In partnership with Square Enix
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has not one, not two, but three separate musical scores. One is an orchestral suite recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, one is an original album by a specially created 1980s ‘space metal’ band named, un-coincidentally, Star-Lord, and one is something that will be familiar to fans of Star-Lord the space pilot, as it’s one of his winning mix tapes packed with 1980s bangers. Here are some of the highlights.
Holding Out for a Hero, Bonnie Tyler
The 1984 movie Footloose concerned a small town where dancing was banned. Happily for us, belting out power ballads has and will always be fair game in Neath, South Wales, from whence warlock-voiced power-belter Bonnie Tyler came, allowing her to record this track for the aforementioned movie. This particular track was a collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman, the man who cooked Meat Loaf’s beef on the seminal ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ album, on which this uber-bombastic track would happily sit.
Best for when: you’re heading into a rescue mission.
A Flock of Seagulls, I Ran
A chart topper in Australia and Top 10 in New Zealand and the USA, cloth-eared Brits somehow slept on this 1982 single from Liverpudlian new wavers A Flock Of Seagulls, possibly because they were instead busily pointing and laughing at the band’s haircuts, which looked like an installation in a sculpture garden. We missed out – this is the kind of driving, pulsing, self-important synth pop that The Killers got filthy rich making 20 years later.
Best for when: you are literally running away, duh.
New Kids on the Block, Hanging Tough
Sure, New Kids On The Block weren’t technically the first boyband, but they were the one that cut the template for the boyband badboy thanks to their low-slung baggy jeans, Boston accents and the fact that one of them had a hard brother who wasn’t in the band (Donny Wahlberg’s brother Marky Mark, leader of the Funky Bunch). Without New Kids, no East 17, no 5ive, no One Direction and thus no ‘Watermelon Sugar’. While subsequent songs showed their soppy sides, their swaggering debut Hanging Tough is as macho as a towel-whip in the locker rooms.
Best for when: you and the crew are heading in as a unit.
KISS, I Love It Loud
From the facepaint to the costumes, the stack heels, the fire and the flailing tongue of Gene ‘The Demon’ Simmons, there is nothing subtle about KISS, and thus their song ‘I Love It Loud’ relates to anything you might think of: rock music, sex, engines, restaurants, shirts. Most notable about ‘I Love It Loud’ is the earth-shattering drumwork of incoming member Eric Carr (replacing Peter ‘The Cat’ Kriss with a mask that’s a… fox? Answers on a postcard. Psychedelic post-punk icon Julian Cope once described the intro as a “J. Bonham-as-Thor drum fundament”. Wrong Marvel franchise, but you get the idea.
Best for when: you’re taking on a giant-sized foe, and you need the strength of the gods behind you.
Tears for Fears, Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Underrated and quintessential 1980s pop duo Tears For Fears found a special kind of magic on their 1985 album ‘Songs From The Big Chair’, on which the rabble-rousing ‘Shout’ (later covered by Dizzee Rascal and, er, James Corden) and ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ can be found. Thanks to them being the kind of studio-bound sonic architects who thrived in the 80s, this song somehow sounds like it’s echoing back from a black hole, and its charged lyrics – which earned it a BBC ban – concern galactic problems of power, corruption and war.
Best for when: you’re taking on the establishment.
Iron Maiden, Where Eagles Dare
The British heavy metal legends have frequently looked to war for inspiration, and so it is with bassist Steve Harris’s 1983 head-banging-approved composition Where Eagles Dare – it’s directly inspired by the book and Clint Eastwood film of the same name. Its lyrics about military aircraft (”It’s snowing outside, the rumbling sound of engines roar in the night…”) must have struck a (power) chord with singer Bruce Dickinson – he later qualified as a pilot, and flies commercially when not touring with the world’s most professional metal band.
Best for when: you’re attacking from above.
Twisted Sister We’re Not Gonna Take it
This sneering hair metal call-to-arms has become something of a vexed track in recent years, as it’s become an anthem for right-wing fringe groups, anti-maskers and a certain former POTUS. So there’s a quandary for many: do you try to dislike a song for its latter day associations or do you admire this masterwork of snot-rock for its one-size-fits-all anti-something message? You decide!
Best for when: you’re storming into a situation with righteous indignation.
Joan Jett, Bad Reputation
The fizzy, fuzzy rush of Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’, title track of her 1980 solo debut, became the calling card of the leather-clad rocker, even if it was originally only released as a single in Germany. In it, Jett counts how many damns she gives about topics including her own reputation, and the total comes to zero. It all has the smack of truth given Jett cut her teeth as a teenager in The Runaways, the hard-living punk girl band assembled by gun-toting Mephistophelean rock impresario Kim Fowley.
Best for when: you’re about to fight really, really dirty – it’s often heard at WWE smackdowns.
Pat Benetar, Hit Me With Your Best Shot
For sandpaper-voiced New Yorker Pat Benetar, this single from 1980’s ‘Crimes Of Passion’ album proved to be the breakthrough hit she needed, thanks to its crossover appeal on rock radio. For songwriter Eddie Schwartz, it was therapy – he wrote it after a session of so-called “bio-energetic” therapy in which he was invited to punch a pillow. “It all seemed kind of strange, but I remember walking outside of this therapy session and standing on the doorstep of the building I’d been in, this small house in Toronto, and the title just came to me, ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’.”
Best for when: you need to hit the target – same reason it’s heard blasting from the tannoy at baseball games and football matches.
Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give you Up
Did Rick Astley know, when he hit the big time with this song in 1987, that it would one day become almost nine percent of all video data on the internet thanks to the RickRolling trend? Or that he’d one day perform it at Club NME with his actual mate Dave Grohl from actual Nirvana and Foo Fighters? Did he know there’d be memes dissecting its lyrics into flow charts and pictograms? It’s doubtful isn’t it. But he did always have a sly smile while singing it.
Best for when: you need a distraction. Rick roll those enemies!
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is coming October 26 to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and streaming via GeForce. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cloud Version for Nintendo Switch also coming October 26