“Play it again…” : Top 20 Greatest Film Scores of All Time.
I LOVE music!!! All kinds of music from soul to R&B, old school hip hop to funk, classical, gospel, rock, the occasional country etc. Many classic movies have their own iconic pieces of musical scores\themes that were and so beloved and popular that they found themselves winning Grammys and even having their single score topping the Billboard charts. Most if not all of the true classic ones are just as revered today and have gone on to inspire many film scores, and even a few classic television themes, for decades to come. We all have our favorites. The ones that stuck with us long after the film was over. So get ready to spend a whole morning\afternoon\evening getting caught up in listening to score after score because of this.
20. The Avengers Main Title Theme. The Avengers. By Alan Sivestri.
The triumphant tune comes blasting heroically as the heroes it was made for. Unforgettable and pumps you up for the Avengers assembling every single time it plays.
19. The Terminator Main Title Theme. The Terminator 1 and 2. By Brad Fiedel.
As robotic and haunting as the titled character. This theme\score for the first two Terminator movies are so perfect and mesmerizing. While both versions are slightly different, they’re both equally perfect.
18.Bad Boys Main Title Theme. Bad Boys. By Mark Mancina.
Reeking Miami flavor, this score for Bad Boys hits all the right notes. Gets you all pumped up to go on a wild ride with Mike and Marcus as they take down all Miami’s worst scum with guns blazing and singing the Bad Boys song… only knowing the chorus, of course.
17. Back To The Future Main Title Theme. Back To The Future Films. By Alan Silvestri.
A another truly great triumphant tune by the great Alan Silvestri. Back To The Future is a classic movie and the main theme is just as beloved and classic in many a fan’s heart. It reeks of adventure and excitement that echoes what we all feel whenever we watch the films.
16. Soul Bassa Nova. Austin Powers International Man of Mystery. By Quincy Jones.
“Groovy, babyyyy!” this main score from Austin Powers has been rearranged in the two sequels following the first film, but this version by the iconic Quincy Jones is truly the best and most memorable.
15. As Time Goes By. Casablanca. By Max Steiner.
How ironic that Max Steiner actually wanted the score dropped from the film because he thought it wouldn’t work. But in this case, thank God he was overruled by the producers\studio and the song has gone on to have a life of its own as one of the all time great love songs. It has since been covered by many artists, including Seth MacFarlane from Family Guy who just may have did it best after Dooley Wilson.
14. A Sentimental Mood. Love Jones. By John Coltrane and Duke Ellington.
Smooth, elegant and as sensual as two lovers kissing in the moonlight, this classic and beloved tune by two icons found its way to the 1990’s audience thanks to Love Jones introducing it to many who were nowhere near around when it debuted. What makes the Love Jones soundtrack so iconic is how beautifully diverse its playlist is ranging from smooth old Jazz tunes to Modern R&B. Including songs by Prince and Lauryn Hill.
13. Prelude . Psycho. By Bernard Herrmann.
Perfectly haunting, frenetic and heart pumping. Gets you in the right frightening mood for one of the scariest films of all time. The orchestra work is stunning.
12. James Bond Theme. James Bond Films. Monty Norman.
The one thing that has stayed the exact same throughout all the Bond films over the decades is this masterful tune by the late Monty Norman later updated by David Arnold.
11. The Ecstasy of Gold. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. By Ennio Morricone.
A song so ahead of its time as far as just pure innovative combinations of many different instruments and old westy sound effects. The song has become so iconic that you’ve heard pieces of it, especially the “WA WA WAAA!” part in every tv show, movie, even commercial that has to do with the old west. It was on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for a year and peaked at number 2 on June 1st 1968.
10. Men In Black Main Title Theme. Men In Black Films. By Danny Elfman.
The added sound effects of bugs chirping and other little noises of creatures only adds to the amazing sound of this iconic theme from the Men In Black series. So perfectly mysterious, spooky and amazingly cool all at the same time. A real crime that it lost the Oscar for Best Original Score back in 1998.
9. Rush Hour Main Title Theme. Rush Hour Films. By Lalo Schrifrin.
Through all three of its variations, the Rush Hour theme by Lalo Schrifin is always strong, exciting and gets you ready for some Kung Fu action. A perfect blend of spy espionage with Kung Fu funk.
8. Jaws Main Title Theme. Jaws. By John Williams.
When the legendary composer John Williams first came up with this iconic song it started with just two simple little notes on his piano. When Steven Spielberg first heard it he wasn’t exactly impressed. He thought it needed much more flair and power to it. Well, to Steven’s credit he admitted how wrong he was after this “simple” piece of music became one of the most iconic pieces of music in cinema history. The primal nature of it is a perfect illustration of the horrifying shark and his omnipresence.
7. Superfly. Superfly. By Curtis Mayfield.
Who doesn’t instantly recognize this song in the first few chords? The epitome of 70’s funk, Curtis Mayfield’s main title for the 1973 Blaxploitation hit Superfly. The song was such a hit that it became the second single released from the album and reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the Best Selling Soul Singles chart. Curtis Mayfield and his Superfly track is the embodiment of 1970’s cool as much as Issac Hayes and his Shaft track.
6. Spiderman Main Title Theme. Spiderman 1, 2 and 3. By Danny Elfman.
Truly one of the most heart pumping scores for any superhero\comic book film in history. It’s just so Spiderman and illustrates both the joy and pain of being Spiderman for Peter Parker. I personally find it to be Danny Elfman’s true masterpiece.
5. Speak Softly Love. The Godfather. By Nino Rota.
Come on. This theme is one of the all time most recognizable ever done and is it’s the most associated piece of music with The Godfather, even outranking its main title score “The Godfather Waltz” also composed by Rota. It’s so wonderfully old country Sicilian and beautifully romantic at the same time. Out of all the covers the hip hop version in my opinion is the best one that gets close to hitting you as much as the original. With this score, I’m making you an offer you can’t refuse.
4. Superman March\Main Title Theme. Superman: The Movie. By John Williams.
The number 1 greatest theme for any superhero\comic book movie ever made as well as just one of the all time greatest cinema scores period. John Williams outdid himself with this one. This theme is so associated to Superman that even if you have never seen the Christopher Reeves Superman movies you’d recognize this theme in an instant and associate it with any Superman portrayed more than their own themes.
3. Gonna Fly Now. The Rocky Films. By Bill Conti.
Everyone on the planet has worked out to this theme at one point in their lives. A truly inspiring and victorious score that makes you feel like you can go to distance with anyone in the ring as Rocky did. The chorus shouting “Flying high now” and Rocky making it to the top of the stairs with the horns full blasting brings tears to the eyes every time. No song in history has stirred up the truly powerful and triumphant feeling that this one does. Thanks, Bill Conti.
2. Axel F. The Beverly Hills Cop Films. By Harold Faltermeyer.
Nothing perhaps defines the eighties more than the Axl F theme from the Beverly Hills Cop series. Just so memorable and fun to listen to as well as hum. Axl Foley is one of the world’s most iconic characters and this iconic piece is just as iconic and suits him beautifully.
- Theme From Shaft. Shaft. By Issac Hayes.
A true masterpiece in every sense of the word. This song by the late great Issac Hayes is not only iconic because of how truly amazing it is, it also changed the game for scoring of movies, and specifically scores for films featuring black heroic leads. It’s as perfect a song as you could ask for with the brilliantly versatile uses of different instruments. The long build up consisting of solos of bass, horns, violins, guitar etc. is masterful. And it wouldn’t be anywhere near as iconic without Issac Hayes’ vocals that so perfectly hypes John Shaft up as the super badass black private dick whose the sex machine to all the chicks. It’s hard to think of two greater moment in human history than when Mr. Hayes received the Oscar for the Theme From Shaft and when he did a killer live performance on David Letterman. It’s not hyperbole to state that this one single has influenced various pieces of music and artists since and we can dig it.
Say goodbye to the rest of your morning\afternoon\evening as you fall into the musical abyss.