With Rihanna contributing “Life Me Up” to the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, the song garnered almost as much attention as the film itself. Indeed, there have been times when a movie’s theme song takes on a life of its own and eclipses the movie in popularity.
In some of these cases, the song belongs to a movie that failed to find much of an audience, like Once, but the song managed to emerge from obscurity. Other songs belonged to blockbuster movies, like Rocky III, but over time they became more well-known. Although rare, it is interesting to listen to these themes of films that have passed the films.
Slowly Falling – Once (2006)
Once is a charming indie film that follows two amateur musicians who make a connection and start making music together. For such a small movie, Once managed to find a decent audience, but that was helped a lot by the song “Falling Slowly.”
Although the film has remained a small favorite among fans, Redditor Sane333 finds the song “took on a life of its own.” In fact, since the song won an Oscar, it likely led people to find out about the movie rather than the other way around.
Can’t Help Falling in Love – Blue Hawaii (1961)
With the biopic’s recent success, fans might re-watch some of Elvis Presley’s best films. But while he was a superstar musician, Presley’s acting career has never been more acclaimed. This includes the movie Blue Hawaii where he plays a musical guide, which led him to sing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” for the first time.
A Redditor points out that few fans likely realize the popular song “started in Elvis’ nerdy Hawaiian movie.” It’s a perfect example of the difference between his film career and his music career, as Blue Hawaii is largely forgotten while “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is one of his most iconic songs.
Unchained Melody – Unchained (1955)
There are probably few people who remember the movie Unchained, but it gave the world one of the most covered songs of all time. The neglected crime film follows a convict who struggles between completing his sentence or attempting an escape.
Although quite unexpectedly given the story, the film featured the popular romantic song “Unchained Melody.” Redditor great_auks admits the song didn’t get much notice in a movie “that hardly anyone has ever seen.” It also shows how important the use of a song is in the film. When the Righteous Brothers’ cover of “Unchained Melody” was used in Ghost, the song found new life.
Iris – City of Angels (1998)
City of Angels is the story of an angel who descends to Earth to help bring the recently deceased to heaven but ends up falling in love with a human woman. Despite the high concept and stars like Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, the film is best known for the song “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls.
A Redditor admits of the film that he “never even heard of it and I consider ‘Iris’ a classic.” Interestingly, the film failed to get people too involved in its love story, but the song managed to become an essential 1990s love song.
We’ve Got All The Time In The World – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
While some of the James Bond theme songs are more popular than others, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service includes a song that is not the official theme song for the film but still tops the film itself with “We Have All the Time in the World by Louis Armstrong.
Redditor MrTidels claims that “it wasn’t until I watched all the Bond movies two years ago” that they realized this was the origin of the song. Appropriately, after being used to mark the death of Tracy Bond. the song was repurposed for No Time to Die for another sad death in the James Bond franchise.
Lux Aeterna – Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream is a heartbreaking look at the connected lives of many people who see their dreams and futures destroyed by their drug addiction. It all leads to some of the saddest movie endings that fans refuse to see again accompanied by the haunting “Lux Aeterna” theme music.
Redditor FlerblesMerbles points out that people “probably don’t know where ‘that epic trailer song’ came from, as it’s been used in countless trailers since then. Even with the film’s praise, fans might associate it with other films given its frequent inclusion in trailers.
Theme from Love Story – Love Story (1970)
Love Story is a puzzling example of a movie that was so successful initially only to fade from memory over time. It tells the story of a young couple from different backgrounds who pursue a romance only for tragedy to strike.
Despite being a massive box office hit and being nominated for Best Picture, Redditor faust06 insists Love Story is “largely forgotten at this point.” However, its only Oscar win was for its theme music which remains recognizable to this day. It’s hard to say why this is the only aspect of the film that was able to remain while the rest was forgotten.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door – Pat Garret and Billy The Kid (1973)
Bob Dylan only starred in a handful of films throughout his career and never made a splash as an actor. However, like Elvis Presley, sometimes bringing his own musical talents to the film helped him gain some recognition. In the western Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, Dylan performed the song “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”.
While Redditor EersteDivisie admits they’re “not sure how many people have even heard of this movie today”, the song remains one of Dylan’s most popular. Considering the film is a pulpy western while the song is a thoughtful, powerful melody, it’s not too surprising which one stood out the most.
Tiger’s Eye – Rocky III (1982)
While the original Rocky’s score matched the film’s iconic status, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” song for the third film was perhaps too catchy. Although the first film is an underdog story, Rocky III finds the boxer defeated by fame and facing a hungry new challenger.
Redditor poptophazard insists that “most people can hum or sing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ more than they can describe the plot of Rocky III.” Admittedly, this sequel isn’t as memorable as some of the other installments while “Eye of the Tiger” sticks in people’s heads almost immediately.
Main Theme – Chariots of Fire (1981)
As Redditor JohnTequilaWoo points out, “even though it won Best Picture,” not many people can say they’ve watched Chariots of Fire. The film tells the story of two track and field athletes from different backgrounds who seek to win at the 1924 Olympics.
There’s probably one image from the movie that fans will recognize with the characters running in slow motion on the beach. But that’s likely due to the use of iconic music that was used endlessly to parody such moments and seeped into pop culture in ways the film never did.