First we were happy to be done with Rocky after 1990’s Rocky V. Sixteen years later, we were happy that the Italian Stallion finally got the sendoff he deserved with Rocky Balboa. And then nine years after that, Rocky was back yet again with the 2015 blockbuster Creed. Now filming for Creed 2 is underway and we can’t wait to see the eighth installment of the Rocky franchise, which hits theaters November 21. Although the films seem to be on the right course, there’s no denying there has been some bumps on the way. And that also goes for all the soundtracks.
As much as we’d like to believe that the Rocky flicks are timeless classics, there are plenty of cringe-inducing moments throughout the series that just don’t cut it today — and many of those moments feature even worse music. But with seven soundtracks over forty years, there are also plenty of gems that we still rock today. Check out our choices below and let us know what Rocky tracks you still listen to when you’re chasing chickens or climbing mountains in Siberia.
“Pushin'” – Frank Stallone
Sly’s younger brother Frank sings on this track from the Rocky III soundtrack and while its disco beat was already stale in 1982, it does feature some killer horns and a badass keyboard solo.
“It’s A Fight” – Three 6 Mafia
The soundtrack for Rocky Balboa was mostly a collection of old songs but there was a contemporary original in the from of Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s a Fight.” And with lyrics like “We’ll beat you down, anybody wanna step up / Better say yo’ prayers, you gon’ get your face messed up,” it still fires us up more than a decade later.
“Hearts on Fire” – John Cafferty
Joe Esposito, who performed “You’re the Best” for the Karate Kid soundtrack, is credited as one of the songwriters on this track from Rocky IV which is performed by John Cafferty, who is best known for recording the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack. In other words, this song features ’80s movie soundtrack royalty and it shows. If this doesn’t transform you into a commie-killing machine before taking on a commie killing-machine, nothing will.
“I Wanna Rock” – Rob Base
While Rocky V was not one of the best films in the series — it ranks at or near the bottom for many — its soundtrack was pretty great. And with tracks from MC Hammer and eurodancers Snap!, we’re stressing that it was great as far as 1990 standards are concerned. But while those artists’ contributions haven’t aged well, Rob Base’s track is still remarkably fresh. And who doesn’t love that KC and the Sunshine Band sample?
“Lord Knows” – Meek Mill
Philly rap superstar Meek Mill killed it with “Lord Knows,” one of his two contributions to the Creed soundtrack. While his other track, “Check,” is also great, “Lord Knows” has that “never back down” spirit that makes it a true “Rocky” classic.
“The Sweetest Victory” – Touch
Duane Hitchings, who wrote the music for Rod Stewart’s 1981 hit “Young Turks,” is credited as a songwriter on this track from Rocky IV and it shows, as this is pure ’80s cheese. And we love it. Just listen to Touch vocalist Marq Torien, who would go on to lead BulletBoys, hold that last note for 30 seconds! How is this not the goto victory song for everything?
“Two Kinds Of Love” – Frank Stallone
Frank Stallone has performed plenty of tracks on his big brother’s soundtracks, and no doubt he got those chances by being family. But as this doo-wop track from Rocky II proves, that nepotism doesn’t mean that Frank does’t have the vocal chops to earn his place on the albums.
“Gonna Fly Now” – Bill Conti
Bill Conti’s brilliant theme from the first Rocky isn’t just a great “Rocky” track, it’s one of the most iconic songs of the ’70s. It’s been sampled and redone numerous times over the last 40-plus years, but nothing compares to the blaring horns and simple yet powerful vocals — the lyrics are just 30 words long — of the original. There’s probably just one other song that is so closely associated with Rocky Balboa…
“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor
Sylvester Stallone first approached Queen about using their “Another One Bites the Dust” as the theme for Rocky III. When Queen refused, Stallone approached Survivor about coming up with a song, after digging their “Poor Man’s Son”, and boy did they deliver! “Eye of the Tiger” held the number one spot for six weeks and was the number two song of the year, behind Olivia Newton John’s “Physical.”
“Living in America” – James Brown
James Brown’s Rocky IV track was so ‘Murican that it got Apollo Creed killed. Bad. Ass.