One thing sorely lacking from films these days is a memorable instrumental theme. So few films have great, memorable score - moreover ones that crossover into mainstream culture. Take, for example, Atonement. A Stunning with a capital S score, but no mainstream appeal. Even epics like the Lord of the Rings trilogy...no terribly hum-able. Here's an homage to the best the 80's has to offer.
5. Beverly Hills Cop
Eddie Murphy is Axl Foley...and Axl's theme is techno-synth-pop heaven. This soundtrack yielded quite a few hits, including Glen Frey's "The Heat is On" and The Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance," but Herbie Hancock's theme is quintessential 80's and helped define this character, this film, this era. Incredibly enough, Hancock remains relevant, having won a Grammy this year for best album. Go figure.
4. Top Gun
In case you haven't figure it out, we like Top Gun on this blog. And with good reason! The screaming guitars and and soaring melody make the film's theme an anthem for the ages. When the music swells and Maverick tosses Goose's dog tags into the sea...come on. Magic. Pure movie magic.
3. Back to The Future
Speaking of movie magic, how about a trip back in time to the year 1955? Even the sight of a Delorian or a mention of this film immediately conjures the theme of Back To The Future. Not to mention how many themes use the glockenspiel so effectively?
2. Chariots of Fire
Try running in slow motion without singing the melody. I dare you. I double-dog dare you. The synth-symphony of 1981's Chariots of Fire yielded an Oscar...and imbued the image of a bunch of exhausted Brits slowly...ever so slowly...pushing their way through the surf in search of glory.
1. TIE: The Empire Strikes Back / Raiders of the Lost Ark
It's impossible to choose between two John Williams masterpieces. The Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back defines evil. At the same time, the Indiana Jones theme simply can't be outdone. Re-watching Raiders yesterday in preparation for Indy 4 on Thursday, you can't help but get chills at the trumpets. Where are anthems like this? Not even John Williams writes 'em like this anymore. Granted, he's gone on to create the anthemic and haunting themes for more Spielberg triumphs in the 90's and 2000's (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Catch Me If You Can), but these two works are simply beyond reach