The 49 all-time best songs made for movies, ranked

DisneyElsa singing ‘Let It Go’ in ‘Frozen.’

When done correctly, a song made for a movie doesn’t just elevate the viewing experience but links it with that movie forever.

There are examples when that formula has backfired. Think back to Nickelback’s forgettable “Hero” for 2002’s “Spider-Man.” We’re also still trying to erase from our memories Limp Bizkit’s version of the “Mission: Impossible” theme song that they did for 2000’s “Mission: Impossible 2.”

Thankfully over the decades there have been a lot of songs made for movies that have worked. And not just on the screen but also as standalone tracks. Many made-for-movies-songs went on to win Oscars, Grammys, or have been sewn into the fabric of pop culture. Think Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” theme song, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” for “Titanic,” or Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” for “Frozen.”

Here are the 49 all-time best songs made for movies, ranked:


49. “Flash” sung by Queen (“Flash Gordon”)

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“Flash Gordon” opened in theatres in 1980.

A highlight of the trippy 1980s “Flash Gordon” movie, the song features the face-melting guitar licks from lead guitarist Brian May (who also wrote the song).

You can listen to the song here.


48. “The Climb” sung by Miley Cyrus (“Hannah Montana: The Movie”)

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Miley Cyrus sang “The Climb” in “Hannah Montana: The Movie.”

This twangy power ballad from the “Hannah Montana” movie was an instant hit. The song went on to be No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2009 and was the eighth-best selling digital single that year.

You can listen to the song here.


47. “9 to 5” sung by Dolly Parton (“9 to 5”)

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(L-R) Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda in “9 to 5.”

The title song from the comedy starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda has since become an anthem for hard-working office workers. The song earned Oscar and Grammy nominations.

You can listen to the song here.


46. “Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” sung by Doris Day (“The Man Who Knew Too Much”)

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Doris Day in James Stewart in “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

Putting songs in movies wasn’t something Alfred Hitchcock did much of, but in the case of his 1956 movie “The Man Who Knew Too Much” he used it perfectly. This wasn’t just a major tool for the plot (which led to it winning a best song Oscar), but became the song Doris Day would be best known for.

You can listen to the song here.


45. “We Don’t Need Another Hero” sung by Tina Turner (“Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”)

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Tina Turner in “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.”

Not only did Tina Turner sign on to play the villain in the third (and wackiest) film in the “Mad Max” franchise, but she also sang the film’s song, which would go on to be one of her biggest hit singles.

You can listen to the song here.


44. “Everything Is Awesome” sung by Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island (“The Lego Movie”)

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“Everything Is Awesome” was written for “The Lego Movie.”

The movie’s theme song landed on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 57 and landed on charts around the world. I mean, can you really get this catchy tune out of your head?

You can listen to the song here.


43. “You’re the Best” sung by Joe Esposito, (“The Karate Kid”)

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“The Karate Kid” has a montage for the ages.

Played over the montage of Daniel LaRusso fighting at the karate championship at the end of “The Karate Kid,” this song has become legendary for being the type of song that defined future movie montage sequences.

You can listen to the song here.


42. “All the Stars” sung by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (“Black Panther”)

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Chadwick Boseman in “Black Panther.

If you don’t already have enough of a feel good feeling by the end of “Black Panther,” this song when the credits come up will certainly get you to that place. The song earned Oscar, Golden Globes, and Grammy nominations.

You can listen to the song here.


41. “Goldfinger” sung by Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger”)

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Sean Connery in “Goldfinger.”

The third movie in the James Bond franchise marked the first hit song from a Bond movie. It peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in the mid 1960s and has since been inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

You can listen to the song here.


40. “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” sung by Christopher Cross (“Arthur”)

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Dudley Moore in “Arthur.”

The smooth sound of Christopher Cross made this song an instant hit when the movie opened in 1981. It went on to win the best original song Oscar and hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

You can listen to the song here.


39. “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” sung by Three 6 Mafia (“Hustle & Flow”)

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“Hustle & Flow” was an unlikely Oscar winner in 2006.

Some songs are created to be played in the end credits of movies, while others, like this one, become the glue.

Along with the song’s title becoming a pop-culture catchphrase, it also gained huge notoriety when Three 6 Mafia became the first rap group ever to win an Oscar when they took home the best song prize in 2006.

You can listen to the song here.


38. “I Believe I Can Fly” sung by R. Kelly (“Space Jam”)

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Two legends meet in “Space Jam,” Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan.

While R. Kelly’s gospel-fuelled song doesn’t seem to fit a movie in which Michael Jordan plays with WB cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, it actually gives the movie emotional heft when it suddenly plays at the end.

The song it number one on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart in the late 1990s and stayed there on and off for six weeks.

You can listen to the song here.


37. “Live and Let Die” sung by Wings (“Live and Let Die”)

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Roger Moore kicked off his 007 career in “Live and Let Die.”

Paul and Linda McCartney wrote this fast-paced James Bond movie that kicked off the Roger Moore era as 007. This is also the first Bond song to receive an Oscar nomination.

You can listen to the song here.


36. “Hakuna Matata” sung by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella (“The Lion King”)

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It means no worries for the rest of your days.

One of the songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice for the movie, this catchy tune that is also the motto of characters Timon and Pumbaa has since become a staple at kid birthday parties.

You can listen to the song here.


35. “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” sung by Bryan Adams (“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”)

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Kevin Costner in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

Along with the movie being a big hit, Adams’ song became a huge success on its own. Billboard named it the No. 1 song of 1991, and it also won Grammy Awards and was nominated for an Oscar.

You can listen to the song here.


34. “Gangsta’s Paradise” sung by Coolio, featuring L.V. (“Dangerous Minds”)

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Michelle Pfeiffer in “Dangerous Minds.”

Coolio’s biggest hit was this song for a movie in which Michelle Pfeiffer plays an ex-Marine who becomes a teacher in a tough inner-city school. It became one of the best-selling singles of 1995 and Coolio won a best solo rap performance Grammy for it.

You can listen to the song here.


33. “Rainbow Connection” sung by Jim Henson (“The Muppet Movie”)

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Nothing but happy feelings when you watch “The Muppet Movie.”

Fans of the Muppets were certainly excited to see them on the big screen for the first time when “The Muppet Movie” opened in 1979, but along with the amazing puppetry there was also outstanding songs throughout it. This uplifting tune that opens the movie tops them all and still gives out good vibes to this day.

You can listen to the song here.


32. “Sunflower” sung by Post Malone and Swae Lee (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”)

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Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker hanging out in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

This is one of those tunes that once it gets in your head it’s hard to get out (and that’s a good thing). It was in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 for 33 weeks.

You can listen to the song here.


31. “Be Our Guest” sung by Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach “(Beauty and the Beast”)

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“Beauty and the Beast” opened in theatres in 1991.

One of the most memorable musical numbers in the movie, the song has since been lampooned or referenced countless times, including not just in the “Beauty and the Beast” remake but also in the remake of “The Lion King.”

You can listen to the song here.


30. “My Heart Will Go On” sung by Celine Dion (“Titanic”)

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in “Titanic.”

One of the best-selling singles of all time, it also epitomizes the big movie sappy love song.

You can listen to the song here.


29. “Happy” sung by Pharrell Williams (“Despicable Me 2”)

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Try to get “Happy” out of your head after you hear it in this movie.

Like “My Heart Will Go On,” this is another song that became as big as the movie, if not bigger. The retro soul track was inescapable in 2014.

You can listen to the song here.


28. “Maniac” sung by Michael Sembello (“Flashdance”)

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Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance.”

Like “You’re The Best” in “The Karate Kid,” this is another song that is on the Mt. Rushmore of montage sequences. But unlike “You’re The Best,” this song was also a hit on the radio, as it was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in 1983.

You can listen to the song here.


27. “A View to a Kill” sung by Duran Duran (“A View to a Kill”)

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Roger Moore as James Bond in “A View to a Kill.”

The legendary new wave band made this song specifically for the 007 movie and it turned out to be one of their biggest hits. It’s also the only Bond song to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

You can listen to the song here.


26. “Falling Slowly” sung by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (“Once”)

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Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in “Once.”

“Once” director John Carney developed the movie’s script around the songs that were created by his leads, Hansard and Irglová, during production. This one became the movie’s staple and went on to be awarded a best original song Oscar.

You can listen to the song here.


25. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” sung by Randy Newman (“Toy Story”)

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Buzz doesn’t realise he’s just a toy in “Toy Story.”

It’s kind of hard to imagine the “Toy Story” franchise without this song that seems to sum up the entire franchise. One of many hit movie songs from Randy Newman, the track has since been covered by countless others, including Brian Wilson and Michael Bublé.

You can listen to the song here.


24. “Streets of Philadelphia” sung by Bruce Springsteen (“Philadelphia”)

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Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia.”

Bruce Springsteen’s somber hit was a landmark for the legendary rocker. It won four Grammys, including song of the year and best rock song, as well as the best original song Oscar. And though it peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, it was the top single in Germany and France.

You can listen to the song here.


23. “It Might Be You” sung by Stephen Bishop (“Tootsie”)

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Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie.”

This tender song strengthened the love story subplot in this comedy starring Dustin Hoffman as a struggling actor who finds work pretending to be a woman. It would go on earn a best song Oscar nomination.

You can listen to the song here.


22. “You’ll Be In My Heart” sung by Phil Collins (“Tarzan”)

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“Tarzan” opened in theatres in 1999.

Another song that pulls at the heart strings, here Phil Collins delivers a tender ballad that fits perfectly with Tarzan’s journey of self-discovery.

You can listen to the song here.


21. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” sung by B.J. Thomas (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”)

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(L-R) Paul Newman and Robert Redford in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

B.J. Thomas’ song was hugely popular when the movie opened in 1969 and went on to win the best song Oscar. It has since gone on to show up in movies as diverse as “Forrest Gump” and “Spider-Man 2.”

You can listen to the song here.


20. “Moon River” sung by Audrey Hepburn (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”)

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Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

This song was specifically written to fit Audrey Hepburn’s vocal range, and it worked big time. The song won an Oscar, Grammy, and has since been covered by countless others.

You can listen to the song here.


19. “Circle of Life” snug by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M. (“The Lion King”)

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One of the most famous shots ever in a movie.

This powerful song was chosen to open “The Lion King” and it’s hard to imagine the movie beginning any other way.

You can listen to the song here.


18. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” sung by Simple Minds (“The Breakfast Club”)

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Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club.”

Legend has it this song was arranged and recorded in just three hours. However it was done, the result made Simple Minds international stars after “The Breakfast Club” became a hit. An anthem for teens in the 1980s, Simple Minds could never recapture the magic this song has. It was the only hit for the band.

You can listen to the song here.


17. “The Power of Love” sung by Huey Lewis and the News (“Back to the Future”)

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Michael J. Fox knows your kids are going to love it.

This was the first No. 1 hit for the band. It’s hard not to think of Michael J. Fox holding the back of a pickup truck while riding his skateboard around Hill Valley when you hear it.

You can listen to the song here.


16. “Part of Your World” sung by Jodi Benson (“The Little Mermaid”)

This power ballad that expresses Ariel’s desire to be a human is one of those unforgettable Disney songs.

You can listen to the song here.


15. “Fight the Power” sung by Public Enemy (“Do the Right Thing”)

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Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.”

Spike Lee went to Public Enemy specifically for a song to feature in “Do the Right Thing.” Both would go on to become iconic pieces in African-American culture. “Fight the Power” was one of the biggest hip-hop singles of 1989, and it’s still the group’s best-known song.

You can listen to the song here.


14. “Flashdance… What a Feeling” sung by Irene Cara (“Flashdance”)

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Jennifer Beals is a maniac on the floor in “Flashdance.”

Irene Cara’s big hit won an Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy, and was the number three single of 1983. When Billboard did its all-time top 100 in 2008, it was ranked number 26.

You can listen to the song here.


13. “Lose Yourself” sung by Eminem (“8 Mile”)

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Eminem in “8 Mile.”

Along with starring in the movie, Eminem performed, wrote, and produced this hit song that would become the first of five singles in his career that would top the Billboard Hot 100. The song won an Oscar, making it the first time ever a rap song won the award.

You can listen to the song here.


12. “Shallow,” sung by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)

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Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in “A Star is Born.”

The powerful love story of raising star Ally and fading rocker Jackson Maine is sealed with this incredible song the two perform. It would go on to win numerous awards, including an Oscar.

You can listen to the song here.


11. “Purple Rain” sung by Prince and The Revolution (“Purple Rain”)

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Prince in “Purple Rain.”

Prince’s signature song isn’t just the cherry on top of an amazing rock musical movie that also features such classic Prince tunes as “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry,” but its mix of R&B, gospel, and orchestral gave it an epic sound that would make it one of the greatest rock ballads ever created.

You can listen to the song here.


10. “Danger Zone” sung by Kenny Loggins (“Top Gun”)

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Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.”

Another song that you can’t hear without thinking of images from the movie, Kenny Loggins sealed his reputation as “King of the Movie Soundtrack” (he also did memorable songs for “Caddyshack” and “Footloose”) with this song that hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

You can listen to the song here.


9. “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” sung by Elton John (“The Lion King”)

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“The Lion King” opened in theatres in 1994.

In a soundtrack filled with memorable hits, this is the one that stands above them all. Performed by a handful of characters during a sequence in the movie, the song became an international sensation when a version sung by Elton John was released. It would beat out “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata” to win the best song Oscar.

You can listen to the song here.


8. “Theme from Shaft” sung by Isaac Hayes (“Shaft”)

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Richard Roundtree is one bad mother in “Shaft.”

Isaac Hayes actually wanted to audition for the movie’s lead, but instead he went and created one of the most memorable theme songs in movie history. The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971 and won the best song Oscar for Hayes, making him the first African-American to win in that category.

You can listen to the song here.


7. “Let It Go” sung by Idina Menzel (“Frozen”)

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Cold never bothered Elsa.

You knew it was going to show up at some point. Many Disney songs are beloved, but it’s hard to compare this one to the rest. Menzel’s powerful performance has captivated young and old and inspired many.

You can listen to the song here.


6. “Footloose” sung by Kenny Loggins (“Footloose”)

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Kevin Bacon in “Footloose.”

Kenny Loggins is back on the list. This song became one of the biggest hits of 1984 with Billboard ranking it as the number four song of the year (and made everyone try to pull off dance moves like Kevin Bacon). It also won the song of the year at the Grammys.

You can listen to the song here.


5. “Ghostbusters” sung by Ray Parker Jr. (“Ghostbusters”)

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You’re gonna call these guys.

Ray Parker Jr. only had a few days to create a song he was told was for a Bill Murray/Dan Aykroyd comedy in which they play scientists chasing ghosts. But inspired by a commercial he watched late one night, he came up with the song’s catchy “Who you gonna call?” hook. The rest is history. The song has been a pop culture staple since the early 1980s.

You can listen to the song here.


4. “Stayin’ Alive” sung by The Bee Gees (“Saturday Night Fever”)

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John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.”

The song didn’t just elevate the movie – it also defined the disco era. One of the biggest hits by the Bee Gees, the track was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. And like the “Ghostbusters” theme song, this has become an eternal pop culture reference.

You can listen to the song here.


3. “Mrs. Robinson” sung by Simon & Garfunkel (“The Graduate”)

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Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate.”

Obsessed with the band Simon & Garfunkel while making “The Graduate,” director Mike Nichols hoped to licence a few of their songs for the movie. But instead Paul Simon agreed to write songs for the movie. Nichols wasn’t feeling what the duo presented to him at a meeting, but after a quick break, they returned with a rough version of “Mrs. Robinson,” and a classic was born.

The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, was the first rock song to win the Grammy record of the year, and has since been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bon Jovi.

You can listen to the song here.


2. “A Whole New World” sung by Brad Kane and Lea Salonga (“Aladdin”)

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Do you trust Aladdin?

Arguably the greatest song ever created for a Disney movie, this ballad between Aladdin and Jasmin in the movie turned a great story into a new classic for the studio. It also launched song writer Tim Rice into the role of Disney hit maker, as he would go on to pen classic songs for “The Lion King” and the stage adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.”

It is still the first and only song from a Disney animated movie to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

You can listen to the song here.


1. “Eye of the Tiger” sung by Survivor (“Rocky III”)

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The champ is here.

Sylvester Stallone originally wanted to licence the Queen song “Another One Bites the Dust” for the theme song of “Rocky III,” but, unable to get permission, he gave rock band Survivor a chance.

In turn they created the greatest original song for a movie. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks, and won a Grammy for best rock performance.

But the legacy of the song is unparalleled. Along with being synonymous with Rocky (and Stallone), it’s basically the go-to song at any sporting event in the world.

I challenge you not to get pumped up when listening to this song.

You can listen to the song here.

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