The 1980’s were a great time for songs from movies, including memorable offerings from Prince, Tina Turner, Huey Lewis and the News, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Dolly Parton and Blonde.
Who can forget Ghostbusters and Flashdance and Dirty Dancin?.
No one had more big screen hits back then than Kenny Loggins. The opening notes to his title track from Footloose and to Top Gun’s “Danger Zone” are instantly recognizable.
The decade’s sports movies featured some classic tunes as well, and Loggins got it off to a great start in 1980 with “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack.
Loggins scored again with the 1987 ballad “Meet Me Halfway” from the Sylvester Stallone clunker Over the Top, which is about a truck driver who is on a quest to capture his son’s affection and the world arm wresting championship. Also featured is a rocker from Sammy Hagar, “Winner Takes It All.” Spoiler alert, Stallone takes it all.
For something a little more highbrow, Chariots of Fire, a film about the 1924 Olympics, won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Picture and its instrumental theme song was an Oscar winner too.
Vision Quest, a forgettable flick about a high school wrestler, gave us one of the most memorable ballads of the 1980’s in Madonna’s “Crazy for You.”
Since I’ve seen it broadcast on ESPN, I’ll call billiards a sport, so we’ll include “It’s in the Way That You Use It” by Eric Clapton from The Color of Money.
And since rodeo is definitely a sport, if we stretch out to mechanical bull riding, we can include the entire soundtrack from Urban Cowboy, highlighted by Johnny Lee’s “Looking for Love.” Staying in the country genre, Kenny Rogers starred as a stock car driver in the 1982 film Six Pack and sang the theme song “Love Will Turn You Around.”
James Brown made a big comeback with 1985’s “Living in America” from Rocky IV, the one where they battle Russian Ivan Drago.
The Karate Kid franchise gave us a couple of memorable songs. Survivor performed “The Moment of Truth” in the 1984 original, while Peter Cetera scored a huge hit with “The Glory of Love” in 1986’s sequel. But it was earlier effort from Survivor that set the gold standard for sports movie themes.
Stallone’s original Rocky had been a commercial and critical success, winning the Oscar in 1976 for Best Picture. Rocky II was one of 1979’s highest grossing films, so another sequel was a given.
Stallone wanted to use “Another One Bites the Dust,” but could not get permission from Queen. So in stepped an unknown band named Survivor.
They wrote “Eye of the Tiger” specifically for 1982‘s Rocky III. It’s the one where they battle Mr. T. The song won a Grammy Award and still gets the blood pumping today whenever it comes on the radio.