20 of the best movie soundtrack songs of all time

20 of the best movie soundtrack songs of all time

A movie soundtrack is as important to a film as its visuals. The best soundtrack songs bring the popularity of a film to another level and keep it etched in our minds long after the credits roll. And with Grammys and Academy Awards given for the best original soundtrack songs, filmmakers have called upon some of the best in the music realm over the years to produce solid scores for their films. Of course, not every song is original, or award winning. But that doesn't make it any less memorable to movie-goers. Let's go down memory lane, with 20 of the best movie soundtrack songs of all time. 

'70s

1. "Theme from Shaft," from Shaft (1971)

Isaac Hayes made history when he won the Academy Award for best original song for "Theme from Shaft," a perfect badass funky soulful journey he wrote and recorded. He was the first African-American to win the award.

2. "Evergreen," from A Star Is Born (1976)

Not only did Barbra Streisand star in the film she produced, but she also created a hit love song that went on to gain her a Grammy for song of the year and an Academy Award for best original song. She was the first woman composer to earn the latter accolade.

3. "Stayin' Alive," from Saturday Night Fever (1977) 

You can't play "Stayin' Alive" without thinking about bell bottoms, disco balls and tons of two-stepping. Written and performed by the Bee Gees, it was the theme song to Saturday Night Fever, a film capturing the disco era. An international success, the soundtrack is currently part of the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress. 

'80s

4. "Fame," from Fame (1980)

"Fame," performed by Irene Cara, who also starred in the movie of the same name, brought to life the story of Coco Hernandez and her classmates at a performing arts high school in New York City. The upbeat dance track won an Academy Award for best original song. 

5. "Purple Rain," from Purple Rain (1984)

1984 was Prince's year. He became known as "The Purple One" with the release of this rock ballad, which shared the same title as his album and the film he starred in. Many sung this song as a tribute after he died in April.

'90s

6. "Will You Be There," from Free Willy (1993)

Michael Jackson's heartfelt choir-backed cut about loyalty was the main theme song for the successful film about friendship between a young boy and an orca. The song was originally off Jackson's 1991 album, "Dangerous."

7. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," from The Lion King (1994)

When Simba and Nala grew up and reunited with each other, the makers of Disney's The Lion King chose the perfect song to capture their lovey-dovey moment. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was composed by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice?.

8. "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," from Waiting to Exhale (1995)

This whole soundtrack produced by Babyface had an array of R&B divas, but Whitney Houston, who starred in the film Waiting to Exhale, shined the most on this track about letting go.  

9. "Lovefool," from Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Swedish band The Cardigans successfully crossed over to popularity in the states with the upbeat track "Lovefool," which appeared in the modern film adaptation of the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet.

10. "I Believe I Can Fly," from Space Jam (1996)

"I Believe I Can Fly" continued with the trend of motivational kid movie soundtracks that you likely heard at several graduations. R. Kelly wrote and recorded the song for Space Jam, which may have a sequel soon.  

11. "My Heart Will Go On," from Titanic (1997)

You can't mention the blockbuster Titanic without thinking of Celine Dion's powerful vocals on "My Heart Will Go On." It was the main theme song to the film and was awarded song of the year at the 1999 Grammys. 

12. "Sweetest Thing," from Love Jones (1997)  

Lauryn Hill's "Sweetest Thing" is a warm feel-good track that appeared on the Love Jones soundtrack. The indie film starring Larenz Tate and Nia Long is considered a cult classic

'00s

13. "Lose Yourself," from 8 Mile (2002)

Eminem starred in 8 Mile, a movie about a rapper from Detroit chasing his music dreams while dodging obstacles. The rapper also wrote and performed the Oscar-winning "Lose Yourself," which encompassed the struggle-to-fame story depicted on-screen.   

14. "Falling Slowly," from Once (2007)

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová went from indie to the top when their song "Falling Slowly" received best original song at the 80th Academy Awards. The 2007 film Once was created around several songs the duo wrote. 

15. "Listen," from Dreamgirls (2006)

"Listen" was one of the tracks in the Dreamgirls movie starring Beyoncé. The song was a new addition to Dreamgirls, which borrowed songs from the originally a Broadway play

16. "That's How You Know," from Enchanted (2007)

Disney never fails to bring catchy happy-go-lucky tunes to the screen. In the movie, Amy Adams ponders one of the age old questions — "How does she know you love her?" — as she walks through Central Park and encounters others who chime in to sing as well.

'10s

17. "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me," from Burlesque (2010) 

The iconic voice that is Cher made her return to the big screen in 2010's Burlesque. She also released the empowering number "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" for the film's soundtrack. The song was written by legendary songwriter Diane Warren and won a Golden Globe for best original song in 2011.

18. "Skyfall," from Skyfall (2012)

Adele's take on the moody and mysterious James Bond sound for the 23rd film in the series was a huge success in 2012. She took home her 10th Grammy award for the song. 

19. "Happy," from Despicable Me 2  (2013)

The biggest song of 2014 was on the soundtrack for the animated film Despicable Me 2. Pharrell Williams took "Happy" to the next level by creating a 24-hour film for the record and performing it at the Oscars.

20. "Glory," from Selma (2014) 

Selma, which told the story of the iconic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, was released during a time when another movement had arose: Black Lives Matter. Common and John Legend created a song that matched the film's energy. The track won the oscar for best original song.