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SF/F Music in the Mainstream

Here’sa group of songs that are particularly well known from their films. You might hear them on the radio, and when you do, you’re pretty sure you know what movie they’re from, right off the bat. A lot of the top blockbusters are released with two soundtracks: the musical score, and then the soundtrack which typically has songs that are plugged for the ending credits.

Here’s a few science fiction-related and fantasy-related songs that fit this catgeory…

“Hero” by Chad Kroeger and Josie Scott

I remember this song all over the place when Spider-man came out in theaters. I’m not a huge fan of Nickelback, but this song has a certain nostalgic feel to it that makes it okay. Plus, Spider-man.

“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.

If there’s any song that’s really iconic from the films, it would be Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” for the film of the same name. I was aware of the song long before I watched the movie.

“Men In Black” by Will Smith

Another one that I remember from my childhood, and a song that I heard long before I saw Men in Black, coming at the time when Will Smith was making the transition from rapper to actor.

“Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” by Will Smith ft. TRÂ-Knox

We might as well throw this one in there, although I don’t remember hearing it as much.

“I See You” by Leona Lewis

James Cameron’s last major romance, Titanic, spawned a massive hit in Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, which was on the top of the charts for a while. Avatar did pretty well at the box office, and it’s easy to see the thinking behind this sort of song: it’s similar in a lot of ways, although it didn’t have the same impact as its film did.

“Mad World” by Michael Andrews

This song has hit newfound popularity after it was used in a film: I first heard it in a trailer for a video game, Black, and since then, it’s popped up in a number of other places.

“Blow Me Away” by Breaking Benjamin

We’re going to break away from films for a moment and go over to video games: “Blow Me Away” was used in the soundtrack for Halo 2, and for my money, it fits the game rather nicely.

“Rejoice In The Sun” by Joan Baez

The oldest song that I’ve found for a science fiction film, “Rejoice in the Sun” harkens back to 1972, and was in the film Silent Running. Baez’s own environmentalism streak fits nicely with this film that’s concerned with the state of the environment (or what’s left of it.)

“Back in Time” by Huey Lewis and the News

“Back in Time” from 80s band Huey Lewis and the News means that this could come from only one movie: Back to the Future. This is another one that received radio airplay, and it’s certainly catchy.

“I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith

Every time I heard this song, I turned the radio off. It’s an annoying song from an annoying movie. Aerosmith has several connections to the film Armageddon, as lead singer Steven Tyler’s daughter, Liv Tyler, had a starring role in this film.

“Flash” by Queen

One of Queen’s memorable songs, the theme to the film Flash is a fun, over-the-top affair. I’ve yet to see the movie, but I’ve heard that it fits well.

“Batdance” by Prince

Dancing Batmans and Jokers from the official music video? This is certainly an odd one.

“Ordinary” by Train

The lead single off of the Spider-man 2 soundtrack, this track taps into the essence of Peter Parker and his character growth over the course of this film: his desire to be ordinary. It’s catchy alt-rock.

“Down to Earth” by Peter Gabriel

The film Wall*E had some fantastic songs in it, and Peter Gabriel’s “Down to Earth” is a great song that closes out the credits of the film, right after the wayward humans return to their home planet.

“May It Be” by Enya

Enya isn’t really an artist that gets wide-spread radio-play, but she was a perfect choice for a song in Lord of the Rings. Some of her music has been inspired by Tolkien’s epic, and she has a wonderful, ethereal voice that makes this song great.

“Over My Head” by Lit

“Over My Head” is one of my favorite songs off of the Titan A.E. soundtrack, which holds a particular nostalgic place for me. This song doesn’t really have a lot to do with the film, aside from the broad themes, but it fits with the film nicely.

“Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars

The Hunger Games seems to be the next big movie, and accordingly, there’s been a soundtrack and a score released. Leading the pack is “Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift as the lead single. It’s been incredibly popular since its release in December.

Finally, for your convenience — all songs in a single YouTube Playlist

About Andrew Liptak (180 Articles)
Andrew Liptak is a freelance writer and historian from Vermont. He is a 2014 graduate of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and has written for such places as Armchair General, io9, Kirkus Reviews, Lightspeed Magazine, and others. His first book, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction is now out from Apex Publications, and his next, The Future Machine: The Writers, Editors and Readers who Build Science Fiction is forthcoming from Jurassic London in 2015. He can be found over at and at @AndrewLiptak on Twitter.

1 Comment on SF/F Music in the Mainstream

  1. I guess it’s not in the “mainstream” but how about Queen’s Princes of the Universe, from The Highlander?

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