Help me find more 80s soundtrack theme songs ABOUT their parent films.
February 19, 2014 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Help me remember music videos from that magical era when bands would record theme songs for (often horror) movies that were actually lyrically about the movies themselves and the artist would sometimes appear in the video and the video would be a story video and...well you know. Think Ramones' "Pet Sematary" or Dokken's "Dream Warriors"

So far I have those two and the brilliant Alice Cooper Friday the 13th theme "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)"
posted by Senor Cardgage to Media & Arts (59 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
One of my all-time favorites is "Electric Dreams" by P.P. Arnold, which has a crazy narrative lyric that basically describes the entire movie plot. This is not to be confused with the other title track of the film, the most excellent "Together in Electric Dreams."
posted by mynameisluka at 12:10 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters Theme?

El Debarge's Who's Johnny? isn't exactly lyrically about Short Circuit, but the video sure is.
posted by brentajones at 12:15 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

I can't remember which ones had videos, but the soundtrack to the Wes Craven movie "Shocker" was a wall-to-wall metalfest.
posted by jbickers at 12:16 PM on February 19

Killer Klowns from Outer Space by the Dickies, for the movie of the same name. No video though.

The Ballad of Harry Warden played over the end credits of My Bloody Valentine, sung by an uncredited John McDermott.
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on February 19

Not 80s, but the Brian De Palma film Snake Eyes had a Meredith Brooks song called "Sin City", which liberally quoted the movie's own screenplay.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:19 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Killer Klowns from Outer Space yt by the Dickies, for the movie of the same name. No video though.

I remember seeing a video for this song on Beavis and Butthead.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:20 PM on February 19

Holy shit you're right! I had no idea this existed.
posted by griphus at 12:23 PM on February 19

"On Our Own" from Ghostbusters 2
posted by inturnaround at 12:24 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Yeah, so, The Stand by The Alarm predates the miniseries adaptation by about ten years, and Nature Trail To Hell by Weird Al Yankovic is about a movie that does not, technically, exist, but I thought I'd throw them out there anyway
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:30 PM on February 19

Weird Al did the song "Polkamon" for the second Pokemon movie and "Spy Hard" for Spy Hard.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:32 PM on February 19

Goonies/Cyndi Lauper mashup

Edit to add Ob video
posted by k5.user at 12:33 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

"Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney, for the James Bond movie of the same name.

Queen did the soundtrack music for "Flash Gordon", and I assume that included the title track.

(UPDATE: Oops; not sure these were music videos...)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:37 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

One of my favorites is Wang Chung's "To Live and Die in L.A."
posted by heatvision at 12:38 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Do Will Smith's MIB and Wild Wild West songs count?
posted by jozxyqk at 12:40 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Yes they very much do.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:41 PM on February 19

I'm not sure if it's what you're looking for, but the theme song from Real Genius used Tears for Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule the World. The song fits with the theme of the movie really well, though the official band video didn't use the movie. But, the movie did use clips from the band's video in their video. Shrug.
posted by homesickness at 12:41 PM on February 19

Is Prince's "Batdance" appropriate for this purpose? Because it's appropriate for basically every purpose in my own life. (I can't find the video on YouTube, though, because Prince hates the Internet.)
posted by honey wheat at 12:42 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

That's because the internet is a fad, honey wheat. You know that.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:43 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Freddie Mercury appears in the video for "Princes of the Universe" with Christopher Lambert, and the video includes clips from Highlander (1986). Six or so other songs from "A Kind of Magic" were included in and are nominally about plot elements of Highlander.
posted by Kakkerlak at 12:58 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Ooh, and Neverending Story!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:07 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

When the Going Gets Tough from Jewel of the Nile is not about the movie lyrically, but the video is filled with movie clips, plus Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito in matching white suits acting as backup singers.
posted by MsMolly at 1:10 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

cameron crowe asked the smithereens to write a girl like you for 'say anything', but at the end, he decided the lyrics were too close to giving away the whole plot. not sure if that counts, but it totally does!
posted by koroshiya at 1:14 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

"A Girl Like You" was written by The Smithereens as a title track to Say Anything, but was thrown out because the lyrics gave away the plot of the film.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:15 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

posted by JoeZydeco at 1:15 PM on February 19

posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:17 PM on February 19

Check out the Giorgio Moroder compilation Magic Movie Hits, which includes a couple of the tracks ("Together in Electric Dreams" and "Neverending Story") already mentioned above.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:25 PM on February 19

Oh wait I've got a trifecta:

Madonna - Who's That Girl

Theme song sung by the star of the film singing in the music video showing clips of the film!
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:27 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill" for the James Bond movie.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:29 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Not sure if it qualifies on a number of levels (not 80's, doesn't recap whole plot of movie, movie is itself a musical...) but how about "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:42 PM on February 19

Pretty in Pink. Although did the song come out before the movie???
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:43 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Do movies adapted from songs count? Like Convoy, or Earth Girls Are Easy?
posted by ckape at 1:44 PM on February 19

And in the same vein, Valley Girl. Again, movie based on the song. (And it had the nerve to be good.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:46 PM on February 19

Flash! Aaa--aaaaaahhhh!
posted by Mchelly at 1:56 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill" for the Bond movie of the same name.

In fact, this is sort of part of the Bond canon, right? Always two Bond girls, always a song from/for the movie?
posted by Thistledown at 2:12 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Big Trouble in Little China, by John Carpenter's band. Such a terrible video and song, but it fits.
posted by BiffSlamkovich at 2:24 PM on February 19

St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion) - St. Elmo's Fire / John Paar
Danger Zone - Top Gun / Kenny Loggins
Eye of the Tiger - Rocky 3 / Survivor
Don't You (Forget About Me) - The Breakfast Club / Simple Minds
The Secret of My Success - The Secret of My Success / Night Ranger
The Heat is On - Beverly Hills Cop / Glenn Frey
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:33 PM on February 19

Oingo Boingo, Weird Science

Is Prince's "Batdance" appropriate for this purpose?

I think this is an excellent suggestion. If you listen to the entire Batman soundtrack CD, (Prince's, not the Danny Elfman movie score) the song lyrics pretty much follow the storyline of the movie.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:50 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I confess that I have never seen Karate Kid 2. But I have always assumed, based on the gloriously cheesetastic video, that the lyrics are in some vague way connected to the movie.
posted by Stacey at 2:55 PM on February 19

M.C. Hammer: Addams Groove

Seal - Kiss from a Rose (Batman Forever), and U2 - Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me (Batman and Robin) continued the trend begun by Prince's Batdance of tying in a pop single to a Batman movie, but it's not explicitly clear that they are lyrically related to the movie. All three, of course, were a menace to the pop airwaves from overplay, ugh.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:13 PM on February 19

Back in Time - Huey Lewis and the News
posted by cazoo at 3:23 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Eurythmics' 4th album "1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)" was a synth-pop score for the movie "Nineteen Eighty-Four" released in the year, wait for it, 1984.

It's actually a pretty good album if you like their sound and the genre they inhabit. "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)" is probably the best-known track and a winner for certain but for my money, "Doubleplusgood" is the best of the album. The latter includes some "news flash" audio excepts from the movie.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:34 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Keeping with Beverly Hills Cop, there was Harold Faltermeyer's score piece "Axel F," which has no lyrics, but is named for Axel Foley, the memorable, F-bomb-spewing Detroit Cop in LA played by Eddie Murphy, back when he was a threat to the morals of America, not a clown found in kids movies. Axel F might be disqualified for being a score piece, and lacking lyrics, but charted to #1 in 1985, which distinguishes it from most score music.

BHC II brought us "Shakedown" from Bob Seger, which does have lyrics that tie to LA and has the movie in its video, but doesn't *really* touch on the plot any more than it would touch on, say, "The Big Sleep" or any other action|noir set in LA.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:43 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

No video for Ice Cube's "Higher" from Higher Learning, unfortunately, but he is in the movie, and the song covers the film's plot, including a spoiler for the climax.
posted by themanwho at 3:44 PM on February 19

Fame and Flashdance
posted by Zen_warrior at 4:15 PM on February 19

Frank Stallone - Peace in Our Life.
There was unfortunately no video for It's a Long Road.
posted by modofo at 6:43 PM on February 19

Can't believe no one's said Footloose yet!
posted by Specklet at 6:58 PM on February 19

Grease by Frankie Valli. I guess technically every song from the film Grease would count. (It's from 1978, but you accepted the Will Smith songs, so I thought maybe there was flexibility there!)

I also think "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" from Saturday Night Fever would count.

Best one: Ninja Rap ("go ninja, go ninja, go!") by Vanilla Ice from the Ninja Turtles movie. (It's from 1991.)

edit: If you're interested in 90s examples, this list isn't bad.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:07 PM on February 19

Romancing the Stone by Eddy Grant
When the Going Gets Tough by Billy Ocean (Jewel of the Nile)
Sweet Freedom by Michael McDonald (Running Scared)
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:08 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Over the Top!
posted by bink at 8:19 PM on February 19

J. Geils Band - Fright Night
posted by oh yeah! at 4:57 AM on February 20

Alice Cooper - "He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)" from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
posted by doctornecessiter at 5:25 AM on February 20

And sticking with 80s slashers but going more obscure/terrible, here's the theme song from 1982's Madman.

1981's Don't Go In The Woods had an even dumber theme song with "plot"-centric lyrics, but I can't seem to find a link to that one.
posted by doctornecessiter at 5:33 AM on February 20

Can't believe no one's said Footloose yet!

The problem with all the Kenny Loggins and Irene Cara theme songs is that the videos for most of those are 100% footage from the film and you never see the artist singing the song or acting out the story, or they had no official videos at all, which I think is what the OP looked for.

Otherwise yeah then you have Footloose, Caddyshack, Caddyshack II, Fame, Flashdance, DC Cab, etc etc etc.

Oh and Lindsey Buckingham's video for Holiday Road (National Lampoon's Vacation) is, um, totally Lindsey Buckingham. But very 80's.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:04 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]

"Leatherface" by Laaz Rockit from Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (technically 1990, but January)

Fat Boys "Are You Ready For Freddy" from Nightmare on Elm Street 4.

Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd rappin' the theme from the 1987 Dragnet movie.
posted by JDC8 at 11:22 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]

Would Xanadu count?
posted by SisterHavana at 12:06 AM on February 21

Just found another one. "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" by Eels has a video featuring the cast of Road Trip (2000) on a short schoolbus singing the song, interspersed with clips of the movie. Lyrically unrelated to the movie plot, but the other movie-tie-in elements are present.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:56 PM on May 10

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