Turn it up to eleven…
To make a great movie, one must accompany it with a great theme song – a song that will be remembered for years to come and be synonymous with the feature. Throughout the decades, directors have meticulously selected songs to offer musical translations of their films, some with extreme success.
This selection of theme songs are lacking any composed scores, as many audiences would agree, they belong on a whole list to themselves. The musical gifts below are those that are more familiar to charts than they are to orchestras and ones that specifically would be perfect additions to your playlist.
The highly poignant and politically significant Spike Lee film perfectly articulates the rising racial tension between the African-American residents and Italian business owners within an American neighborhood. The soundtrack embraces the culture of the film and enforces the message throughout the film.
Composed by Spike Lee's father, the songs within the film are all iconic in their own right. However, "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy has often become synonymous with the film. This empowering anthem will uplift both yourself and your playlist.
You can't have a list on the subject of music and not include the work of Baz Luhrmann. His films live and breathe music, and The Great Gatsby is no different. Among the flapper girls and cigars, 'The Great Gatsby' offers the audience both a fun and romantic soundtrack. At the forefront of this soundtrack is the graceful and beautiful song "Young and Beautiful" by Lana Del Rey.
Del Rey's beautiful timeless voice is a perfect match with the timeless love story of Gatsby and Daisy, along with the combination of the classical orchestra to transport audiences back into the 1920s. The grace and sophistication of the song are a must-have for anyone's playlist.
One of Marvel's most adored films, Black Panther features the late, great, Chadwick Boseman, who was taken too soon. His legacy as King of Wakanda lives on within the film and the coinciding music. Nominated for several prestigious awards, including a Golden Globe and Academy Award, Kendrick Lamar and SZA's musical masterpiece was used for the end credits of the film and stuck in the minds of the fans.
The song is another empowering addition to the list, with the lyrics emoting a sense of triumph among those weighing you down – matching the overall theme of the movie. Handpicked by Ryan Coogler, Kendrick Lamar uses his incredibly lyrical talents to prove to audiences to rise above.
A groundbreaking film from Sony that aesthetically embraces the comic book roots of the red spandex-ed hero needed a catchy song. Post Malone and Swae Lee come together to create a catchy and happy tune "Sunflower" that sets the tone of the whole movie.
Debuting at number 9 on the US Billboard charts, the song slowly climbed up the charts to the top spot, as more audience members fell in love with the film and the song together. A perfect song to start your morning, Post Malone's groove and unique voice will be an asset to anyone's playlist.
This Irish modern-day love story is as beautiful as it is sad, follows the love story between two musicians in Dublin. The composers of the film, whose musical relationship fueled the narrative, offer the audience some beautiful folk songs that play on the heartstrings. The lead song "Falling Slowly" was so adored that even Bob Dylan wanted the two starring actors to open his world tour.
Beating out several Disney films, the song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and it's not hard to see why. A song to listen to as the rain pours, the guitar and piano that make such an impact in the film, continue to make an impact without the visuals of the film.
Co-producer and director Sean Penn chooses the unlimited talents of Eddie Vedder as the muse of this beautiful biographical drama. Depicting the life of Christopher McCandless, who became tired of suburban life, hitchhiked his way across America, to live a life of solitude, touching the hearts of everyone he met along the way.
The film beautifully weaves Vedder's award-winning music into the simplistic life of McCandless. Chris's thoughts concerning his failure to preserve intimate friendships, his distaste for material items, and his feelings, in general, are shared in the lead song "Guaranteed". The song sticks with audiences after watching the film, both bewitching as it is tragic.
This 1967 classic starring a young Dustin Hoffman, gives audiences a glimpse of a more than complicated mother/daughter relationship. A staple in any film buff's arsenal, the movie amplified the music of the folk duo, Simon and Garfunkel, now two of the most iconic musicians in not only their genre but the music industry.
"Mrs. Robinson" is one of the pair's most famous and loved songs, with the title directly referencing the temptress of the film. The simple and raw voices matched with the simple acoustic guitar will inject that much-needed element of upbeat folk music, a perfect gateway into the genre.
Easily considered one of the most powerful films of the 2010s, Damien Chazelle's aesthetically stunning musical La La Land took critics by storm. The soundtrack filled the radio stations and audience's phones, with the writer Justin Hurwitz as the lyrical genius behind the songs.
The lead theme song "City of Stars" has Ryan Gosling using his low-toned voice as Seb, the struggling and brooding jazz pianist. The simplistic piano and more low-key nature of the song contrast with the huge uplifting tracks playing in the rest of the song. It perfectly brings the movie down to the roots of Gosling's character and his journey in the "City of Stars".
Although the James Bond themes belong on a list of their own, "Skyfall" deserves a spot on this list. Adele's soulful and rich tone is perfect for 007, and a perfect addition to the Bond theme songs. Winning two Oscars, two BAFTAS, and two Grammys, Skyfall is the only James Bond film that grossed over $1 billion worldwide, projecting the song into the stratosphere.
Adele is one of Britain's most adored musicians, with her immense talent with lyrics and her powerful vocals. Releasing her song on "James Bond Day" marking the 50th anniversary of the franchise, Adele swept the world off its feet with the insanely strong and powerful song. A definite powerful addition to anyone's playlist.
The visually intricate and stunning jukebox musical Moulin Rouge consists of a variety of songs stretching across all genres and being blended with the essence of musical theater. Out of the rich soundtrack, there are a few standout songs, and "Come What May" perfectly embodies the love and desire between Satine and Christian, unknowing of what is soon to come.
The sweet vocals of McGregor and the sultry tones of Kidman, mix perfectly together to express the epitome of love. The lyrical innocence of the tragedy of the film sticks with the audience. A playlist always needs romantic songs scattered throughout the others, and it would be a pity to not introduce this one.
Next:The Oscar Winning Movie Soundtracks of the Decade: 1990 – 1999
Alice has recently finished her Undergraduate degree in Film Studies as the University of Winchester. She is currently writing list articles for Collider and is excited to further her experience in the world of film.
Sign up for Collider's newsletter for exclusive news, features, streaming recommendations and more
Turn it up to eleven…