Every year, the Academy Awards honors a musician with the Best Original Song Oscar, and almost every year, the Academy Award embarrasses itself. On the whole, the category, which was created in 1934, rewards compositions that pull at the heartstrings with an overly aggressive, occasionally life-threatening touch. The list of winners provides an incomplete history of the fascinating intersection between the music business and film industry. There’s a real need for alternate canons — especially if they include Kenny Loggins.
With all apologies to Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away,” that’s what we’re here do to. The crafting of a cohesive movie soundtrack may be an increasingly lost art, but the original movie song endures, giving you something to hum as you walk to the car from the theater or close the Netflix tab. Sometimes it’s a perfect thematic fit with the film’s narrative. Sometimes it just sounds good. Sometimes it’s “Eye of the Tiger” and you end up getting pulled over on the drive home. These are the 33 movie soundtrack anthems you’re still listening to long after the credits roll.
Here are the ground rules: We’re only including songs recorded and released for a movie. That means the use of “Layla” in Goodfellas does not make the cut — neither does your favorite needle drop from Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, or David Lynch. Also, we’re not including any movie musicals. (Sorry, Disney fans.) And to make this a somewhat manageable task, we’ve limited ourselves to English-language films made after 1960.