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Soundtrack to Our Lives: 10 Movie Songs We Keep On Repeat In Our Playlists

A well-scored film can create a powerful viewing experience. A film with a theme song can extend the legacy of the film for decades. Much like movie collectors, music collectors used to collect records, tapes, and CDs of their favorite movie soundtracks, always hitting repeat. The age of streaming has created an on-demand experience for music as it has for movies with platforms like Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, and YouTube. Instead of watchlists, movie lovers create playlists of their favorite cinematic songs, with several of them on repeat.



RELATED: 10 Best Movie Songs of All Time, According to Billboard

From animated films to musicians turned actors, the songs of these films have been left on repeat for years, making a lasting impression with music and movie lovers. Some won Oscars, and some are just iconic. Every time we hear these songs, we can’t help but sing along and head straight to our go-to streaming service to watch the movie. Whatever music mood you’re in, there’s a song here for you.

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‘Danger Zone’ — ‘Top Gun’ (1986)

An iconic film isn’t complete without an equally iconic song. “Danger Zone” from the 1986 action hit Top Gun remains a playlist favorite for any movie lover. Featured in the opening scene (following opening credits), the song sets the mood for the film focused on the United States Navy elite fighter pilot school where a young hotshot pilot, Maverick (Tom Cruise), finds himself at odds with the rest of his classmates.

While the song was not nominated for an Oscar, “Danger Zone” remains a staple in the action genre following its feature in Top Gun. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Thomas Whitlock, rocker Kenny Loggins performed the song. The song was featured again in 2022’s sequel Top Gun: Maverick opening scene. Top Gun is available to stream with a subscription to Paramount+ and Amazon Prime, while the sequel won’t hit streaming until this fall.

‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ — ‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985)

An ’80s anthem, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” is still on repeat for any movie buff’s playlist. This track was written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff for the end scene and credits for The Breakfast Club. As Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) writes the essay and his voiceover reads it, the detention misfits leave for the Saturday with a better understanding of life than when they walked in. The synth-pop track is still popular decades later, making it almost criminal not to replicate Bender’s (Judd Nelson) fist pump into the air when listening to it.

While the song was offered to several artists, Simple Minds, a Scottish rock band, ultimately accepted the offer and recorded it for the movie. The song did not earn the coveted Best Original Song nomination. The Breakfast Club is available with subscriptions to several platforms like Peacock, The Roku Channel, and Amazon Prime. Renters can find the film on YouTube, Apple TV, and Vudu.

‘Shallow’ — ‘A Star is Born’ (2018)

From the 2018 remake of A Star is Born, “Shallow” became an Oscar-winning song that is still stuck in our heads. The love song was written by Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando, Lady Gaga, and Mark Ronson. In the film, the song stemmed from Ally (Gaga) sharing a few verses with Jackson (Bradley Cooper) after the two first meet. At his next performance, Jackson surprises Ally with an entire arrangement and completed lyrics, inviting her to sing onstage.

“Shallow” is a duet between Gaga and Cooper, the pair performing the song at the 91st Academy Awards, where it would win Best Original Song. The film was Gaga’s leading lady debut and Cooper’s directorial debut. A Star is Born is available for streaming for free with cable subscriptions on TNT and TBS, with subscriptions to Hulu or Sling TV, and for rental on other platforms.

‘Happy’ — ‘Despicable Me 2’ (2013)

Written, produced, and performed by Pharrell Williams, “Happy” proved that Disney wasn’t the only animation studio that could produce Oscar-worthy songs. For the hit sequel Despicable Me 2, “Happy” served as the movie’s central theme as Gru (Steve Carell) continues his journey from super-villain to hero dad, all while falling in love.

In several interviews, Williams indicated he tried to capture the feeling of a perpetually grumpy, sad character falling in love and used that as inspiration for the song. Catchy and upbeat, the music is a staple in sunny day playlists no matter the age, generation, or if you’ve seen the movie. Nominated for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards, “Happy” did not take home the win. Despicable Me 2 is available with subscriptions to Hulu or Peacock and for rental on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and Apple TV.

‘City of Stars’ – ‘La La Land’ (2016)

A song about a dreamer in the city of dreams, “City of Stars” from La La Land, features a solo performance from Ryan Gosling. The film stars Gosling as Sebastian, a jazz pianist trying to navigate a music career as he falls in love with Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress sorting through her career woes. There are two separate performances of this song, one as Sebastian ponders the growing relationship between himself and Mia. The second features Mia as the two perform an extended version over a montage of their relationship as they grow apart.

“City of Stars” would go up against “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” Mia’s solo song in the film, at the 89th Academy Awards. Written by Benj Pasek, Justin Hurwitz, and Justin Paul, “City of Stars,” would take home the win and add six total wins of the night. La La Land is available on Hulu or for rental on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Vudu.

‘9 to 5’ — ‘9 to 5’ (1980)

A triple threat, country music royalty Dolly Parton starred in the film, wrote, and performed “9 to 5.” The working woman song went hand-in-hand with the movie of the same name about three women who fantasize about getting even with their sexist, bigot, and lying boss. Co-starring with Parton were Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

9 to 5 earned one Oscar nomination at the 52nd Academy Awards for Best Original Song but failed to take home the golden statute. The film was Parton’s feature film debut and earned her the first of two Oscar nominations throughout her career. 9 to 5 is available to watch with subscriptions to HBO Max or Hulu and available for rental on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Vudu.


‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ — ‘Encanto’ (2021)

Disney’s biggest song of all time (for now), “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” became Disney’s first song to hit number one on Billboard’s charts since 1993. Penned by music-man Lin-Manuel Miranda, the hit was performed by the cast members Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, and Stephanie Beatriz of 2021’s Encanto. The song lets viewers in on the secrets of the estranged brother Bruno and his future predictions that negatively impacted his family members.

Despite not being nominated for an Oscar at the 94th Academy Awards, the cast performed the song during the broadcast. No matter the age of the viewers, the song is undeniably catchy and has made it onto several playlists for Disney fans and movie lovers. Encanto is available for streaming on Disney+.


‘My Heart Will Go On’ – ‘Titanic’ (1997)

Remaining a karaoke go-to decades after its release, “My Heart Will Go On” will continue to go on for decades with a place on our playlists. The track was featured as the motif music and power ballad for James Cameron‘s Titanic, a romance film about the sinking of the famed ocean-liner in 1912. Performed by acclaimed Canadian songstress Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On” was an all-hands-on-deck production.

The music was composed by the film’s composer James Horner while Will Jennings wrote the lyrics. The song was released as a single on Dion’s album “Let’s Talk About Love,” in addition to the film’s soundtrack. It took home the Best Original Song at the 70th Academy Award, adding to the 11 total wins for the film. Titanic is currently available for streaming on Netflix or for rental on Amazon Prime, Vudu, or Apple TV.


‘I Will Always Love You’ — ‘The Bodyguard’ (1992)

A cover that has surpassed the original, “I Will Always Love You” was written and originally performed by country legend Dolly Parton. Whitney Houston‘s 1992 cover for The Bodyguard is now certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America. The film features Houston as fictional R&B singer Rachel Marron who forms an unlikely relationship with her bodyguard, former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner).

The song is featured in the final scenes of the film. With Houston’s immaculate vocal range and strength, this version of “I Will Always Love You” has remained a cultural sensation decades later. The Bodyguard is available to stream for free on Tubi or for rental on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and Apple TV.


‘Lose Yourself’ — ‘8 Mile’ (2002)

Producing the ultimate pump-up song, Eminem‘s (Marshall Mathers) only feature film leading role led to an Oscar win for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself.” 8 Mile features the decorated rapper as Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith, a struggling rap artist whose friends and enemies stand in the way of making it big. The song appears at the end of the film as Rabbit walks away following the final rap battle, the song playing through the credits.

“Lose Yourself” was written by Jeff Bass, Luis Resto, and Eminem. Following its nomination at the 2003 75th Academy Awards, Eminem did not perform at the ceremony. The song would win, to his surprise, and Resto accepted the award. Eminem would get his chance to perform 17 years later at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020. 8 Mile is available for streaming on Netflix or rental on Amazon Prime, Applet TV, or Vudu.

KEEP READING: 5 Film Scores by Alternative Musicians that Shook Things Up


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