Music in a film truly does add so much to the proceedings, it’s practically 1/3 of the movie experience. So what is it about the perfect music in a movie that makes it so impressive and memorable? Well, a great score keeps the story moving, illustrates with music the world we are now viewing and sometimes just pumps us up. Music in movies is not only a powerful accompaniment, but it is also a vital portion of a complete work of art. A great score can make us cry, it can make us laugh and, as our title suggests, it can sometimes make us feel like a complete badass.
Today we are going to be looking at a few movie scores that make us want to beat our chest, go outside and do something exciting with our lives. Sometimes it’s the entire score as a collective and sometimes it’s simply the film’s main theme song that gets our adrenaline pumping the most. So while films like Halloween, Psycho and Gone with the Wind all have some of the most iconic scores in cinematic history, they simply do not grab us in the same way as the films we will be discussing today.
So without further ado, these are the ten most epic movie scores that instantly make us feel badass. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
10. The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman Begins composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard returned to once again give the people of Gotham the soundtrack that it deserves. Incredible is the only word that could be used to describe what they produced for this Christopher Nolan, superhero movie magnum opus.
Let’s start with the track “Why So Serious” which, as you could have guessed, plays every-time Heath Ledger’s Joker shows up to cause mayhem. There is something almost supernatural to this track. It essentially defines the Joker in such a gritty and frightening way, the way it should be. The eeriness creeps up on you as the Clown Prince of Crime slithers through the room with an all too familiar grin sliced across his face. And of course Batman’s main theme is guaranteed to get you in the mood to go out and take justice into your own hands. So whether you’re in the mindset of The Caped Crusader or the Jester of Genocide, this score will most certainly give you the motivation that you need. Thanks again to Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard for this unquestionably epic soundtrack.
9. Superman (1978)
Perhaps no theme song personifies the heart and soul of a pre-existing character quite like John Williams’ for Superman. The two have become inextricably bound, and that is a true testament to the longevity of the music itself. In the score for Superman, Williams moves fluently from the over-the-top and rousing main theme, to a soaring composition for whenever the Man of Steel takes flight.
This kick-ass theme has ultimately taken on a life of its own and has been revived in films, TV series, and other venues without John Williams himself conducting the orchestra. Perhaps the most memorable example of this is “The Race” episode of Seinfeld where Jerry has to race an old high school buddy to proof himself to a woman, appropriately named Lois. When it comes time for the actual race it is the Superman theme playing in the back-round that makes the event seem all the more spectacular and epic.
In the end, you will indeed believe a man can fly and look badass while doing so.
8. Batman (1989)
As epic as the score was for The Dark Knight, it still doesn’t compare the epicness of Danny Elfman’s masterful music in the original 1989 film. From the beginning of his career, Elfman has found a kindred spirit in director Tim Burton. Few director/composer relationships are as successful or have lasted as long. The two have essentially changed how we looked at superhero movies forever. Batman could be taken seriously for the first time because Elfman laid the groundwork, and the genre is all the better for it.
Gone were the brash heroic brass of other superhero scores like John Williams’ Superman, a style that had ruled the genre for over a decade. Elfman took the music in a new darker and twisted direction. Who can forget those fanboy goose bumps that you got the first time you heard that score played over footage of a slowly rotating Batman logo? Just think how epic it would be if we got introduced to Ben Affleck as Batman as this music played. You would instantly drop any doubts that you had and immediately accept the new Dark Knight as the badass that he was meant to be.
7. Mission: Impossible (1996)
The Mission Impossible theme song is the ultimate adrenaline pumping extravaganza; you know that whenever this music comes on, it’s about to go down. Yes, this was originally a TV theme and this film indeed utilizes a lot of the original music by composer Lalo Schifrin. However, when you compare the two, the film version of this theme is just a million times more badass. The reworking of the music brought about a slew of remixes, all equally badass in their own right. You even had two mixes in the movie, the Danny Elfman mix and a rock version U2 mix.
Now, we’ve all been in the midst of doing a random mundane activity when this theme song inexplicably pops into your head. You could be sneaking downstairs to get some Oreo’s and milk in the middle of the night; with this music in your head it’ll make the endeavor all the more exciting. Honorable mention to the electric guitar rendition in Mission Impossible 2 (minus the Limp Bizkit vocals, of course).
6. Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
John Williams’ iconic theme for Indiana Jones doesn’t come up in the movie until after an extended intro, but when it does, it majestically sets the tone of the movie to be a true action-adventure. With his signature use of a strong brass section leading the way, John Williams once again decisively implanted a piece of epic music into our heads forever. Now, a lot of people argue that this is essentially a carbon copy of the Superman theme. Well, they’re incorrect. It’s the Superman theme with a whip, Nazis and snakes on a plane!
Thanks to the master himself Steven Spielberg, the music is ingeniously placed at the most optimal moments of the film, allowing for maximum impact. You’ll usually hear the music when Indy is in the midst of an epic battle or a death-defying escape. What other theme song do you know that can be upbeat and lighthearted and still be absolutely kick-ass? Now who else is ready for Indiana Jones 5? Let’s get Harrison Ford and his geriatric physician on the phone and make this happen!
5. Back To The Future (1985)
To put it simply; everything in Robert Zemeckis’s best movie is better than it had any right to be: the cast, the special effects, the amazingly clever writing, and of course the music. Yeah, it’s not really as hardcore as the other entries on this list but holy smokes, whenever Alan Silvestri’s theme music for Back to the Future comes on it just makes everything seem so ridiculously epic.
The music goes in every possible direction that you could think of. It has the whimsical buildup, it has its action packed moments, it has suspense, and most importantly it has the sweet taste of victory. It’s like the ultimate adventure story told purely though music. It makes the film become deeper than simply a kid traveling back in time. Every instance you hear this song you just want to go out and do something really crazy and awesome, like skateboarding while drinking a gallon of chocolate milk… or something.
The amount of excitement this music creates is unexplainable, it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the grandness of it all. If anybody disagrees then why don’t you make like a tree… and get out of here.
4. Rocky (1976)
Who doesn’t want to go on a ten mile run after hearing this theme? Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films always did at least one thing correctly every time, they knew how to pick the best music to get you hyped for the inevitably fight scene at the end of the movie. While the score of the original movie has its fair share of memorable tracks, it is still the film’s main theme “Gonna Fly Now” that most people remember best. The song was composed by Bill Conti with lyrics by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins, and performed by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford. If the gods of Greek mythology were real, this is the music they would enter the room with.
This music will also lead any underdog to believe that he can overcome any obstacle that’s in his way. Eddie Murphy even joked about this during his classic stand-up comedy special Raw. Murphy tells the tale of a guy who, having just heard the Rocky theme music, picks a fight with a guy damn near double his size and gets a box of Jujyfruits shoved where the sun don’t shine. So yes, this music may have you thinking your tougher than you actually are and we most certainly do not condone picking a fight immediately after listening to it.
3. Dr. No (1962)
If your life was a movie, this is the music you’d want for your theme song. It’s smooth and suave, it has an active party side to it and it all builds up to what is essentially musical adrenaline. The “James Bond Theme” is the main signature theme of the James Bond films and has been featured in every Eon Productions Bond film since Dr. No was released in 1962 to 2012‘s Skyfall.
Singer and film composer Monty Norman has been credited for writing the theme but there are so many kick-ass variations that the music has taken on a life of its own. It’s civilized and sophisticated but also kind of crazy and psychotic, just like we want our action stars. It’s the perfect music for doing bloodthirsty work but acting like not only does it mean nothing to you but you’re also having fun doing it. So whether it’s Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig; this is simply kick-ass music for a kick-ass character.
2. Mortal Kombat (1995)
It doesn’t matter what you think of the actual movie, you have to admit that Movie Kombat has one of the most ridiculously epic theme songs of all time! It’s the perfect music to get you pumped for excitement; after hearing it all you want to do is see people kicking, punching and ripping spinal cords out. If you’re a nonviolent person who only wants to live a peaceful life then do not listen to this music. You’ll be looking to fight the first person who looks at you wrong or cuts you off in traffic.
The theme was composed by Praga Khan and Oliver Adams and they really should have been given some sort of award for blessing the world with such kick-ass music. You could be doing anything, once this song comes on and you hear that guy scream MORTAL KOMBAT at the top of his lungs you’re almost forced to hurt somebody. Not only that but it also can make the most mundane tasks suddenly seem unbelievably epic. For instance; if you’ve been married for a long time and your sex life isn’t what it once was. Just put this music on during your next lovemaking session and thank us in the morning. You’re welcome.
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Da-dum, dum, da-dum… Da-dum, dum, da-dum. Question: Can a movie soundtrack get any more badass than this? Answer: No. No it can not. As much as we can all appreciate the music from the original Terminator it was the James Cameron and composer Brad Fiedel collaboration during its sequel a few years later that would take things up a few thousand notches.
If you listen to this music while eating a bowl of Apple Jacks, that cereal would suddenly seem like the most important thing in the world. It’s amazingly sad yet just as riveting as any action film score you’ll ever hear. The metallic screeches and the continuous beating and droning of the film’s main theme will stay with whoever hears it it for as long as they live. This music makes you feel like there are massively important things that need to be done in the world and you’re the one who needs to get them done. There is indeed no fate but what we make for ourselves.
Are there any other film scores you feel should have been added to this list? Let us know in the comment section below.