy Boys gives a beautifully haunting performance here.
6. ‘Cry Little Sister’ – The Lost Boys (1987)
Performed by Gerard McMahon
Gothic, melancholic and with just the right amount of 80’s synth, Cry Little Sister is the perfect song for The Lost Boys. Filled with longing the song works perfectly as the theme for our family of abandoned vampire youths. With a backing orchestra and choir of children singing it brilliantly combines the innocent with the creepy.
5. ‘Danger Zone’ – Top Gun (1986)
Performed by Kenny Loggins
Coming back with his second hit on this list, Kenny Loggins smashes it out of the park again with Danger Zone. This song is guaranteed to amp you up, make you feel super cool and with a strange urge to but aviator sunglasses. It’s pure melodramatic, macho fun that epitomizes the energy of Top Gun.
4. ‘Ghostbusters’ – Ghostbusters (1984)
Performed by Ray Parker Jr.
What kind of list would this be if Ghostbuster didn’t appear? A very, very wrong one. Probably the ultimate in titular songs this catchy tune was inspired by late night TV commercials which gives it its signature jingle. It became a poop culture phenomenon that is still referenced today. So, who you gonna call?
3. ‘The Power of Love’ – Back to the Future (1985)
Performed by Huey Lewis and the News
Back to the Future melded the 50’s and the 80’s together with its soundtrack and created some of the most iconic music moments in a film. The Power of Love is featured a few times in the Back to the Future franchise making it synonymous with the films. Maybe Marty’s bands version isn’t great but the original is a hit.
2. ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ – The Breakfast Club (1985)
Performed by Simple Minds
Everyone raise your fists and repeat after me “Hey, hey, hey, hey!”. Simple Minds may not be the first band that spring to mind when you think All-American, but their song Don’t You (Forget About Me) definitely is. This became a teenage anthem which tapped into the idea of first love, rebellion and the unforgettable moments of growing up.
1. ‘Fight the Power’ – Do the Right Thing (1989)
Performed by Public Enemy
Spike Lee knew his film Do the Right Thing about racial tension on the hottest day in New York needed an anthem that held just as much power as the film itself, so he approached Public Enemy. The song has an incredibly strong presence throughout the film, from Rosie Perez’s opening dance number to Radio Raheem’s ever-present boombox, and perfectly captures the fighting message of the film. Lee wanted a song that was defiant, angry and rhythmic and Public Enemy definitely delivered. Fight the Power demands your attention.