Anyone who has ever seen the 1987 Vestron Motion Picture company’s film “Dirty Dancing” probably loved not only the movie but the amazing soundtrack as well. RCA Records released the original soundtrack album on vinyl on July 18, 1987. It went on to sell 32 million copies worldwide as well as becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time! In fact, it was #1 on the Billboard 200 chart in the US for a whopping 18-weeks and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) 11 times. And, it’s not just loved here in the US. In Germany, not only were there 3.24 million copies shipped but “Dirty Dancing” is the country’s all-time best-selling album! So, although all the tunes from the film are clearly winners, we’ve rated them for you from plain old fabulous to the absolutely most fabulous songs from everybody’s favorite movie musical, “Dirty Dancing”:
8. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons)
This popular song plays in the film’s opening when Baby and the family are driving to Kellerman’s in their car. It’s a classic from 1962 that was written by Stacy Ferguson and Tobias Gad and owned by BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. The song was a big hit way back then in spite of the fact that the lyrics were even more repetitive than most songs of that era.
7. “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes)
“Be My Baby” plays during the scene when Johnny (Patrick Swayze) is teaching Baby (Jennifer Gray) to dance and enlists the help of his long-time dance partner, Penny. During Johnny and Baby’s dance sessions, the two start developing a mutual attraction. They perform an on-stage dance routine together because Penny is not available and other than Baby’s hesitation that causes the failure of their climactic lift, their public performance is a rousing success. Meanwhile, back at Kellerman’s, it turns out that Penny was seriously injured by a botched abortion (that Baby paid for), and Baby has to enlist her father’s help with Penny’s perilous condition. This song was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. The Ronettes (an American girl- group) were all from Washington Heights in Manhattan, NYC. Veronica Bennett (who later became Ronnie Spector) was the lead singer, along with her sister Estelle Bennett as well as cousin Nedra Talley. They had been singing together since they were teenagers and were originally named “The Darling Sisters”. They were signed by Colpix Records in 1961 but then in March 1963, they moved to Phil Spector’s Philles Records, changing their name to “The Ronettes” (an acronym for their combined names, Ronnie, Nedra, and Estelle). “Be My Baby” was their biggest hit and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming what was considered to be one of the very best songs of the 1960s by Time magazine, NME, and Pitchfork.
6. “Cry to Me” (Solomon Burke)
This song was a sixties-era ode to desire and loneliness as well as one of the very first popular songs to unify gospel, country, and R&B music genres in a single package. Many moviegoers thought that this song was played during the absolute best scene of all in the classic romantic drama. In it, Baby goes over to Johnny’s room at Kellerman’s to apologize for how her father had been treating him. Then, she admits that she has feelings for him when she says the famous line “I’m afraid of going the rest of my life never feeling like I do when I’m with you.” Then, the two dance to the song before making love in a scene that is not only well-choreographed but also very tastefully done. It’s such a shame that neither of them wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar for their amazing performances. Patrick Swayze died 22-years later.
5. “Love Man” (Otis Redding)
When Baby decides to carry a watermelon up the steps to the Kellerman employee bunkhouse, she unwittingly becomes a part of their wild dirty dancing party. She ends up being taught how to dance by Johnny, who seduces her into dancing with him. The song is sung by the great Otis Redding who was perhaps most famous for the amazing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, which is beloved by fans to this day. Redding was killed in an airplane crash on December 9, 1967, less than a week after recording that song, which was posthumously released in January 1968, quickly becoming a #1 hit.
4. “Hungry Eyes” (Eric Carmen)
This is a classic Eric Carmen tune that’s well-known as the song that was playing throughout the sex scene between Johnny and Baby. It’s a song that really has it all from rhythm and soul to pure romance. Eric Carmen was a former member of the band called The Raspberries. In 1988, the song, which was written by Franke Previte and John DeNicol, hit #3 on the Cash Box Top and #4 on the 100 Billboard Hot 100 chart.
3. “She’s Like the Wind” (Patrick Swayze)
Who knew that Patrick Swayze had an amazing voice to match his great acting chops and good looks? This is a beautiful ballad that plays during the scene when Baby has to say “goodbye” to Johnny because he was fired from Kellermans. Then, he peels out of the parking lot in his classic Chevy, leaving her standing there alone and already missing the man she loves. The song rose to #1 with a bullet on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts as well as to #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts. Patrick Swayze co-wrote the song with Stacy Widelitz in 1984.
2. “Love Is Strange” (Mickey & Sylvia)
This song plays in the scene when Johnny and Baby are messing around in the dance studio. They sing the words of the song to each other, acting them out, and it’s pretty amazing to watch them crawl on the floor like wild animals stalking each other and singing. And, Jennifer Grey is absolutely adorable when she sings “Oh Loverboy!” to Patrick Swayze.
1. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warner)
This iconic song was written by John DeNicola, Donald Markowitz, and Franke Previte, and became the “Dirty Dancing” theme song. The hit song rose to #1 in the country when the “Swayze-lift” became a wildly-popular dance move. The song is playing during the big finish to the movie when Baby finally gets up the courage and the trust in Johnny and flies into his arms, making the fairy-tale ending purely the stuff of dreams. It also won numerous major awards, including:
- A Grammy Award for “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group (with Vocals)”
- A Golden Globe Award for “Best Original Song”
- An Academy Award for “Best Original Song”