The Star Wars movies feature some of the most iconic scores in cinematic history. Even people who’ve never watched the films (and, yes, they actually exist) will recognize the main cues.
Sure, they might not be able to tell you which scenes they fit or why they’re important, but they’ll know it’s Star Wars.
For fans, though, nothing takes you back to the thrill of watching your favorite Star Wars moments like hearing a particular piece of music from the franchise.
Star Wars’ music is as crucial to the movies as the actors, the special effects and the creature designs: you just can’t imagine them without it. It deserves to be celebrated — and that’s exactly why we’ve decided to take an epic look at 10 of the best Star Wars music tracks below!
Main Title (All Numbered Episodes)
This IS Star Wars.
The vast majority of people, in countries across the globe, know this music when they hear it. You can’t help but picture the title (in that unmistakable yellow-and-black font) zooming into the distance, followed by the introductory text crawling its way up the screen.
Main Title’ pulls you into each of the numbered Star Wars movies and stirs feelings of excitement, adventure and (for many of us) intense nostalgia. John Williams has composed a lot of fantastic scores for beloved series (Indiana Jones, Harry Potter — you name it), but ‘Main Title’ remains some of his best work.
Duel of the Fates (Episode I: The Phantom Menace)
We all know Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace got a few things wrong — but it also got some right. Especially this unforgettable piece of music.
John Williams’ work here is incredible, capturing the sense of epic grandeur and urgency in the climactic battle between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the sneering Darth Maul. Watching the two Jedi struggle to bring down this new enemy never gets old, and that’s thanks in large part to Duel of the Gates.
The choir, layered strings and fluctuating tempo all combine beautifully, making Duel of the Fates one of the saga’s stand-out tracks.
Emperor’s Throne Room (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)
‘Emperor’s Throne Room’ is a dark, somber, intimidating music track, and the perfect accompaniment to the scene in which Luke Skywalker finally comes face to face with the Emperor himself.
It’s a major moment in the Original Trilogy (and the saga as a whole) and lets Luke see just who’s been pulling the strings of the Empire’s machinations all along.
‘Emperor’s Throne Room’ has a real sense of creeping menace and ominous darkness, which is why it’s so perfect for the bleakest point of the film: Luke discovers the Rebels’ plan to bring down the shield generator on Endor isn’t as secret as they thought.
The Imperial March (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)
Darth Vader should inspire dread in everyone else on-screen when he appears, not to mention the audience. And ‘The Imperial March’ helps him do just that.
Williams surely had no way of knowing just how important this track would become not just to the character, but to the entire saga itself, when he created it. Regardless, it’s an essential piece of Star Wars music, filled with real drive and purpose — just like Vader himself.
Williams creates a beautiful callback to it in Return of the Jedi too, when Vader dies after his redemption. The notes are far softer and slower, marking the end of both the man and his connection to the Dark Side.
Hope (Rogue One)
ohn Williams is the brainchild of much of the saga’s soundtrack, though others have delved into it for the solo movies too. Michael Giacchino’s work on Rogue One was particularly amazing, capturing the Star Wars feel while still creating a unique sound.
‘Hope’ comes in one of Rogue One’s most exhilarating, powerful and unforgettable scenes. It manages to capture the full horror and brutality of Darth Vader’s assault on the Rebels as he attempts to retrieve the stolen Death Star plans.
The scene is brilliantly shot, directed and performed — it helped to make Vader genuinely scary again, and ‘Hope’ punctuates the action perfectly.
Across the Stars (Episode II: Attack of the Clones)
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones may not be jam-packed with classic moments, but ‘Across the Stars’ is easily one of its finest aspects.
This is John Williams at the height of his powers again: it’s romantic, it’s complex, it’s melancholic. For all the ground battles and lightsaber duels, Attack of the Clones had a story of forbidden love at its heart, and ‘Across the Stars’ conveys that brilliantly.
The Emperor’s Death (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)
‘The Emperor’s Death’ accompanies one of the most powerful and important scenes in the franchise: Darth Vader’s redemption.
His decision to turn his back on the Dark Side and kill the Emperor, the man who helped him discover his full power but also destroyed him in the process, isn’t an easy one. ‘The Emperor’s Death’ progresses from hopelessness to triumph, matching Vader’s journey from the Dark into the Light.
It’s a masterpiece. Nuff said.
Battle of the Heroes (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith)
While the climactic showdown between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi might not feature some of the strongest dialogue ever written, there’s no denying its score is outstanding.
John Williams packs a huge amount into this music track, filling it with ominous choir vocals, immense beats and a real epic flair. It helps to make the action on-screen even more dramatic and pivotal, making sure the Prequel Trilogy goes out on a high note.
Rey’s Theme (Episode VII: The Force Awakens)
Rey is definitely one of the best aspects of The Force Awakens, and John Williams’ ‘Rey’s Theme’ is a terrific track.
It reuses notes from ‘The Scavenger’, which plays during the first scene in which Rey appears, as she explores the ruins of Jakku. But whereas that introduced us to a girl scraping by and living amongst relics, Rey’s Theme charts Rey’s growth into a brave, strong Jedi-to-be.
Cantina Band (Episode IV: A New Hope)
Cantina Band is a fun little Star Wars music track that plays a small part in A New Hope, but is hard to get out of your head.
It’s upbeat, jazzy and genuinely makes you want to dance along. Sure, it might not be quite as epic or dramatic as some of the other iconic Star Wars music tracks, but it truly does sound exotic and alien. It’s not hard to imagine yourself in a galaxy far, far away, supping blue milk, when you hear it.
And, of course, anyone who played 2005’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (a game that still receives updates!) will remember hearing this on the Mos Eisley heroes-versus-villains map.
Well, that’s the end of our look at 10 of the best Star Wars music tracks ever made! Would you change the order of these at all? Would you add any different pieces?
Let us know!