Rock music and films have a long and fruitful history of collaboration. From the early days of rock and roll to the present day, rock songs have been used to enhance the mood, atmosphere, and emotion of films.
Rock songs can also become iconic and memorable parts of films, creating unforgettable scenes and moments that resonate with audiences. Whether they are original compositions or existing songs, rock songs can add a lot of value and impact to films.
In this article, we will rank the 10 best rock songs in films, based on their popularity, quality, and relevance. We will also provide some background information and analysis for each song. Here are our picks:
10. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey (The Sopranos)
This song is the final song that plays in the last scene of the last episode of the acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos. The song is a classic power ballad by the American rock band Journey, which was released in 1981.
It is about holding on to hope and dreams, despite the challenges and uncertainties of life. Many artists have covered the song, and many media have featured it. It is one of the most popular and recognizable rock songs of all time in films.
The upbeat and optimistic lyrics of the song create a contrast and a tension with the dark and ominous situation that Tony Soprano faces in the show’s final moments. He waits for his family at a diner, while suspicious and threatening figures surround him.
It implies that he might face death or arrest at any moment. The song also creates a sense of ambiguity and mystery. It abruptly cuts off before the final chorus, leaving the fate of Tony and his family unresolved.
9. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem (8 Mile)
This song is the theme song of the 2002 film 8 Mile. It stars Eminem as a struggling rapper who tries to make it in the Detroit rap scene. The song is an original composition by Eminem, who also co-produced it with Jeff Bass and Luis Resto.
It is a rap-rock anthem that features a hard-hitting guitar riff, a pounding drum beat, and a catchy chorus. The song is about seizing the opportunity and overcoming the fear of failure. Eminem raps about his own struggles and challenges as an artist.
The song is used to motivate and inspire the main character, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr.. The main character faces a crucial rap battle that could determine his future. It also reflects Eminem’s own life story.
When he rose from poverty and adversity to become one of the most successful and influential rappers of all time. The song received critical acclaim and commercial success, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song. It became Eminem’s first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (Rocky III)
This song is the theme song of the 1982 film Rocky III. It stars Sylvester Stallone as a boxer who faces a formidable opponent in Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T. The song is an original composition by Survivor, who were commissioned by Stallone to write it after he heard their previous song “Poor Man’s Son”.
It is a hard rock tune that features a distinctive guitar riff, a driving drum sound, and a powerful chorus. The song is about rising up to the challenge and fighting back against the odds. Survivor sings about having “the eye of the tiger”. It is one of the most popular and recognizable rock songs of all time in films.
The song is used to accompany Rocky’s training montage, as he prepares for his rematch with Lang. It also symbolizes Rocky’s transformation from a complacent and overconfident champion to a hungry and determined challenger.
The song received critical acclaim and commercial success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. It become Survivor’s only number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. “Back in Black” by AC/DC (Iron Man)
This song is the opening song of the 2008 film Iron Man. It stars Robert Downey Jr. as a billionaire inventor and superhero. The song is a classic hard rock song by the Australian rock band AC/DC, which was released in 1980.
It is the title track of their seventh studio album. It was the first to feature Brian Johnson as the lead singer, after the death of Bon Scott. The song is about resilience and rebirth, as AC/DC sings about coming back stronger and louder than ever.
The song introduces Tony Stark, the main character of the film, as he arrives in Afghanistan to demonstrate his latest weapon. It also foreshadows his transformation into Iron Man. He survives a terrorist attack and builds a suit of armor to escape.
The song is a fitting and iconic choice for the film, as it reflects Stark’s personality and journey. The song also became a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was used again in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers.
6. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen (Wayne’s World)
This song is the most famous song of the 1992 film Wayne’s World. It stars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as two friends who host a public-access television show. The song is a legendary rock opera by the British rock band Queen, which was released in 1975.
It is a complex and ambitious composition that features various sections, styles, and vocals. The song is about a man who confesses to killing someone and faces the consequences of his actions. It is one of the most popular and recognizable rock songs of all time in films.
Wayne, Garth, and their friends sing along to the song in their car. It created one of the most memorable and hilarious scenes in the film.
The scene captures the fun and joy of listening to music with friends, as well as the humor and absurdity of the song’s lyrics and structure. The scene also helped to revive the popularity and appreciation of the song. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1992, 17 years after its original release.
5. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds (The Breakfast Club)
This song is the theme song of the 1985 film The Breakfast Club. It stars Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy as five high school students who bond during a Saturday detention.
Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff wrote the synth-pop anthem for the Scottish rock band Simple Minds. The song expresses the desire to be remembered and appreciated by someone. Simple Minds sings “Don’t you forget about me / Don’t don’t don’t don’t / Don’t you forget about me”.
As the five students leave the school and go their separate ways, the song closes the film. It also plays over the iconic freeze-frame of John Bender (Nelson) raising his fist in the air. The song captures the mood and message of the film.
It is about finding friendship and identity among different cliques and stereotypes. The song also became a pop culture phenomenon. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1985, becoming one of the most recognizable songs of the 1980s.
4. “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses (Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
This song is the closing song of the 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg who protects a young boy from a more advanced and deadly cyborg. The American rock band Guns N’ Roses released the hard rock song in 1991. It is about a dysfunctional and abusive relationship.
Axl Rose sings about how his partner is a cold and heartless person who treats him badly. The song also features a reference to the film’s main character. Rose sings “With your bitch slap rappin’ and your cocaine tongue / You get nothin’ done / I said you could be mine”. It is one of the most popular and recognizable rock songs of all time in films.
The song creates a contrast and a connection between the film’s theme and the song’s theme. The film is about the conflict between humans and machines. The possibility of a nuclear war that could destroy humanity. The song is about the conflict between lovers, and the possibility of a breakup that could destroy their relationship.
It also creates a link between the film’s protagonist and the song’s narrator. Both of them are trying to save something that they care about, but are also facing resistance and rejection. The song is a fitting and iconic choice for the film, as it reflects its tone and message.
3. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen (Shaun of the Dead)
This song is one of the most memorable songs of the 2004 film Shaun of the Dead. It stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two friends who try to survive a zombie apocalypse. The British rock band Queen released the classic rock song in 1979. It is about having fun and living life to the fullest.
Freddie Mercury sings about how he feels unstoppable and invincible, and how he wants to have a good time. The song also features some references to science fiction and fantasy, such as rockets, satellites, tigers, and Mr. Fahrenheit. It is one of the most popular and recognizable rock songs of all time in films.
The song plays on the jukebox, while Shaun and his friends fight off a horde of zombies in a pub. It created one of the most hilarious and absurd scenes in the film. The scene contrasts the upbeat and optimistic lyrics of the song.
It shows the grim and violent situation that the characters face. It also parodies the typical action movie clichés, such as slow-motion shots, dramatic poses, and synchronized movements. The scene is a brilliant and funny example of how music can enhance comedy and satire.
2. “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys (The Departed)
The American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys released the punk rock song in 2005. It became one of the main songs of the 2006 film The Departed. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg as four men who are entangled in a complex web of crime and deception in Boston.
It features traditional Irish instruments, such as bagpipes, tin whistle, and mandolin, as well as electric guitars, drums, and vocals. The song is based on an unfinished poem by Woody Guthrie. It tells the story of a sailor who loses his leg while looking for a wooden leg in Boston.
The song reflects the Irish-American culture and history of Boston. It creates a sense of identity and atmosphere for the film. The song also creates a sense of energy and tension for the film. It accompanies some of the most intense and action-packed scenes in the film, such as chases, shootouts, and fights.
The song also matches the tone and theme of the film, which is about loyalty, betrayal, and violence. The song is a perfect and powerful choice for the film, as it captures its essence and spirit.
1. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith (Armageddon)
This song is the theme song of the 1998 film Armageddon. It stars Bruce Willis as an oil driller who leads a team of astronauts to stop an asteroid from hitting Earth. Diane Warren wrote the power ballad for the American rock band Aerosmith.
It is about expressing love and devotion to someone. Steven Tyler sings about how he doesn’t want to miss a moment with his lover. The song also features a guitar solo by Joe Perry and an orchestral arrangement by David Campbell. It is one of the most popular and recognizable rock songs of all time in films.
The song creates an emotional impact for the film. It accompanies some of the most romantic and dramatic scenes in the film. For example, the father-daughter relationship between Harry Stamper (Willis) and Grace Stamper (Liv Tyler), and the love story of A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck) and Grace.
The song also became a pop culture phenomenon, as it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1998. It became Aerosmith’s first and only number-one single. The song also received critical acclaim and recognition, winning a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.
The Bottom Line
Rock music and films have a great synergy, as they can enhance each other’s mood, atmosphere, and emotion. Rock songs can also become memorable and iconic parts of films, creating unforgettable scenes and moments that resonate with audiences. Whether they are original compositions or existing songs, rock songs can add a lot of value and impact to films.
These are our picks for the 10 best rock songs in films. Do you agree with our list? What are your favourite rock songs in films? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out these films and songs, which are available on various streaming platforms.