From irresistible dance classics to adrenaline-pumping rock anthems, here are our picks for rad ‘80s soundtracks that inject a healthy dose of nostalgia. 

Ahh, the '80s. It was a totally awesome time filled with spandex, fuzzy leg warmers, big hair, and neon colors. While these elements may be as outdated as that VCR gathering dust in your basement, there are plenty of '80s movie soundtracks that will likely never go out of style.

While there's no shortage of great '80s songs, the key to a truly great movie soundtrack is when a film becomes synonymous with its music. "Danger Zone" likely triggers flashbacks to Top Gun's fighter jets and aviator sunglasses, and there's no separating Dirty Dancing's famous lift from the ever-iconic "(I've Had) the Time of My Life."

Whether you're reliving the best (and worst) of high school with a John Hughes film or busting a move with Flashdance or Footloose, these films are a welcome blast from the past. Here, in no particular order, is our list of the best '80s movie soundtracks that stand the test of time.

BIG CHILL, William Hurt, Jobeth Williams, Jeff Goldblum, Meg Tilly, Tom Berenger, Kevin Kline,
Credit: Everett Collection

The Big Chill

We're sure you heard it through the grapevine that The Big Chill brought oodles of joy to the world, and so much good lovin'. Despite the film's themes of suicide, infidelity, friendship, and fallout, its soulful '60s soundtrack manages to make it a crowd-pleaser. We're talking tracks by legendary acts like Marvin Gaye, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Smokey Robinson, Three Dog Night, Aretha Franklin, and the Temptations. The Big Chill is arguably one of the most beloved movies of the '80s, delivering standout performances from Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, and Jeff Goldblum among others — and its songs are truly timeless. 

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FLASHDANCE, Jennifer Beals
Credit: Everett Collection

Flashdance (1983)

What a feeling, indeed. Irene Cara's iconic, hyper-catchy theme song helped skyrocket Flashdance into the stratosphere of must-see dance-themed flicks that dominated the '80s. And who could forget the electric scenes of an 18-year-old steel town welder (Jennifer Beals) with big ballet dreams dancing like she's never danced before? Featuring Michael Sembello's "Maniac," Karen Kamon's "Manhunt," and Frank Dimino's "Seduce Me Tonight," the Flashdance soundtrack won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and a Grammy, making it one of the more decorated movie music compilations of the decade.    

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FOOTLOOSE, Lori Singer, Kevin Bacon
Credit: Everett Collection

Footloose (1984)

Kenny Loggins' "Footloose'' may be one of the catchiest theme songs to ever hit the airwaves, and we dare you not to tap your feet or even hit the dance floor when it plays. Do your best Kevin Bacon impression and scream, "Let's daaaaaance!" while you're at it. Along with Loggins' '80s staple, Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It for the Boys'' could have also single-handedly solidified Footloose's spot on our list, as could 'Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Foreigner, "Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson, and, lest we forget, Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero."

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Photo by Vestron/Kobal/Shutterstock (5884882z) Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey Dirty Dancing - 1987 Director: Emile Ardolino Vestron USA Scene Still Drama
Credit: Vestron/Kobal/Shutterstock

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Nobody puts Baby in the corner, and nor should anyone miss an opportunity to fire up the Dirty Dancing soundtrack again and again. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes' "(I've Had) the Time of My Life" snagged the Academy Award for Best Original Song, which is no surprise, given that it was the unofficial anthem for every dreamy-eyed teen in the summer of '87. Few could resist this love story between a young woman and her dance teacher; and everyone wished they could recreate the heat between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze (in an improvised scene!) as she crawled across the floor towards him while lip syncing "Love Is Strange" by Mickey and Sylvia. Other standout songs include "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Frankie Valli, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles, "Do You Love Me" by the Contours, and "In the Still of the Night" by the Five Satins. 

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PURPLE RAIN, Prince, 1984
Credit: Everett Collection

Purple Rain (1984)

Perhaps one of the best musical films ever made, Prince's Purple Rain has so many classic songs that you just can't pick one favorite. "Let's Go Crazy," "When Doves Cry," and "I Would Die for You" are all so brilliant, and all so perfectly Prince. Not to mention the title track, which is a tour-de-force ballad of raw, emotional edge.  A pinnacle of '80s pop-rock, Prince's Purple Rain soundtrack will always remind us of the late, enigmatic musician's singular talent and vision. 

Listen on: Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube, and Soundcloud

E.T., (aka E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL), from left: Henry Thomas, E.T., 1982, © Universal/courtesy
Credit: Everett Collection

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

You can thank the pure genius of legendary composer John Williams for E.T.'s sweeping, gorgeous score. Its many symphonies perfectly accompany the heartwarming story of a wrinkly yet adorable extraterrestrial and the little boy helping him return home. If your heart doesn't burst with a thousand tears after listening to the "Flying Theme," you, my friend, might be made of stone. 

Listen on: Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora, and Apple Music

Back to the Future (1985)
Credit: Ralph Nelson/Universal

Back to the Future (1985)

The Back to the Future soundtrack truly has it all. Composer Alan Silvestri delivers rapid tempos, matching the exuberance of Marty McFly as he zips through the streets on a "board with wheels." Meanwhile, Huey Lewis and the News play out our sci-fi fantasies with the high-energy double shot of "Power of Love" and "Back in Time. Top it off with Michael J. Fox's (admittedly phony) performance of "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry, and you've got yourself the perfect feel-good ending. This soundtrack is one of those rare gems that has both instrumental classics and the kind of pop-ified hits that keep us listening, humming, and aching to hop into a DeLorean for a trip to the past... or the future. 

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Beverly Hills Cop
Credit: Everett Collection

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Anchored by pop-tastic hits such as Patti LaBelle's "New Attitude," Glenn Frey's monstrously addictive "The Heat Is On," and, of course, Harold Faltemeyer's synth-driven instrumental theme "Axel F,"  the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack is the musical reflection of shattered windows and chase scenes. Its songs are big, loud, and head-turning, just like Eddie Murphy's larger-than-life performance as a rebellious, wisecracking, and ultra-clever cop working undercover in the lavish SoCal city. We are definitely feeling the burn doin' the neutron dance, and you will be, too. Trust us.

Listen on: Spotify 

FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, Matthew Broderick, 1986"
Credit: Everett Collection

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Yello's "Oh Yeah" may be the breakout song from John Hughes' hit 1986 film, but the moment Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller lip-syncs "Danke Schoen" atop a float in downtown Chicago as his friends stand by in disbelief, we swooned. Follow that up with a raucous rendition of "Twist and Shout," complete with a marching band, and we've got more than a few moments of cinematic gold on our hands.

Listen on: Spotify

25 Most Stylish Movies
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Pretty in Pink (1986)

Oh, to be young, misunderstood, and not-so-simply smitten, the growing pains all of which are expressed within Pretty in Pink's ever-moody soundtrack. Listeners are treated to a continuous playlist that reflects the characters' teen angst with songs like Suzanne Vega's "Left of Center," contributions by INXS and Echo & the Bunnymen, the title track by the Psychedelic Furs, and, yes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's indelible hit "If You Leave," which perfectly unfolds in the film's climactic moment. And what better song than the Smiths' self-pitying "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" to capture poor Ducky's unrequited love? It's all so melodramatic, so painfully '80s, and so worth tuning into time and time again. 

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Say Anything (1989)

When Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) hoisted a boombox over his head and blasted "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel to the girl of his dreams, we didn't just melt — we passed out in a pool of Aqua Net. That scene might just be the epitome of teen love on the silver screen. Beyond that ballad to end all love ballads, the Say Anything soundtrack includes gems by Cheap Trick, Depeche Mode, and the Replacements, making it a quintessential '80s soundtrack. 

Listen on: Pandora

Credit: Everett Collection

Stand by Me (1986)

Though its tracklist doesn't contain a single '80s song, we'd be remiss not to include the music from Stand by Me. The soundtrack to Rob Reiner's revered 1986 adaptation of Stephen King's novella set in 1959 was the cassette we'd pop in our tape decks and become awash with nostalgia as songs by the Bobbettes, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis flowed through the speakers. Plus, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't adore Ben E. King's soul classic that serves as the title track to this coming-of-age tearjerker, which launched the careers of Jerry O'Connell, Wil Wheaton, and the late River Phoenix.

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Credit: Everett Collection

Top Gun (1986)

The high-flying hits of the Top Gun soundtrack made it one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time. It's virtually impossible not to get charged up listening to Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" as you conjure up images of Maverick, Iceman, and Goose (RIP) blazing through the skies in their fighter jets and playing volleyball on the side. However, you can just as easily temper your adrenaline with the soaring, melodramatic anthem "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin, and Loverboy's slow, sweet ballad, "Heaven in Your Eyes." 

Listen on: Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music

Credit: Everett Collection

The Breakfast Club (1985)

What happens when five students from different cliques get Saturday detention in the suburbs of Chicago in 1985? Just a plethora of catchy songs, quippy dialogue, and layers upon layers of teenage confessionals. In John Hughes' Brat Pack staple The Breakfast Club, Karla Devito's "We Are Not Alone" serves as the killer tune that gets the gang out of their seats for a library dance montage. However, we all know the true crown jewel of this soundtrack, "Don't You (Forget About Me)'' by Simple Minds, which bookends the film and will forever be tied to John Bender's triumphant fist pump in its final frame — and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

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THE GOONIES, Kerri Green, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Sean Astin, Ke Huy Quan (aka Jonathan Ke Quan)
Credit: Everett Collection

The Goonies (1985)

A bunch of scrappy, ragtag kids on the hunt for buried treasure need a top-notch anthem to propel their excursion, wouldn't you think? Fortunately, the filmmakers behind The Goonies didn't disappoint, appointing the one and only Cyndi Lauper to pen and perform "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough," which is exactly what's needed to give this adventure film a good dose of '80s flair. Throw in the Bangles' "I Got Nothing" and REO Speedwagon's "Wherever You're Goin' (It's Alright)" and this rip-roaring soundtrack provides the ideal musical journey we should all embark on. 

Listen on: YouTube Music

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

John Williams followed up the "Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back with the "Raiders March," one of the many exhilarating compositions that guides Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones as he races through caves and dodges boulders in Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Raiders soundtrack can make anyone feel like a tried and true adventurer, even now, decades later. And it's a seriously energizing way to pump up your next early morning run — whether you're escaping bad guys or not. 

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SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, 1987. (c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy:
Credit: Everett Collection

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Yet another quality teen-centric dramedy written by John Hughes, Some Kind of Wonderful is chock-full of quirky, fast-paced, and utterly hypnotic '80s music. "Do Anything" by the Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley, "She Loves Me" by Stephen Duffy, and Lick the Tins' pulsingly peppy cover of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" are all reason enough to revisit this underrated 1987 flick, which stars Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Lea Thompson

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