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‘Flashdance’ Soundtrack: A Look at the Songs That Made It the Ultimate ’80s Dance Movie

Put on your off-the-shoulder sweatshirt and get moving!

Flashdance is one of the most iconic movies of the ’80s, to the point where the shot of Jennifer Beals in her cut-off sweatshirt stands as an instant shorthand for the era. The story of Alex Owens (Beals), a beautiful welder by day and dancer by night who longs to leave the seedy strip club where she performs and become a ballerina, is jam-packed with fun fashions and MTV-inspired sequences, making it a delightfully nostalgic watch over 40 years later.

While some may say the narrative of Flashdance is a bit silly, the power of its soundtrack, which topped the Billboard charts in 1983 and went Platinum six times over, cannot be overstated.

The film’s composer, Giorgio Moroder, who also worked on movies like American Gigolo and Scarface, is known as one of the most important figures in disco, and he pioneered the synth-driven music that defined the ’80s. He gave the soundtrack an electronic sparkle that made it perfect for the dance floor, and his theme for the movie is a European-flavored synthesizer symphony that influenced countless soundtracks in its wake.

Here’s a look at the Flashdance soundtrack, song by song.

1. “Flashdance… What a Feeling” — Irene Cara

“Flashdance… What a Feeling” is an anthem bursting with triumphant energy. The song spent six weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and won both an Academy Award and a Grammy.

The singer, Irene Cara, who sadly passed away in 2022, was a major part of not one but two beloved ’80s soundtracks, as she also starred in and sang the theme song for Fame.

Cara called the success of her contribution to the Flashdance soundtrack “bittersweet,” as she was in a legal dispute with her record company at the height of her success.

2. “He’s a Dream” — Shandi Sinnamon: Flashdance soundtrack strip club song

“He’s a Dream” appears in the infamous scene where Alex performs a dance routine that peaks with her getting doused with water.

The song has a sexy, swaggering energy that complements the scene like, well… a dream, and is performed by Shandi Sinnamon, who also performed a song on the soundtrack of The Karate Kid and sang the theme song for the ’80s sitcom Charles in Charge.

3. “Manhunt” — Karen Kamon

“Manhunt” is another one of the film’s seductive strip club songs. The song is performed by Karen Kamon, and is her best-known work.

Outside of Flashdance, Kamon, who passed away in 2020, had a 1984 single, “Loverboy,” that peaked at #88 on the Billboard Hot 100, and worked with Karen Carpenter of the Carpenters on her solo album.

4. “Lady, Lady, Lady” — Joe Esposito: Flashdance soundtrack love song

“Lady, Lady, Lady” is a sugary ballad that soundtracks the burgeoning romance between Alex and Nick (Michael Nouri), the owner of the steel mill where she works.

The song is performed by Joe Esposito, who was previously a member of the band Brooklyn Dreams and collaborated with disco diva Donna Summer (who also appears on the Flashdance soundtrack… more on that in a minute!). His songs have also been in movies like Scarface, The Karate Kid and Coming to America.

In 2017, “Lady, Lady, Lady” was introduced to a new audience when it was used in the ’80s-set film Call Me by Your Name.

5. “Imagination” — Laura Branigan

“Imagination” soundtracks one of the film’s artsy, music video-inspired strip club sequences, and combines Laura Brannigan‘s powerful voice with rockin’ guitar riffs. She described the song as having a “New York sound” with “one foot on the curb and one in the street.”

Brannigan, who died in 2004, had much success outside of the Flashdance soundtrack, with early ’80s hits like “Gloria” (which also appeared in Flashdance but was not on the film’s soundtrack album) and “Self Control.”

6. “Romeo” — Donna Summer

Donna Summer famously worked with Moroder on her game-changing 1977 disco hit “I Feel Love,” so it was no surprise that she appeared on the Flashdance soundtrack.

Summer also collaborated with “Lady, Lady, Lady” singer Joe Esposito on her 1978 song “Heaven Knows.” The disco queen, who died in 2012, may not have made the most famous song on the Flashdance soundtrack, but her influence can certainly be felt throughout it.

7. “Seduce Me Tonight” — Cycle V

Cycle V, who performed the upbeat rock tune “Seduce Me Tonight,” wasn’t actually a band, but rather a one-off name used by singer Frank DiMino, the lead singer of the glam-metal band Angel.

Angel was discovered by Gene Simmons of Kiss, and the band still tours today. DiMino also worked with Moroder on another song, “Blood From a Stone,” which appeared on his reimagined soundtrack to the 1927 silent film Metropolis.

8. “I’ll Be Here Where the Heart Is” — Kim Carnes: Flashdance soundtrack ballad

“I’ll Be Here Where the Heart Is” is an emotional power ballad by Kim Carnes. The raspy-voiced singer had a huge hit a few years earlier with her 1981 song “Bette Davis Eyes.”

The popularity of Carnes’ Flashdance song continued in 1984, when Tina Turner covered it during her tour.

9. “Maniac” — Michael Sembello

“Maniac,” one of the most popular songs on the Flashdance soundtrack, is known for having a surprisingly dark origin story. The song’s cowriter, Dennis Matkosky, said he was inspired to write it when he saw Maniac, a 1980 horror movie about a serial killer.

The original lyrics were considerably darker, but the catchiness of the song was undeniable. The soundtrack’s producer, Phil Ramone, loved it so much that he got Matkosky and his songwriting partner and singer, Michael Sembello, to change the lyrics, and the rest is history.

Like “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” the song topped the Billboard chart. Years later, “Maniac” remains a high-energy ’80s confection that makes us want to get up and boogie — even if we don’t dance quite as well as Alex!

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