Whether it’s in the gym or at our cubicle, Rocky has been inspiring all of us to take it to the max since 1976. And a big part of the underdog boxer’s success is the many great songs that have been featured on the Rocky movie soundtracks.
Before you catch IFC’s Rocky movie marathon, raise your fists high with 10 rousing songs that inspire the fighter in all of us.
10. “Keep it Up,” Snap! (Rocky V)
You’re forgiven if you don’t remember the Rocky V soundtrack, which featured a forgettable MC Hammer track (“That’s What I Said“) where the parachute-pants wearing rapper basically repeats “Hammertime!” and “Can’t Touch This” over a lackluster beat. But if you’re looking for a solid early ’90s workout jam, you could do worse than “Keep It Up” from the Eurodance outfit Snap!. Sure, it’s pretty much a carbon copy of their far superior hit “The Power,” but this is Rocky V we’re talking about. “Passable” should be one of its IMDB keywords.
9. “Last Breath,” Future (Creed)
The 2015 hit Creed carried the Rocky soundtrack torch proudly, offering up a healthy mix of rousing hip-hop and R&B. “Last Breath,” from frequent Drake collaborate Future, lifts elements of Bill Conti’s iconic Rocky theme to create a propulsive hip hop track that, like the film it comes from, pays tribute to past greats while also sounding like the (pun ahead!) future.
8. “Double or Nothing,” Kenny Loggins and Gladys Knight (Rocky IV)
’80s soundtrack king Kenny “Footloose” Loggins teamed up with Gladys Knight for this catchy midtempo number. On the scale of Loggins soundtrack hits, this one is no “Danger Zone.” It’s not even “Nobody’s Fool” from Caddyshack II. But it’ll still get the job done when you’re going double or nothing on the treadmill.
7. “Hearts on Fire,” John Cafferty (Rocky IV)
Stallone was such a fan of John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band (yes, that’s a real band), he used one of their songs in his 1986 actioner Cobra. Cafferty went solo for this synth-tastic Rocky IV track, which was cowritten by composer Vince Dicola. If ’80s synths are your jam, look no further.
6. “It’s a Fight,” Three 6 Mafia (Rocky Balboa)
The Rocky Balboa soundtrack featured music highlights from every Rocky soundtrack and a new song from rap group Three 6 Mafia. While it didn’t win an Oscar like the group’s hit “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp,” this track still gets the blood pumping. Too bad though. We would’ve liked to see Three 6 Mafia give an Oscar shout-out to ol’ Rocky.
5. “Lord Knows,” Meek Mill (Creed)
Another gem from the Creed soundtrack, this Meek Mill track was the perfect musical accompaniment to Adonis’ upward climb. In fact, the entire soundtrack is pretty great. Check out “Grip” from Creed star Tessa Thompson for a relaxing cool down after you’ve gone several rounds in the ring or in rush hour traffic.
4. “Burning Heart,” Survivor (Rocky IV)
Yes, there was another epic Survivor track on the Rocky IV soundtrack. The “Eye of the Tiger” band scored a #2 Billboard hit with this ’80s power ballad gem. Nothing sums up the Cold War climate of 1985 better than lines like “Is it East Vs. West?” and “Can any nation stand alooooone!.” And nothing says 1985 more than lead singer Jimi Jamison’s flowing locks and the keyboardist’s giant glasses and puffy shirt.
3. “Living in America,” James Brown (Rocky IV)
The Godfather of Soul’s hit perfectly sums up Rocky IV‘s mix of patriotism and over-the-top action. Watch the video and try not start dancing. It’s so fun, it almost makes us forget Paulie’s robot. Almost.
2. “Gonna Fly Now,” Bill Conti (Rocky)
Conti’s triumphant Rocky theme was an instant hit, climbing the Billboard charts in 1977 despite being mostly instrumental. (Fun fact: DeEtta Little, the sister of Blazing Saddles star Cleavon Little, sang the iconic lyrics with Nelson Pigford.)
1. “Eye of the Tiger,” Survivor (Rocky III)
This Rocky III hit has become shorthand for keeping your eye on the prize, whether that prize is defeating Mr. T in the ring or scoring the last pastry in the office break room.