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A Look at Love Songs from the Movies

For Valentine’s Day weekend, today’s episode of Sounds of Cinema featured love songs from the movies. Popular music has been a reliable way for moviemakers to drum up interest in their films, especially during the height of the soundtrack album in the 1980 and 90s. Here is a look at some of the songs featured on today’s show as well as a few additional tunes.

“Up Where We Belong”

“Up Where We Belong” was written by Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Will Jennings for the 1982 motion picture An Officer and a Gentleman. The song was performed by Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker and although the song was a hit, Cocker experienced some negative side effects from its success. He had built his career on soul and blues and this pop song brought him mainstream attention for fans a genre who probably weren’t interested in Cocker’s other work.

Dirty Dancing

The music of Dirty Dancing is one of the most popular soundtrack albums ever released. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack spent eighteen weeks at number one on the Billboard chart and went Platinum eleven times over. The album mixed period music of the 1950s and 60s with pop songs of the 1980s including “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes” as well as “She’s Like the Wind” which is performed by the movie’s male lead Patrick Swayze. “She’s Like the Wind” was written by Patrick Swayze and Stacy Widelitz for the 1984 film Grandview, U.S.A. It wasn’t used and Swayze suggested the song to Dirty Dancing’s producers. They used it and “She’s Like the Wind” became a hit that continues to get airplay.

“Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing was a 1955 drama about a white American reporter stationed in Hong Kong where he falls in love with a Eurasian doctor and they encounter prejudice from her family and from Hong Kong society. The title song from Love is a Many-Splendored Thing was one of the first songs written for a movie to become a major success on the music charts. “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” was subsequently covered by many artists including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Jerry Vale.

“I Will Always Love You”

1991’s The Bodyguard starred Whitney Houston as a pop artist and Kevin Costner as the titular guardian. Houston provided the music and the soundtrack from The Bodyguard is still the best-selling soundtrack album of all time as well as the best-selling album by a female singer. The signature song from The Bodyguard was “I Will Always Love You” which remains the best-selling single by a female artist. “I Will Always Love You” was actually a cover of a Dolly Parton song. Parton had released “I Will Always Love You” as a single in 1982 and later rerecorded it for the soundtrack to Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

“Only a Woman”

2004’s Team America: World Police was a parody of Hollywood action movies especially those produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and produced by Michael Bay. It also featured some original songs that satirized the romantic power ballads that were often heard in movies of the 1990s.


“Falling Slowly” is the signature song from the 2006 film Once. The movie is a love story between two musicians played by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and the music expresses the characters’ feelings for each other. Once has since been adapted into a stage musical.

“Mystery of Love”

“Mystery of Love” was written and performed by Sufjan Stevens for the 2017 film Call Me By Your Name. Stevens also contributed the songs “Futile Devices” and “Visions of Gideon” to Call Me By Your Name and his unique sound was distinctly different from the ballads usually associated with Hollywood romances. The delicate sound of the music matched the tone of the film.

“In Your Eyes”

The signature image from Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy Say Anything is the lovelorn teenage protagonist played by John Cusack standing across the street from his would-be girlfriend’s house and blaring “In Your Eyes” from a boombox. That scene has been frequently imitated and parodied. 

“Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

Disney’s animated features were renowned for their music and the songs were an important part of the Disney renaissance that occurred in the 1990s. Elton John and Tim Rice contributed the songs to 1994’s The Lion King and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” was a massive hit. The song reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” was certified Platinum.


Tie-in songs were once a cornerstone of a movie’s promotional campaign but that has faded in recent years. “Shallow” was key to the success of 2018’s A Star is Born. Performed by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, “Shallow” was featured prominently in the trailers and the song got a lot of radio airplay. “Shallow” became an enormous success, going quadruple platinum.  

“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”

The Bryan Adams song “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” was created in conjunction with 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The song was written by Adams with Robert “Mutt” Lange and the film’s composer Michael Kamen. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was primarily an action picture with a slight romantic subplot but the song emphasized the love story and it was a huge hit and Bryan Adams’ most successful song.

“Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”

One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” which he recorded for the 1961 film Blue Hawaii. The music was adapted from a popular eighteenth-century French love song that’s written from the point of view of a woman. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was certified Platinum and it’s one of the most popular songs to play at weddings.

“Come What May”

“Come What May” was written by David Baerwald and Kevin Gilbert. The song was originally intended for Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The song was shelved and Luhrmann used it in his next movie, 2001’s Moulin Rouge! That film had two very popular soundtrack albums featuring songs from the movie. Both albums include “Come What May” but the second soundtrack collection featured the version heard in the movie.

“It Must Have Been Love”

“It Must Have Been Love” is most popularly associated with Pretty Woman. However, the song was originally released in 1987 and that version made reference to heartbreak at Christmastime. A different version of “It Must Have Been Love” without the holiday references was used in 1990’s Pretty Woman. It song took off after that, spending two weeks at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list and Billboard listed “It Must Have Been Love” as the second most successful single of 1990.

“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”

“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was a power balled featured in Michael Bay’s 1998 disaster film Armageddon. The song was written by Diane Warren and performed by Aerosmith and it was the band’s only single to hit number one in the United States. This is probably the song Trey Parker had in mind while working on the soundtrack to Team America: World Police.