The 20 Soundtracks That Defined The 1980s

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    img.album {            opacity:0.8;            filter:alpha(opacity=80); /* For IE8 and earlier */    }    img.album:hover {        opacity:1.0;        filter:alpha(opacity=100); /* For IE8 and earlier */    }    a.header {        font-family: "Fjalla One";        color:#ababab;        font-size:28px;        line-height:30px;        text-decoration:none;    }    a.header:hover {        font-family: "Fjalla One";        color:#333333;        font-size:28px;        line-height:30px;        text-decoration:none;    }[1960s](/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-60s) [1970s](/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-70s) 1980s [1990s](/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-90s) [2000s](/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-00s) [2010s](/features/2010s-soundtracks-reader-choices) ![]( *Select an album to hear samples and to find out why it made our list.* ![]( [![Aliens](]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p2%29 [![The Blues Brothers]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p3%29 [![The Untouchables]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p4%29 [![Top Gun]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p5%29 [![Back To The Future]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p6%29 ![]%28 [![Batman]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p7%29 [![Chariots Of Fire]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p8%29 [![Blade Runner]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p9%29 [![E.T.]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p10%29 [![Raiders Of The Lost Ark]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p11%29 ![]%28 [![The Mission]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p12%29 [![Out Of Africa]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p13%29 [![Purple Rain]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p14%29 [![Local Hero]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p15%29 [![Beetlejuice]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p16%29 ![]%28 [![Paris, Texas]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p17%29 [![Pretty In Pink]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p18%29 [![Beverly Hills Cop]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p19%29 [![Escape From New York]%28]%28/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p20%29 [![Dirty Dancing](](/features/decade-defining-soundtracks-80s/p21) ![]( 

Composer: James Horner
For a score that James Horner bashed out unhappily in six weeks, the music for James Cameron’s Aliens is a revelation. From the banshee wail of the Main Title, the soundtrack takes us on a journey of thundering timpani, martial percussion and plaintive horn sections, encapsulating the eerie, alien menace of H.R. Giger’s creation. It marches to the military motifs of the platoon movie Aliens ultimately becomes. For all Horner’s agonies, he bagged his first Oscar nomination and laid out one of cinema’s stalwart reference soundtracks. The Aliens score – and the Bishop’s Countdown track in particular – has become the go-to cue to teeing up tension, gracing the trailers for no less than 24 different movies, from Minority Report to Misery and even The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Back to the menu

The Blues Brothers
Composer: Various Artists
For a film based on Saturday Night Live sketch characters, the music of The Blues Brothers was a huge sensation. “It was sort of a unique situation where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd exploited their own celebrity at that moment to focus attention on these great performers and great acts,” recalled director John Landis. “And that was very successful.” With legendary musicians such as John Lee Hooker, Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and James Brown, the soundtrack was massive, introducing a whole new audience to classic rhythm and blues. Trivia note: The Blues Brothers’ name was suggested by Lord Of The Rings composer Howard Shore, who played in the first sketch to feature Jake and Ellwood. Back to the menu

The Untouchables
Composer: Ennio Morricone
For his 1987 tale of gangsters and gun fights, Brian De Palma turned to Ennio Morricone for a fusion of the Western style the composer brought to the Man With No Name trilogy and the dark Chicago jazz demanded by a movie about Eliot Ness and Al Capone. Cue wailing sax and moody piano. Though the music sounds like it belongs in the era, it also has somewhat of an