Does Rocky IV Have the Best Soundtrack of the 1980s?

For reasons previously known only to me and my hair stylist, recently I’ve been listening to the Rocky IV soundtrack a bit. I think it’s the best soundtrack* of the 1980s.

Perhaps it’s that I’m jogging again. Perhaps it’s that I love the character of Rocky Balboa and those movies provide a salve when you feel like you need to pick yourself up after a stumble.

I’ve shared my opinions on the movie Rocky IV in various forums, but especially on Words With Nerds. In short: it’s the world’s longest music video montage. In a sense, as it nearly devolves into a dialogue-less DaDa-esque dreamscape for the majority of the film, you could plausibly argue it’s actually a genius abstract work.

Regardless, I love it. I mean, there’s only one Rocky movie we should all ignore, and not just because that one was my last date with my first serious high school girlfriend. Later, in college, a relationship ended after I saw In the Mouth of Madness with a girlfriend. These two stories may explain why I stopped going to movies on dates.

rocky balboa slugs drago the russian named drago in rocky iv i'm mocking seo repetitive text with rocky iv
Fun fact: Sylvester Stallone is 7 feet tall. This is all camera tricks like the Lord of the Rings movies.

That Soundtrack Tho

While not every song is terrific, you have one heckuva time capsule/inspirational mix. You also have…interesting…pieces like “One Way Street,” which is a classic distillation of 80’s…romantic (?)…popular (?)…music.

But setting aside the misfires, you get gems like “Eye of the Tiger,” “Hearts on Fire,” “Burning Heart,” “No Easy Way Out,” and even James Brown’s amazing “Living in America”! And if you don’t get choked up during “Man Against the World,” you’re a monster. (Then again, I’ve discovered that some people see me as a monster, so maybe these aren’t mutually exclusive things.)

Though Vince DiCola’s work is evocative of his work on The Transformers: The Movie (read: “interchangeable with”), tracks like “Training Montage” and his reinterpretation of the Fanfare is great. It’s very “of the time” but it’s great.

In short, there’s a lot to love. While I’m not ready to vault this to the top position of “Greatest of All Time,” as that would necessitate overlooking the incredible soundtracks** for Tarantino’s ouevre and Paul Thomas Anderson’s sublime choices for Boogie Nights and Magnolia, or George Lucas’ amazing snapshot of time with American Graffiti, Rocky IV‘s soundtrack is certainly top spot for the 1980s.

Don’t you agree?

* Important note: I’m not talking about film scores, but rather soundtracks – the released compilations that have long been tied to movie marketing. This is a very important distinction as discussing film scores might cause my brain to short circuit if I had to make a decision.

** I know that these directors also had music supervisors who worked with them for the construction of their soundtracks and I am not diminishing their contribution. But were I to attach those names, most people would think I’d gone insane† and listed the wrong directors.

† Most people think I am already, so feel free to substitute “more insane.”

2 thoughts on “Does Rocky IV Have the Best Soundtrack of the 1980s?

  1. I put on the kesseljunkie Guardians of the Headband playlist the other day (which includes Training Montage among others) and ended up cleaning out my entire garage. I’d say it’s motivating music.

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