How does the Aquaman tie-in song "Ocean to Ocean" compare to other 2018 superhero movies? Find out in our ranking that also includes Black Panther, Deadpool 2, Venom, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Teen Titans Go! To the Movies!
This year has been a fantastic one for superhero movies, from three Marvel Cinematic Universe releases to Sony Pictures launching not one, but two Marvel Comics movie franchises. Twentieth Century Fox also debuted Deadpool 2 - the sequel to the smash hit 2016 Deadpool film - and Once Upon A Deadpool, while Warner Bros. and DC Films returned after more than a year hiatus following Justice League with the Aquaman solo movie. But while 2018 was a good year for superhero movies in general, it was also a banner year for superhero movie tie-in songs. Tie-in songs have long existed in Hollywood as a way to help further promote movie releases. Studios commission songs from popular artists and debut tie-in music videos to go with the tracks. Though the trend has died off someone in recent decades, the tie-in song returned with a vengeance, especially pertaining to superhero movies in 2018.
Now, we rank all the superhero movie tie-in songs of 2018. To determine the ranking we've evaluated how good each 2018 tie-in song is, how catchy it is, and how effectively it's used within the context of the movie for which it was created. In the event a movie has more than one tie-in song, they're combined together and evaluated as a whole. See Screen Rant's ranking of the 2018 superhero movie tie-in songs below!
6. "Venom" by Eminem from Venom
Written and produced by Eminem and his long-time collaborator Luis Resto, "Venom" plays over the credits of Ruben Fleischer's Venom. Eminem teased "Venom" in late August, the day before he released his 2018 album Kamikaze, on which the song also appears. The lyrics for Eminem's Venom song features the rapper comparing himself to the titular symbiote and namedropping Tom Hardy's character in the movie, Eddie Brock.
In terms of quality, "Venom" perhaps isn't Eminem's greatest song, but it falls into what the rapper does well - mainstream hip hop. Further, though the song gains points for directly referencing aspects of the movie, it also loses some for only being used as a credits song. Certainly, the nature of the song, which refers to characters and aspects of the movie, means it wouldn't make much sense to play during the film itself, but using a tie-in song over the credits is the easiest implementation of a track and knocks "Venom" down to the bottom of the list.
5. "Ashes" by Céline Dion from Deadpool 2
Written by Petey Martin, Jordan Smith and Tedd T and produced by Steve Mac, Céline Dion performed "Ashes" for the Deadpool 2 soundtrack. She also appeared in the "Ashes" music video for Deadpool 2 that featured a costumed Wade Wilson showing off some serious dance moves. (However, Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds didn't dance; the moves were instead performed by professional dancer Yanis Marshall). In David Leitch's Deadpool 2, "Ashes" plays over the opening credits sequence that mimics the meta humor of that opening credits from the first film while also reacting to the major death that occurred just prior.
Since "Ashes" plays over a glorified credits sequence - albeit one that reflects on an early character death while injecting some levity into the film - it gets knocked down to the lower half of our ranking. However, Dion is a bonafide music superstar and she once again proves her accolades are deserved with a stunning performance on an emotional, and oddly catchy song for Deadpool 2. Further, since once of Dion's most well-known songs is "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, her providing a tie-in song for Deadpool 2 falls fantastically in line with the titular character's brand of meta humor.
4. "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life" by Michael Bolton for Teen Titans Go! To The Movies
Performed by classic 80s music star Michael Bolton along with the voice cast of Teen Titans Go!, "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life" is incorporated as a musical number in Warner Bros' Teen Titans Go! To The Movies. Included on the song are voice actors Scott Menville as Robin, Greg Cipes as Beast Boy, Khary Payton as Cyborg, Tara Strong as Raven and Hynden Walch as Starfire. The musical number appears as a turning point for Robin, giving him the confidence to get his own Hollywood movie.
"Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life" certainly gets points for catchiness and being implemented well within the movie for which it was written. It sets up a hilarious joke in the movie that arrives at the conclusion of the song and is entirely worth it for that gag alone. However, where "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life" loses points is in originality and quality. Arguably, it attempts the same as what The LEGO Movie did with "Everything Is AWESOME!!!" - releasing a catchy, upbeat tune as a tie-in for an animated movie - but is less successful in achieving the same wide appeal.
3. "Ocean to Ocean" by Pitbull feat. Rhea from Aquaman
Performed by Pitbull, with Rhea providing vocals on a chorus that samples Toto's "Africa," "Ocean to Ocean" is the tie-in song for James Wan's Aquaman. Though the song made the rounds on social media because Pitbull covers "Africa" - itself a classic earworm that has gained more and more popularity over the years due to internet culture - the track also features original lyrics. In terms of how the song is used in the movie, it plays over a scene in which Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) arrive in Africa and head to the Sahara Desert. Yes, a song that samples "Africa" plays as a transition while characters travel to Africa.
The on-the-nose nature of how "Ocean to Ocean" is implemented in Aquaman may not sit well with many moviegoers, but it's undoubtedly a stylistic choice made by Wan to include the song in this manner. By sampling "Africa," "Ocean to Ocean" also taps into a specific internet meme that feels very current in 2018 (especially in the wake of Weezer releasing their own cover of "Africa"). Altogether "Ocean to Ocean" is a catchy and generally enjoyable song in the way all Pitbull tracks are that's actually used within the movie it was released for. Though it may not please everyone, Aquaman's tie-in song works well within the movie, helps promote the DC film and stands on its own as a catchy tune.
2. Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar for Black Panther
In an unprecedented move for Marvel Studios, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler enlisted the exceptionally talented Kendrick Lamar to produce a tie-in song for the movie. Instead, though, Lamar decided to produce an entire album for the MCU film. Four of the songs - "All the Stars," "Pray For Me," "Opps" and "King's Dead" - were released as singles for Black Panther, with the tracks and album receiving a number of award recognition, including 2019 Grammy, Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations (as of this writing, the Oscar nominations have not yet been announced).
Although "All the Stars" is simply used as a credits song in Black Panther, other singles from the soundtrack play during key moments throughout the movie. And, in addition to the positive critical and fan response, the number of awards Black Panther: The Album has been nominated for showcases the fantastic quality of the entire soundtrack. Still, perhaps the only aspect where Black Panther's soundtrack falls down is in the catchiness factor. None of the songs on the album truly fall into the category of earworm. Instead, they're simply good songs. Although that's in no way a bad thing, it does knock Black Panther: The Album down to the second spot in our ranking.
1. "Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Written and performed by Post Malone and Swae Lee for the soundtrack to Sony Pictures Animation's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, "Sunflower" plays over the scene in which viewers first meet the hero of the film: Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). The song has been well received by music and movie critics alike, as well as casual moviegoers who have checked out Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in theaters. Further, a music video for "Sunflower" revealed new footage ahead of the movie's release in theaters, helping to promote the film.
"Sunflower" is key to establishing Miles' character in Spider-Verse, showcasing the young hero singing along to the song without knowing all the words. It's an endearing moment that quickly introduces the character to viewers. Further, "Sunflower" is catchy and it's a quality song in its own right. Because it's used effectively within the movie it was written for and it also manages to stand on its own, "Sunflower" is both a good tie-in song and a good song - period. Altogether, "Sunflower" from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best superhero movie tie-in song of 2018.
Honorable Mention: Though not technically a single released as a tie-in to a movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse also includes the song "Spidey Bells" performed by Chris Pine (who voices the version of Peter Parker from Miles' universe). The brief song plays at the very end of the credits for Spider-Verse, and it's a hilarious holiday-themed musical treat for viewers who stick around. But since it's not an official tie-in song, it does not make Screen Rant's ranking of 2018 superhero movie tie-in songs - though it still deserves an honorable mention.
How would you rank the superhero movie tie-in songs of 2018? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!