In 1984, Eddie Murphy released his third live-action film under the direction of Martin Brest. The comedic tale told the story of Axel Foley, a wise-cracking detective from Detroit who finds himself in Beverly Hills to investigate a murder. His investigation leads him to cross paths with many suspicious parties and eventually brings him closer to finding out what happened. This film not only helped establish Eddie Murphy as a movie star – it also gave us some great music to enjoy for years after. In this post, I’ll be talking about the ten best songs from the original soundtrack for this film, ranked via a personal preference. So without further ado – here are those 10 best songs from the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack.
10. Axel F. by Harold Faltermeyer (3:01)
Though it’s probably not the most popular song from the soundtrack, it does give us an early glimpse at the talent of composer/producer Harold Faltermeyer. He was able to take a fairly simple concept and turn it into something that people could remember even after seeing this film at least once. Perhaps more importantly, this was also one of his first collaborations with German producer Michael Sembello – which would later lead to their iconic work on “Maniac.” Fun fact: the bassline in the chorus for this song is sampled from Stevie Wonder’s 1976 single “I Wish.”
9. Sweetback by Isaac Hayes (4:39)
This song helps to establish the jazzy and soulful tone of this soundtrack. It fits well within the film’s setting and provides a great break from the more fast-paced tracks that would appear later in the album. Isaac Hayes threw in some fantastic runs, which helped bring out his talent as an individual musician. Like many songs on this soundtrack, it’s a bit longer than what you’d expect for a song of this type – but there’s no denying that it does work well within the confines of its respective film.
8. Rock ‘N Roll Me Again by The System (3:08)
‘Rock ‘N Roll Me Again’ played during the opening credits for Beverly Hills Cop and was released as a single before the film’s premiere. This song helped establish The System as a solid modern R&B group that could compete with other popular acts of the era. It also allows us to see some of Axel Foley’s more comedic side, which was a nice touch given the tone of this soundtrack.
7. Gratitude by Danny Elfman (4:59)
Danny Elfman’s “Gratitude” was performed for this film, but it wasn’t included in the original release of Beverly Hills Cop’s official soundtrack. It has since been included as an additional track on recent re-releases; it’s one of the more interesting pieces from this soundtrack. It doesn’t follow a traditional pop song structure – but rather takes the form of a short musical composition specifically written for this film. Elfman has many credits to his name as both an actor and composer, but “Gratitude” is probably my personal favorite of his contributions.
6. The Heat Is On by Glenn Frey (3:47)
This song was written and performed by Glenn Frey, who would later work with Harold Faltermeyer again in the film Top Gun (1986). It’s a great example of what can happen when you take a relatively unknown talent and pair them with an up-and-coming producer like Faltermeyer. The song has a strong sense of rhythm, which helps maintain the momentum brought forth by the accompanying movie – and it does work well within its respective context.
5. Neutron Dance by The Pointer Sisters (4:13)
The Pointer Sisters outdid themselves with the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack track. With a strong backing beat and a sense of momentum that’s reinforced by staccato synthesizers, ‘Neutron Dance’ is one of the most memorable pieces from this soundtrack. It was also the first song that Faltermeyer and Sembello wrote together, which means it’s kind of like an early ‘baby-prodigy’ version of ‘Maniac.’ That being said, this track might have been a bit overplayed after its initial release – but it’s still a well-crafted piece of music that’s capable of holding up to repeated listens.
4. Emergency by Rockie Robbins (3:29)
The opening bars for ‘Emergency’ are the most iconic part of this track, written and performed by Rockie Robbins. It starts slow and gradually builds in momentum before transitioning into the main chorus – and the payoff is worth it. If you’ve ever watched Beverly Hills Cop, this song will probably be familiar to you as soon as it starts playing. It’s one of those songs that helped establish this particular soundtrack as a memorable piece of cinematic history.
3. Do You Really (Want My Love?) by Junior Giscombe (3:40)
Junior Giscombe’s ‘Do You Really (Want My Love?)’ was a major hit back when it first came out – and the film producers at Paramount Pictures saw fit to include it on the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack. It’s also one of my personal favorites from this album, with an upbeat rhythm, a memorable melody, and lyrics that are easy to sing along with. If you’ve never heard this song before, then you owe it to yourself to take a moment and give it a listen.
2. Don’t Get Stopped In Beverly Hills by Shalamar (4:15)
This track was written and performed by Shalamar; it’s one of the more well-known songs from this soundtrack due to its frequent use in pop culture. It’s a fun piece, with an upbeat rhythm and lyrics that are just as much about avoiding trouble as they are about enjoying oneself. The song has a certain simplicity that makes it enjoyable to listen to, which is probably why it’s been used in so many different forms of media over the years.
1. New Attitude by Patti Labelle (4:37)
‘New Attitude’ was written and performed by Patti Labelle. This song is a prime example of how the production team at Paramount Pictures chose to highlight some of the most interesting voices on the soundtrack. It has a unique rhythm, with long stretches where vocals are absent and replaced by something more instrumental instead. It was a bold move at the time, but it paid off. ‘New Attitude’ is an absolute classic that’s well worth checking out if you’ve never heard it before.
The Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack is a must-have for any 1980s soundtrack lover. It’s one of those albums that has something for just about everyone, with music from several different genres and top performances from some of the era’s most talented musicians. This is one of those soundtracks that come highly recommended – which means it should be added to your collection as soon as you possibly can.