St. Vincent’s DeJamz


(Graphic by Max Kleiner / The DePaulia)

The summertime is known for lots of things, but few more iconic than the movie blockbuster. Audiences flock to the theaters to escape the heat and watch the loudest, most exciting, popcorn-munching-inducing movies of the year. Some legendary summer blockbusters include “Jaws,” “E.T.,” “Alien,” “The Dark Knight,” “Rambo” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” among others. 

Yet what makes these movies so iconic is often not the action or the plot, but the music. Think of any major franchise or iconic blockbuster, and you’ll probably have a theme in mind. The music is what takes them to brand new levels. The epic scores make monsters more otherworldly, and the triumphant theme song of an action hero relieves the audience as they come to save the day. Here are a few of my favorite blockbuster movie scores of all time. 

Godzilla Theme – Akira Ifukube

1954’s “Godzilla,” an allegory for the anxieties of a post-nuclear bomb Japan, has one of the greatest theme songs ever put to film. The triumphant song plays as Godzilla attacks Tokyo, in what is supposed to represent an atom bomb going off in slow motion. The song was actually not meant to be the monster’s theme — instead it was meant to be the song of the Japanese Self Defense Forces who come to battle Godzilla. Yet fans and the executives at Toho couldn’t separate the score from the iconic monster and it stuck. 

Jaws Main Theme – John Williams

The main theme of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film is the most famous score in Hollywood history. Constantly parodied, the song that played when the shark attacked is the pinnacle of suspense. Tommy Johnson, who played the tuba in the song, according to the BBC, asked John Williams why he didn’t go with the more appropriate French horn, to which Williams responded saying he wanted a more “threatening” sound. 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Main Title – Ennio Morricone

The classic score from Segio Leone’s western classic “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is the most famous of Italian composer Ennio Morricone’s vast body of work. The percussion opens the song, until a sound like the howl of a coyote comes in, which complements the guitar skills of collaborator Bruno Battisti D’Amario. “The Ecstasy of Gold” might be the most recognizable song from the film, but the main title music holds massive significance in the history of film. 

Main Title (Escape from New York) – John Carpenter

John Carpenter, one of Hollywood’s best and only director-composers, might be known best for “Halloween,” but his score for “Escape from New York” is what I’d rather highlight here. Carpenter’s minimalist style helped push the eerie, campy vibe of the film. It’s the only music that would work for a movie about a world where the President crashes into the Island of Manhattan, which is now a maximum security prison. 

Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins and Giorgio Moroder

Created for 1986’s “Top Gun,” “Danger Zone” is one of the tightest connections between a song and a movie. After testing out 300 different songs, the producers got Giorgio Moroder, along with songwriter Tom Whitlock (who also wrote “Take My Breath Away,” the movie’s other recurring song) to create a song, which provided the sound and lyrics for “Danger Zone.” Originally, Toto was supposed to perform the songs, but legal conflicts lead to Kenny Loggins taking the song, and the rest is history.