Authors/Film & TV Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

Published on March 3rd, 2022 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


Movies With the Most Iconic Theme Songs of All Time

Do you love a movie with a great soundtrack? If so, continue reading to familiarise yourself with the film with the most iconic theme songs of all time.

If you are a confessed cinephile or long-time music lover, you could probably list your favourite movie soundtracks in a split second. It may sound cliché, but music can evoke particular memories we didn’t even realise we remembered, and movie theme songs, in particular, can completely transform how we interpret an entire movie or scene from start to finish. It can also inform the audience of how they are supposed to feel as opposed to how they want to feel and, in doing so, create a sense of empathy and compassion. To familiarise yourself with the most iconic movie theme songs of all time, continue reading to find out everything you need to know.


If you can’t even listen to the first note of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On without welling up, you will understand its pivotal role in James Cameron’s Titanic when it was released to the public in 1997. It was initially written for the blockbuster as nothing more than an instrumental motif, but with the lyrics perfectly encapsulating the heartache and trauma that plays out on-screen, it has since become synonymous with the heart-wrenching scene that sees Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack and Kate Winslet’s Rose pretend to fly on the soon-to-be doomed ship as well as the entire movie as a whole. It was at the movie’s premiere where the true impact of the movie’s theme song was truly realised, however, as some of the industry’s most stoic critics were reportedly reduced to tears from the second the first note hit until the end credits rolled. 

Top Gun 

It may not necessarily pull on the heartstrings in the same way that Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On did but amidst the non-stop action and drama of 1986’s Top Gun, which has also experienced something of a revival in the form of popular Top Gun slots in recent years, is one of the most iconic movie theme songs of all time. It was aptly titled Top Gun Anthem and was written by Harold Faltermeyer with Steve Stevens playing on the guitar. If that wasn’t enough, the movie, which sees Tom Cruise expertly portrays the character of LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, has become known for having one of the most successful movie soundtracks of all time over the years. With songs such as Take My Breath Away earning the blockbuster an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Brit Award for Best Soundtrack, a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, the film is a real memory jerker.

Dirty Dancing 

In 1988, a match in music history was made when songwriter Franke Previte, who reportedly only had $100 in his bank account, was acquainted with Patrick Swayze at that year’s Academy Awards. It was poised to only be a small movie with little advice and guidance on how to approach the task of penning the film’s theme song with the iconic dance scene having already been filmed. It did, however, end up becoming one of the most iconic movie theme songs in history. Few people can listen to the first couple of notes without either singing along or being reminded of the moment that Patrick Swayze’s Johnny Castle lifts Jennifer Grey’s Frances Houseman into the air in a dramatic dance move. That one move alone is guaranteed to leave even the most rigid movie-goers feeling something. That scene has since become symbolic not only of the movie as a whole but also as the theme song to many people’s lives, with the song’s chorus mimicking how they felt when they met the love of their lives and had, as a result, the time of their lives. 

Star Wars Episode IV 

If you were, and still are, a fan of the most successful science-fiction franchise ever to grace the silver screen by the name of Star Wars, you can probably still recall the first instalment’s iconic theme song. It has been replayed and reused millions of times in the years since for its uncanny ability to create a sense of anticipation, triumph, and adventure, as John Williams trumpet-fuelled Main Title explodes onto the screen, and into the ears, of viewers ready and waiting to experience the multi-faceted space-age story that spawned a global franchise that has yet to conclude to this day almost 50 years later. 

You probably already have your favourites if you know a thing or two about movie theme songs. It was the enduring popularity of Titanic’s My Heart Will Go On, Top Gun’s Top Gun Anthem, Dirty Dancing’s (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, and Star Wars Episode IV’s Main Title; however, that truly made an impact on the film industry forever. 


Featured Image by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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