Music can make or break a movie, and a well-curated soundtrack can make a film go down in history.

Here is my list of the 10 most iconic movie songs of all time, originating from sci-fi films, indie movies, family films, and beyond!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Thus Spoke Zarathustra

First on the list is the epic opening song of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Composed by Strauss, Thus Spoke Zarathustra captures the grandeur of humanity’s evolution from apes to explorers of space.

In a parodic nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Greta Gerwig also used Thus Spoke Zarathustra in the opening scene of her 2023 film, Barbie. Here, bone-wielding apes are replaced by a giant Barbie and young girls smashing their baby dolls to pieces.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) – Navras by Juno Reactor

Returning to sci-fi, the soundtracks of The Matrix movies are legendary. The films feature multiple songs by the band Juno Reactor, one of the best electronic music acts of all time.

A highlight is the song Navras by Juno Reactor, used in The Matrix Revolutions. Navras’ ominous bassline and dramatic, operatic vocals are a perfect accompaniment to the movie’s action scenes.

Check out Juno Reactor in The Matrix Reloaded as well as their other songs used in The Matrix Revolutions!

American Honey (2016) – God’s Whisper by Raury

Indie movies are often celebrated for their soundtracks, and American Honey doesn’t disappoint. Quality tracks like No Type by Rae Sremmurd, God’s Whisper by Raury, and 8896 by Låpsley capture the highs and lows of a group of young, disillusioned adults as they road trip across the USA.

God’s Whisper by Raury, an audience favourite, plays at the end of American Honey as the youngsters revel around a campfire. Despite life’s hardships, they have each other and hope—captured perfectly by Raury’s song.

Sunshine (2007) – Adagio in D Minor & Capa Meets the Sun

Sunshine received mixed reviews for merging sci-fi with slash horror, but one thing is for certain: the movie struck a chord for its stunning visuals and symbolic use of sound.

The orchestral piece linked above, Adagio in D Minor, is a highlight of the film’s score. It conveys the breathtaking grandeur and emotional gravity of the protagonists’ fateful space mission.

Another iconic song is Capa Meets the Sun (To Heal) by Underworld, played at the very end of Sunshine. The track’s radiant, healing energy matches the film’s overall message that following a higher purpose in life leads to a peaceful and beautiful death.

The Beach (2000) – Porcelain by Moby

In The Beach, an indie thriller by Danny Boyle (director of Sunshine), the uplifting songs 8 Ball by Underworld and Porcelain by Moby underscore the happiness and togetherness found by a backpacker in a Thailand commune.

Other highlights of The Beach’s soundtrack include the Britpop kings Blur, the 80s giants New Order, and the dance track Woozy by Faithless.

Trainspotting (1996) – Born Slippy by Underworld

A list of the most iconic movie songs wouldn’t be complete without Underworld’s dance track Born Slippy. It features in the soundtrack of Danny Boyle’s 1996 film, Trainspotting, which deals with the hard-hitting ups and downs of working-class party animals in Scotland.

Following the global success of Trainspotting, Born Slippy became one of the most popular songs of the late 90s-00s electronic music scene, and DJs still play it to this day.

Fight Club (1999) – Where Is My Mind? by Pixies

Fight Club features on many people’s lists of their favourite movies of all time. The film wouldn’t be what it is without its mind-blowing ending featuring Pixies’ Where Is My Mind?, where the protagonist couple hold hands and watch in awe as their city implodes.

Shrek (2001) – I’m a Believer by Smash Mouth

The first Shrek movie sparked a global sensation for its inventive story, receiving several award nominations for its soundtrack. The mixture of rock, quirky pop, and hit ballads was unusual for a family film and enhanced the story’s appeal across generations of viewers. 

One of the standout Shrek songs is I’m a Believer by Smash Mouth, played at the end of the first film. The fairytale creatures dance, Donkey sings the karaoke, and Shrek and Fiona depart in an onion carriage in a playfully iconic end to the tale.

The Intouchables (2011) – September by Earth, Wind & Fire

With a record IMDb score of 8.5 out of 10, The Intouchables touched the world with its heart-warming portrayal of a stern, quadriplegic millionaire and his fun-loving assistant, Driss.

One of the most memorable scenes of the movie is that in which Driss interrupts a stale orchestra to dance for his boss to September by Earth, Wind & Fire. Driss even encourages the dignitaries to join him on the dancefloor, finally bringing a smile to his employer’s face.

Harry Potter (2001-2011) – Hewdig’s Theme

Lastly, tribute has to be paid to the theme song of Harry Potter, used in all eight of the famous films. The tune is magical, mysterious, and dramatic—the perfect accompaniment to witches’ and wizards’ adventures in Hogwarts and beyond.

…And that’s Tbreak’s take on the most iconic movie songs of all time. Do you agree or have any additions? Tell us in the comments section below.

Abbas Jaffar Ali
Abbas Jaffar Ali

Abbas has been covering tech for more than two decades- before phones became smart or clouds stored data. He brought publications like CNET, TechRadar and IGN to the Middle East.


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