Soundtracks, Soundtracks, Soundtracks: The Best of Rocky

There are many things that make a movie what it is. It all starts with a story (according to what every How-To book on screenwriting tells us), there is the director and his crew, there are the actors, who bust their asses to bring a vision to life. Then comes the wonderful world of post-production. What is one result of that? The music. Soundtracks enhance the movie going experience. They can make us cry, they can pump us up, they can make us remember the 80's. Whether it be a musical band or a composer, soundtracks help our favorite movies stay etched in our mind forever. There's that handful of film franchises that reach that extra level of greatness thanks to the iconic music that is brought to the table. Throughout the years, the soundtracks for the Rocky franchise has done just that. From the brilliant composed work of Bill Conti and Vince DiCola, to the songs from bands like Survivor, John Cafferty, James Brown, Robert Tepper, Kenny Loggins, Gladys Night, Go West, and Three Six Mafia. A lot of the music has even transcended the films in the form of being covered and being featured on other programming. All the talent involved throughout the years has made each Rocky film a pleasure to behold every single viewing.


Right next to perhaps Eye of the Tiger, this Bill Conti theme is the most recognizable and iconic track of the bunch. This is the first track that gave us a glimpse into the hellacious preparations Rocky goes through to prepare for his battles, and who can forget the culmination of the whole thing with the run up those steps? ‘Gonna Fly Now’ made it to number one on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 list for a week, and has been given the honor of the AFI’s list 100 Years, 100 Songs at #58. I’m proud of the fact that the track is on my IPod for the one time a month I feel like going on a run, the best compliment I can give is Bill Conti made Rocky Balboa immortal with this track. Kudos go to DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford for their amazing vocals.


Within these two tracks, one is the track that out of all the music in all the films gets me the most pumped up. The Final Bell is the track that brings out the most emotion for me; behind ‘Mickey’ I would say. Rocky took Apollo to his absolute limit and gave it everything he had, and the music that followed that last battle says that he has plenty to be proud about. I mean every single time; the way that Rocky cries out for Adrian with this music in the background brings me to man tears…every time…I admit this shamelessly. Rocky showed us that victory ultimately comes in many different forms folks, Rocky was a victory on screen and off.


In recent memory, has there ever been a song with more inspirational lyrics? Not that I’ve heard. A couple of interesting notes here, one being the fact the song ended up being that this song was written at the request of Stallone himself when he couldn’t acquire the rights to feature Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’…completely different picture there. Also, according to the songs co-writer Jim Peterik in an interview with Soundfacts, the title of the song was a matter of debate. Due to a different set of lyrics to the songs hook, the title was almost to be dubbed ‘Survival’. Would have been fitting, but what the lyrics ultimately ended up being, along with the title made this track what it was.


I don’t think there has ever been a student and mentor relationship that has stirred up as many emotions like the one between Rocky Balboa and ‘Mick’. From Mickey’s initial reluctance to take Rocky on, to his desire to do so to make his life mean something special once more, to the training that allowed Rock to pull off what he did, to Mickey’s death. Everyone could use someone in their lives that will push them as much as Mick did for Rocky, and in doing so bring out the best in them. What Bill Conti did with this track was climb into Rocky’s heart to portray how much what Mickey has done for him has meant to him.


Burning Heart was the track that captured the spirit of Rocky IV in a nutshell. The lyrics to the song were inspired by the Cold War, the battle between the East and the West was portrayed in the feud between Rocky and the films villain Ivan Drago. The wonderful use of the Fender Stratocaster during the tracks ‘solos’ made for an ideal choice to feature this during a workout. The song was a monumental success earning impressive peak positions on numerous charts. Another notable appearance for Burning Heart was being featured in the final episode of HBO’s 24/7 documentary on the 2011 NHL Winter Classic. Not quite Eye of the Tiger, but an undeniable classic nonetheless.


In what I believe to be a tremendous mistake, this Training Montage track was not featured in the Best of Rocky compilation. Vince DiCola took over scoring duties from Bill Conti, who was busy with a previous commitment to the Karate Kid films (he returned for Rocky V and Rocky Balboa). As Conti’s works on the previous films were so legendary, DiCola had huge shoes to fill and he brought his A game and gave us memorable work of his own. Other tracks from DiCola from the Rocky IV track were titled “War/Fanfare from Rocky.” In 2008, Training Montage was covered by Finnish symphonic metal band Northern Kings on their album Dethroned.

Extra Tidbit: Any other tracks in the Rocky films you think deserve special mention?
Source: JoBlo



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