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The Nostalgic Attic: Movie Soundtracks : Theme Songs - Part One

2 May 2014

Movie Soundtracks : Theme Songs - Part One

It's one thing I definitely miss when watching a modern comedy or action film; a glorious, title-dropping theme song. I guess tastes have changed somewhat over the last 30 years or so, and having a hit single tied to the film might not be top priority for producers anymore. Luckily enough, there are plenty from the 80's that many of us know and love, that are well worth dusting off and adding to your party mixtape.

Now, obviously, this being 'Part One', there will be plenty of tracks you feel that are missing. Don't worry, I'll probably get to them next time. Probably. And not all of these drop the film title in either, but they were all specifically written for and are now synonymous with the film they appeared in.

Kenny Loggins - I'm Alright (Theme from Caddyshack) 

Kenny Loggins is no stranger to having a hit song as a theme for a film - his other credentials include the likes of Footloose, Over the Top and Top Gun. 'I'm Alright' was the first of a string of film-related hits for him, however, and managed a Top Ten in the States in the same year the film released. Caddyshack is one of my favorites, and me and my brothers must have watched it to death on video, back in the day. This song is forever ingrained in my mind when I picture a gopher puppet sticking his head out of a golfing green.

Shalamar - Just One of the Guys (Theme from Just One of the Guys)

Shalamar were another group who had a few movie-associated hits in the mid-80's, with tracks appearing in Footloose and Beverly Hills Cop, winning them Grammys and top-20 hits alike. Just One of the Guys (reviewed here) was never going to bring them that kind of attention, but I think they did a great job on the track. Both the film and theme tune are underrated, if you ask me.

Dokken - Dream Warriors (Theme from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)

Dokken had great success in the states in the early to mid-80's, opening for such acts as Judas Priest and Dio. But recording the song for the 3rd A Nightmare on Elm Street film was what tipped them over the edge and made them a hit across Europe and the UK. It helped that Freddy was essentially becoming a 'rock star' himself, with merchandising and tie-ins suddenly starting to seem like lucrative ideas to the New Line production house. The track itself is a bit of fun; a typically fluffy hair metal tune from the era, but unsurprisingly, Freddy steals the show at the end of the video.

Ray Jay Parker - Ghostbusters (Theme from Ghostbusters)

Here's a theme track that hardly needs any introducing, Ghostbusters is as popular today as it was when it was released. Ray Jay Parker Jnr had a respectable career in the 70's doing session work for many big names, including The Carpenters, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations, but it took this solo outing for him to dominate the billboard charts for nearly a month in 1984. Unfortunately for him, Huey Lewis and the News weren't too happy with him essentially 'borrowing' the hooks to their track, "I want a new drug", and Parker was forced to settle out of court in '85. Either way, the man won a Grammy for it, and now has one of the most iconic theme tracks ever, that gets constant radio play every Halloween.

Night Ranger - The Secret of my Success (Theme to The Secret of my Success)

This won't be the only Michael J. Fox film on this list (no prizes for guessing what the other is), but this one sports a nifty Night Ranger tune for its theme; not something I would usually use as a selling point, but it is a catchy little number. The film is a mixed bag (but enjoyable), and so is the video for this one; plenty of swanky looking cars with too much big hair and tight trousers. Still, night Ranger had a few hits in their day, and have sold millions of albums, so what the hell do I know?

Oingo Bongo - Weird Science (Theme to Weird Science)

At one point in the mid-80's, Oingo Boingo seemed like they were the 'house band' for movies, the kind of guys that producers turned to if they needed something quirky to play over (and many times 'in') a party scene. Their music was attached to a string of hits including Fast times at Ridgemont High, Bachelor Party and Back to School, but their most recognised track from a film is probably the theme from Weird Science, which was a huge hit in 1985. They were the perfect fitting for this geeky, oddball classic. Founding member, Danny Elfman, went on to have a great career, working on pretty much everything Tim Burton has made since Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Stephanie Mills - Bit by Bit (Theme to Fletch)

Not only is it one of the funniest films from the 80's, but it also has one of my favorite themes from any film, ever. Stephanie Mills had several hits around the time this came out, but sadly 'Bit by Bit' didn't take off in the way it should have. She has a really great vocal performance here, and the tune itself is great fun. It suits Fletch perfectly, and ends the movie on a great note. Enjoy!

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At 9 July 2014 at 20:19 , Blogger Craig Edwards said...

Man - you are so right - they don't do movie songs like this anymore - and they are such great memory touchstones - as this list clearly shows. It's funny that the movie songs are gone and so are most TV show theme songs over here - another missed musical moment.

At 11 July 2014 at 01:27 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

They really don't, do they? I too miss the TV show themes - my wife even more so. She is often heard singing random ones like 'The Facts of Life', and other cartoons she would have grown up with!


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