10 Best Gangster Movie Songs

Thursday, February 10 by Miranda Caliban

Fans of atmospheric mobster movies may find themselves humming along with these 10 best Gangster movie songs. A movie is only as good a its soundtrack, and these songs really helped set the gangster mood.

  1. “Once Upon a Time in America’s” main theme is, perhaps, the most beautiful and heartbreaking gangster movie songs ever created. Its gentle strings and bright notes evoke thoughts of home and warmth, but Ennio Morricone weaves sad notes in between the bright ones, giving just a hint of sadness as the film begins.
  2. The soft strings of “The Godfather Theme” play a melody that helps foreshadow both the grandeur and the sadness of “The Godfather Trilogy”. The theme’s mournful beginning and jazzy ending make it worthy of a top spot in any Top 10 list of Gangster Movie Songs.
  3. “Casino” is full of classic tunes that help capture both the glamour and the darkness of 1970's Las Vegas. Dean Martin’s “You’re Nobody `Til Somebody Loves You,” in particular, gives the film a genuine, classic feel with its kicking drum beats, swinging saxophones and smooth vocals. These things, along with the jovial piano playing help make the tune one of the best gangster movie songs of the modern day.
  4. Ennio Morricone’s “Deborah’s Theme” from “Once Upon a Time in America” blends strings and soft choir voices together to create a hauntingly beautiful melody.  At times, the music seems like something out of a Disney fairytale. Yet, in other spots, it is almost painfully sad. It leaves the listener longing for the past. Its ability to tug at the listener’s heart is what makes this gangster movie song great.
  5. With its wistful lyrics and happy-go-lucky style, Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” transports the audience of “Goodfellas” into the 1940s. Bobby Darin’s cool vocals and his band’s snappy rhythm make this gangster movie song one of the ten best.
  6. “West Side Story” became an instant hit as much for its song and dance numbers as its plot. It’s swinging prologue, complete with the sound of snapping fingers and Brooklyn accents make it charming, swinging and suspenseful and earn it its place as one of the top ten gangster movie songs.
  7. “Pulp Fiction’s” main theme, “Misirlou” is a strangely dark combination of electric guitars and Greek traditional music. It gives Pulp Fiction an air of mystery that few other songs could duplicate. Misirlou’s exotic, but distinctly modern feel make it one of the most memorable gangster movie songs of the decade.
  8. The soundtrack for the British Gangster film “Snatch” differs greatly from those of American gangster films. Rather than looking back toward the 1940's as many American gangster films tend to, Snatch’s soundtrack is refreshingly modern. Klint’s “Diamond” is the best of these modern films, with its deep base and fast-paced drum beats, which help this gangster movie song set the mood for darkly smooth action.
  9. The low, clashing brass and loud bursting trumpets of “Taxi Driver’s” theme song are, at times, jarring. But they give the listener a feeling of fear and suspense. The lighter sections of the theme are casual and light, evoking images of trips through dark alleyways and streets. These contrasting sounds max the Taxi Driver theme stand out from other gangster movie tunes.
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