Name for the genre of 1980s overcome-great-odds synthpop music?

For a few years in the mid-1980s, it seemed like cheesy fight songs with an electropop/synthpop sound were at the forefront of popular music. A few examples that come to mind:

  • You’re the Best by Joe Esposito in Karate Kid

  • Push it to the Limit by Paul Engemann

  • Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

Basically, the 1980s guy version of today’s empowerment pop (“Fight Song”, “Scars to Your Beautiful”, etc.). Is there a name for this style of music?

No idea, but dies Eye of the Tiger even feature a synth? There’s a bit of piano in it, but it’s a straight rocker otherwise.

Montage music. Workout music…later became Jock Jams?

I can’t find any name for it other than maybe calling it inspirational 80s movie soundtrack music. I did find a list of various examples here, which includes two of the OP’s three songs.

Though “montage music” mentioned above does work, too, for how I imagine most of these songs in my head.

Interestingly, two of the OP’s examples were originally written to be used in Rocky III. “You’re the Best” was intended to be used in the film (hence the “History repeats itself” line) but was replaced with “Eye of the Tiger” (and then was to be used in Flashdance but was replaced with “Maniac,” at least according to Esposito), before eventually being used in The Karate Kid.

I thinl all these would come under the heading “Power Ballads”

Nah. I’m not familiar enough with the other two to say, but I wouldn’t call “Eye of the Tiger” a ballad (power or otherwise). Too uptempo; plus when I think of a power ballad, I think of something that starts out low-key and builds to a crescendo.

Montage music works for me, and has additional validity through its use in Team America World Police.

Yeah, definitely not what I would call a power ballad. “Push It To The Limit”, is a propulsive synth/dance-pop number (co-written by disco/electronic music pioneer Georgio Morodor.) When I think quintessential “power ballad,” I think of stuff like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (Poison), “I’ll Be There For You” (Bon Jovi), “Open Arms” (Jouney), “November Rain” (Guns and Roses.)

I don’t have an answer to the question, but I feel obligated to include another example: “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” by John Parr

Eye of the Tiger does seem a little out of place.

A few others that come to mind:

  • Never Surrender by Stan Bush

  • Take it Higher by Larry Greene

  • Anything by John Farnham – Thunder In Your Heart, Playing to Win, Break the ice, etc.

“Montage music” seems like a great name for the genre. Whenever I hear one of those songs, I think of some upstart high school wrestler in the 1980s lifting weights, running, drinking raw eggs, and doing hundreds of sit-ups while training, with the goal of defeating Chad, the all-state champ from the high school in the rich neighborhood, who beat him up in the mall parking lot, right in front of Jenny, the girl he has a crush on, and now Chad is taking Jenny to his prom, and bragging to his friends that he’s going to take her virginity afterwards. Or something like that.

80s Motivationals.

“power pop” perhaps?

Pat Benatar would be a good example as well.

I think after Team America “montage music” became the most accepted term. The genre is weird in that the only artist who has pretty much made his money primarily on this type of music is Stan Bush and about 70% of his songs are in this vein with the rest being love songs. And he’s still making new montage music today even though there aren’t any movie producers breaking down his door to buy it. But his fans still eat it up and he’s always going to Comic cons and sci fi cons.

It’s definitely in that style, but it’s a more specific subgenre due to its lyrical content. Although not all of those songs were written for movies, some were just kinda shoehorned in, like “No Easy Way Out”, which is a love song that sounds like a motivational song and so got put into the Rocky 4 montage because Stallone loved the tune.