The Ten Most Memorable Movie Themes
10. The Godfather
The haunting sounds of the Godfather theme was an instant masterpiece. Its unique melody is instantly recognizable and always associated with the great American classic. The music equals the excellence of the film-making itself.
The Rocky theme is the ultimate anthem of determination and perseverance. How can you listen to this song and not feel like jogging up a flight of steps and raise your arms in triumph when you reach the top? It is the theme of the underdog, music for overcoming the odds.
8. Beverly Hills Cop
Ah, the 80s. That wonderful decade where music was populated by synthesizers and the theater screens were dominated by police action films. And what movie tune was catchier than Beverly Hills Cop? Once it gets into your head its both infectious and exciting.
7. The Pink Panther
The theme song for this Niven/Sellers classic comedy is so catchy and recognizable, it easily earns a place on this list. It’s slow, jazzy style gives a sense of playful mystery, which matches the movie perfectly. I dare you to try to listen to this tune without snapping your fingers and tapping or toes, or without actually feeling like the pink cartoon cat from the opening credits himself.
6. Dr. No
Need I say more about the James Bond theme song? After 20+ movies, ts easy for a theme song to become so embedded in the auditory centers of movie goers. Sure each Bond film has their own theme song, usually by some guest artist. But remnants of the original theme is always present. And once you hear it, you know that the most famous spy in the world is nearby.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
One of the most heroic themes in the movies, the Indiana Jones theme is one of John Williams’s many rousing instrumental pieces. Every time I hear it I feel like swinging from a rope over a gorge, or as if there is a giant boulder behind me. This theme seems to capture adventure in its very notes and is instantly recognizable as the anthem for one of cinema’s greatest action heroes.
Sometimes simplicity is the key. In this case, a few high pitched notes are all that’s needed to make a spine-chilling theme that would be hard for anyone to forget. This haunting, terrifying theme is featured most prominently in Psycho’s infamous shower scene and one could easy make the argument that this is so infamous because of the music itself.
3. Star Wars
Stars Wars is one of the most popular movies in the world, if not the most popular. Therefore its hard for its theme song not to be one of the most recognizable of movie themes. The Star Wars score was quite a big deal back in 1977 as it brought the sweeping scope of a full bodied orchestra back into the cinema soundscape. Just as Star Wars brought the enormity of storytelling back to the big screen, John Williams brought the enormity of great rousing music back as well.
2. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Choosing the top two themes on this list was a tough decision, since they are both so ingrained in popular culture by this time. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has a theme which is pretty much the default tune which comes to mind whenever a western movie is mentioned. It seems to represent the entire genre and is the ultimate “showdown” music. It is far and away one of the most recognizable tunes in movie history.
As I have said before, simplicity is the key. The extremely well-known Jaws theme song is characterized by only a couple of notes, yet no other soundtrack is quite as haunting or as ominous. Its hard not to get your heart pumping the moment you hear it.
The reason I chose Jaws over Good, Bad & Ugly is that although both are instantly recognizable, the majority of the public would be able to tie the Jaws theme to its movie more so than they would with Good, Bad, Ugly. Ask almost anyone to hum the Jaws theme for you, and they will be able to in an instant. It is the most recognizable and most memorable movie theme of all time.