EYE OF THE TIGER
Story behind the best Rocky songs 🥊
Rocky soundtrack is the best representation of the symbolism of Sylvester Stallone’s films: fight, effort, courage, self-improvement and love. We review with you the stories of the songs that marked the saga of the most famous boxer, Rocky Balboa.
Story behind the best songs from Rocky
The story of Rocky films is one of self-improvement, a good dose of motivation starring Sylvester Stallone and spiced with a soundtrack that is undoubtedly epic and exceptional.
With themes that have touched the hearts of several generations, songs like Eye Of The Tiger or Hearts on Fire have given meaning to these films.
Although the original idea was that David Shire would be in charge of the music for the film, in the end it was Bill Conti who was the main composer for most parts of the American boxer saga. In the tapes, each song tells a story and conveys the power and adrenaline of being in the ring. In short, they make us feel what Rocky feels and take us right into his experiences in a masterful way.
Want to find out all about our favourite Rocky songs and all his sequels? Get ready and get in the ring with us! 👊
1. Rocky I – Bill Conti – Gonna Fly Now
Rocky climbing the steps of the Philadelphia Museum to the sound of ‘Gonna Fly Now‘.
- You feel like jumping into the ring don’t you? ‘Gonna Fly Now‘ is an absolutely legendary theme for several generations, as well as being the main theme for the boxing saga starring Sylvester Stallone.
- Written by the composer of most of the Rocky soundtracks, Bill Conti, it featured Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins for the lyrics and DeEtta West and Nelson Pigford for the vocals.
- ‘Gonna Fly Now‘ was included in the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movie Songs, at number 58.
- I’m sure that just by listening to its first notes, the image of Rocky Balboa training, climbing the 72 steps that lead to the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, comes to mind.
- ‘Gonna Fly Now‘ has had different versions in several of the Rocky films, being used in hundreds of sporting events and in a few TV commercials 🛩️
- The lyrics of the song are only 30 words long, which was not a disadvantage to be nominated for Best Original Song at the 49th Oscar Awards. Did it win in its category? We’ll leave this mystery for the end of the post.
2. Rocky I – Bill Conti – Going the distance
- We have to wait a little while to hear Going The Distance. A hair-raising track that plays during the decisive fight between Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa, right at the end of the first film of the famous saga.
- As the seconds pass, the song grows in intensity, integrating more and more orchestral instruments.
- The end result is a unique, fast-paced and epic theme that serves as a perfect finale to this cinematic work released in 1976 and directed by John G. Avildsen, who took home an Academy Award statuette for Best Director 🏆
- It’s not all blood and sweat, because Rocky I has moments for love too. Specifically, First Date serves as the soundtrack to the moment when Adrian finally decides to go out with Rocky.
- The piano melody, delicate and sensitive, shows her perspective, a shy and hesitant woman, but who finally lets herself go and lets her feelings come to the surface.
- Did you know that the final montage of the meeting between the two characters had nothing to do with the original idea?
- It was supposed to take place in a crowded place, like a restaurant or something similar. In the end, the meeting scene was filmed in an empty ice rink ⛸️, as the short budget was not enough to pay for a large number of extras.
- Undoubtedly, the themes chosen to allude to romanticism and these types of scenes give the film a very special and intimate touch. The credit goes to Bill Conti of whom Sylvester Stallone said:
How did this thin man with an Afghan dog, seize the soul of every character and set it to music?
4. Rocky I – Bill Conti – The Final Bell
- The Final Bell, also by Bill Conti, begins softly with the piano chords of the iconic ‘Gonna Fly Now‘ and then rises in intensity, integrating percussion, brass and fretted string instruments into the tune.
- It’s a theme that cries out for victory. Highly motivational!
- ‘The Final Bell’ sounds just after Rocky’s epic 15th round against Apollo. Remember who won that fight? It’s Rocky who manages to stay on his feet after the intense fight and takes the glory
5. Rocky I – Bill Conti – Rocky’s Reward
- After an hour of punches and boxing in abundance, it is hard to believe that it would end with a theme as magnificent and full of musical sensitivity as Rocky’s Reward.
- A mellow melody with high notes by the fretted string family.
- It brings the first Rocky Balboa film to a close, occupying a privileged but often overlooked place in the end credits.
- One should never get up from the cinema seat or turn off the television before the end credits as in many cases, such as in Rocky, there are hidden sound gems like this tune 💎
6. Rocky III – Survivor – Eye of the Tiger
- Eye Of The Tiger is the theme song for Rocky Balboa, as well as the main track from Rocky III soundtrack, released in 1982.
- The song far surpassed all expectations, becoming the most beloved theme song of the saga.
- A war anthem that, even 40 years later, still motivates as it did on the first day.
- In our exclusive Eye of The Tiger article you will find out the full story and what Queen has to do with it 😆
7. Rocky III – Bill Conti, Vicent DeRosa, Mike Lang – Mickey
- I’m sure you remember the sad moment when Mickey, Rocky’s trainer, dies in the third part of the saga.
- In Rocky III Sylvester Stallone fights Mr. T. ⛓️, the actor made famous by his role as B.A. Baracus in The A-Team. He gives Mickey a boost, who soon after suffers a heart attack.
- This beautiful instrumental piece plays as Rocky rides through town on his motorbike in grief after losing his trainer and losing the fight against Mr T.
- ‘Mickey’ is one of the most beautiful melodies Bill Conti composed for the Rocky soundtrack.
8. Rocky III – Bill Conti – Conquest
- In Rocky III final fight a battle music plays. A melody which could well have been used in a war film as armies head off to fight 🏇
- This instrumental piece is called ‘Conquest‘.
- Recorded by a full orchestra conducted by Bill Conti, because Rocky III’s budget already allowed for greater luxuries, it is notable for the trumpets, drum roll and violins.
- Who won that famous fight, Rocky or Clubber Lang (Mr. T)? Of course, as you can see in the video Rocky Balboa beat Mr. T.
9. Rocky IV – Survivor – Burning heart
- Once again Survivor, the band responsible for ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, was in charge of providing the music for the fourth installment of Rocky, released in 1986.
- Although the band is the same, the vocalist was not, as Jimi Jaminson joined Survivor to replace Dave Bickler. Jimi embroided a song that would occupy the 2nd position on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks.
- ‘Burning Heart‘ is the central song of this story that represents the struggle between Russia and the United States, a clear allusion to the Cold War that both powers fought.
- Who is the Soviet that Rocky Balboa fights in Rocky 4? The protagonist of the film is the famous actor Dolph Lundgren, who in the role of the Russian boxer Ivan Drago, killed Rocky’s great friend Apollo Creed, forcing Rocky’s return to the ring to avenge his death.
- The song refers to the fight that each individual must have against himself.
- By the way, in the second part of the Rocky sequel, Creed II, Apollo’s son fights against Ivan Drago’s son. We have generational change 😆
10. Rocky IV – John Cafferty – Hearts on fire
- Rocky IV soundtrack was full of hits like Hearts On Fire, an intense power ballad.
- The song plays during different scenes where Rocky and Ivan Draco are training, each with their own methods, while they suffer Russian weather 🥶
- The song is performed by John Cafferty, member of the American band The Beaver Brown Band, well known in the late 80s.
- Its numbers were not as high as other Rocky songs, but it is still a favourite of the public, including us.
- Cafferty voiced the burning hearts but it was Vince DiCola, Ed Fruge and Joe Esposito who provided the lyrics, as with many other Rocky songs.
11. Rocky IV – Vince DiCola – War/Fanfare
- ‘War/Fanfare‘ is an instrumental theme that plays in the final fight between Rocky and Ivan Drago 🥊
- Led by trumpets, the piece alludes to war, both the one that was dividing society and the one that was dividing the opponents in the ring.
- In this Rocky sequel, Sylvester Stallone couldn’t count on Bill Conti for the soundtrack.
- It turns out that, during the production period of Rocky IV, Conti was unavailable, as he was working on the music for the first two Karate Kid films.
- So Vince DiCola took creative control of the Rocky IV soundtrack, giving it a special touch without sacrificing the epicness of all the Rocky songs.
12. Rocky IV – James Brown – Living in America
- Living in America 🦅 is a song composed by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight and performed by James Brown.
- It is part of his album Gravity, released in 1985, but also of the Rocky 4 soundtrack, released the same year with the film.
- Brown’s recording of the song was a request from Stallone himself, even though the artist was not particularly well known among young audiences. In fact, his appearance on the soundtrack earned the singer a much wider audience.
- It wasn’t the only joy for James Brown, who also picked up a Grammy.
- Living in America plays right at the beginning of the film, in the show that Apollo Creed puts on before his fight with Drago.
13. Rocky IV – Robert Tepper – No easy way out
- The best Rocky soundtrack, next to the first instalment, is that of Rocky IV. To it contributes ‘No easy way out‘, the song performed by Robert Tepper.
- Composed by Tepper himself, it is about his first divorce, a difficult and painful time for him.
- ‘No easy way out‘ has a double intro, which is unusual and gives the song a special touch.
- Do you know how ‘No easy way out’ ended in Rocky IV? Stallone was visiting the record company and happened to hear the song. He completely fell in love with it, making a spot in the film specifically for it to play.
- The music plays after Rocky’s decision to fight Drago in Russia, something his wife, Adrian, is not happy about 😡
14. Rocky IV – Vince DiCola – Training Montage
- We end Rocky IV with a lesser known, but equally magnificent piece, ‘Training Montage‘.
- Like ‘Hearts on Fire‘ it is played as Rocky is training in the snow in Russia, preparing for his fight with Ivan Drago ❄️
- Written by Vince DiCola, it follows in the tradition of the music throughout the Rocky saga, which always includes an instrumental song as Rocky trains for his fights.
- Metallic, electronic, powerful and motivational, ‘Training Montage‘ is a Rocky song to discover.
15. Creed – Fitspo, B.Conti – Alone in the ring
- With Creed, the Rocky Balboa franchise continued its course with a slight twist. In this film, Stallone continues to give life to the American boxer, who dedicates himself body and soul to training Adonis Creed, son of his deceased rival and friend, Apollo.
- With the incombustible Bill Conti at the baton, this piano instrumental will bring a tear or two to your eye 😭, reminding you of the good times of the saga and reflecting that loneliness that is experienced in the ring before and after a fight.
- Before finishing this post we have to tell you the answer to the question at the beginning. Do you remember that ‘Gonna Fly Now’ was nominated for an Oscar? Well, it didn’t win it, but it got the applause of all those who love and listen to this song day after day ❤️