12 Iconic Songs from the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack

Dirty Dancing was a runaway success from the moment it was released back in the ’80s. That was in no small part thanks to the music (ok, the dancing wasn’t bad either, with the late, great Patrick Swayze strutting his stuff).

So, without further ado, here are the best songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Just remember, nobody puts baby in a corner!

Be My Baby – The Ronettes

‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes plays during the opening credits of Dirty Dancing—an iconic song that perfectly sets up this iconic movie. Filled with lovesick lyrics like “if I had the chance, I’d never let you go” and “for every kiss you give me, I’ll give you three,” this song is a plea for love. All the narrator wants is for this person to be her baby, and she is not afraid to wear her feelings on her sleeve.

Related: See more songs with the word baby.

She’s Like the Wind – Patrick Swayze, Wendy Fraser

Written and sung by lead actor Patrick Swayze himself, ‘She’s Like the Wind’ plays over the emotional goodbye between Johnny and Baby after Johnny is fired from his job. We hear the doubt Johnny has over deserving Baby’s love with the line “she’s out of my league.” It’s a mournful song with acoustic instrumentation and heartbroken horns that really drive home that sorrow.

Related: This song features on our playlist of the best songs about wind.

Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen

One of the most recognizable tracks from Dirty Dancing, ‘Hungry Eyes’ is the soundtrack of the secret dance lessons Johnny gives to Baby. With old-timey synths and seductive horns, this track is all about being deeply attracted to somebody. The passion of the song is helped along by Eric Carmen’s rich and raspy vocals, and you’ll feel the magic with expressive lines like “I’ve got hungry eyes, I feel the magic between you and I.”

Related: Check out these enticing desire songs.

Stay – Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs

Baby wanders through a crowd of dancing couples to this soulful song. It’s sensual yet comical, upbeat yet suspenseful. The doo-wop backing vocals and lilting melodies make ‘Stay’ the perfect track for this tension-filled party scene. Baby is trying to give her dad’s money to Penny Johnson, making the lyric “your daddy don’t mind” pretty ironic. Fun Fact: this was the shortest song to ever go Number One on the US Hot 100.

Related: Love isn’t easy! Listen to these songs about tough love.

Yes – Merry Clayton

‘Yes’ by Merry Clayton plays in anticipation of Lisa Houseman and Robbie Gould’s first intimate night together. Lisa has decided she’s ready for this next step, and the lyrics mirror this decision while the upbeat drums and horns mirror her excitement: “Yes! We’re gonna fall in love, and it feels so right. Yes, we’re gonna make love; it’s gonna be tonight.”

Related: Catch yourself with this playlist of falling for someone songs.

You Don’t Own Me – The Blow Monkeys

Leslie Gore originally sang this song, but the version in Dirty Dancing by The Blow Monkeys is much more jazzy and gritty. The song plays during various conflicts between Baby and Johnny and Johnny and Robbie. In the actual movie, you can’t hear the song all that well, yet it is still effective at adding to the tension caused by the unmovable pride of these characters.

Related: Need to get away? Here are some escape songs.

Hey Baby – Bruce Channel

This harmonica-driven song sets the scene for a private dance lesson between Johnny and Baby. Many of their dance practices have been stressful, so Johnny takes Baby to a secluded place outdoors to have a more peaceful time. ‘Hey Baby’ is flirtatious and full of that honeymoon phase-type of love. It creates a sweet atmosphere for us to watch the couple fall for each other.

Related: Could it be true? Listen to our playlist of real love songs.

Overload – Zappacosta

On a drive to the countryside, Johnny and Baby try and take a step back from the arguments they’ve been having over their dancing. As they are in the car, ‘Overload’ by Zappacosta plays. Lyrics about burning for someone and wanting solely that person turn this rock track into a passionate love song—a love song that Baby desperately wants to apply to her and Johnny. For now, though, the relationship is strictly about the dance performance.

Related: When you can’t keep the peace, here are some songs about fights.

Love Is Strange – Mickey & Sylvia

Baby has newfound confidence after spending the night with Johnny, and she mocks him flirtatiously as they dance in the dance studio to ‘Love Is Strange’ by Mickey & Silvia. The pair are distracted from their dancing because of their attraction to each other and seductively act out the words of the song’s dialogue section to one another.

Related: Feeling good? Here are the best songs about being confident.

Where Are You Tonight – Tom Johnston

Love can be a consuming feeling, and we see the characters in Dirty Dancing experiencing that intensity of almost obsessive love. In ‘Where Are You Tonight’ by Tom Johnston, all the narrator can think about is where the person he loves is. He can’t sleep, and he can’t focus—all he can do is ask the moon and stars where this person is and imagine their face in front of him.

Related: Here is our playlist of songs with moon in the title.

(I’ll Remember) In the Still of the Night – The Five Satins

‘(I’ll Remember) In the Still of the Night’ by The Five Satins is an intimate bluesy song about promising to love someone forever. It plays as Johnny and Baby are in bed the night before their final performance. It seems Johnny is about ready for commitment as he tells Baby about his dream that her dad finally accepted him.

Related: Grab your lover and listen to the best songs about soulmates.

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes

‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ was written as the theme song for the movie and has undoubtedly become the most iconic song from the film. It’s the last song that Johnny and Baby dance to, and there’s an instrumental version performed by the John Morris Orchestra, as well. The song tells the love story of Johnny and Baby perfectly and it’s catchy, too!

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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