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Soundtrack review: Rocky (Bill Conti – 1976)

Composer of the month Franchises The expendables month

Soundtrack review: Rocky (Bill Conti – 1976)


I’m going to go ahead and say it: Rocky is the best “people’s hero” ever created. His legend has grown so much that he’s not just part of pop culture; he’s part of American history. He has a statue in Philadelphia; those steps he fictionally climbed in the movie are now a place of pilgrimage, and I think he has motivated and inspired more people than most of the living sports personalities. His rags to riches story is emotional, honest, motivational, believable and easy to connect to, and for these reasons I will always name Sylvester Stallone as one of my favorite actors and film makers. Thank you for creating this icon! This is “The expendables month” and since Sly created that franchise as well, he’ll get the biggest exposure this February.

I have to refrain myself from talking about the first movie and what it means to me, because we could be here all night. I’ll focus on Bill Conti’s immortal music for “Rocky” instead…Oops, me might end up staying as late for this one too…How about I just talk about “Gonna fly now”, the Rocky theme? That might just work…I don’t think there’s any one of you who hasn’t heard it, hummed it, dreamed it or used it to pick himself or herself up. The fanfare…the backing vocals which provide that extra push you need to get up, sounding like the voice inside your head which tells you to fly…the instrumentation which is pure adrenaline through your blood stream….you grow wings when you hear this theme, your heart pumps blood twice as fast through your body and feel invincible. It’s that simple. Two minutes of bliss, two minutes worth 6 stars and this theme is the definition of a 6 star track in a 1 to 5 star world. If I am running and this cue comes up in the playlist (and yes, it does come out pretty often along with Vince di Cola’s themes for Rocky IV) I feel like my legs suddenly turn into horse’s legs and I can run ten times faster and I will never stop…

The motivational fanfare goodness continues throughout the score…”Fanfare for Rocky”, “Butkus”, “The final bell” and “Rocky’s reward” bring waves of nostalgia above me and I embrace them with passion. They are the most triumphant cues I’ve heard and I feel like jumping, cheering and hugging when I hear them.

A legend like Rocky has a theme to match and it should be right there with his statue…Listen to this once again, in case there’s a remote change it might have slipped from your mind…

What are your Rocky memories?

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 32

Album excellence: 74%


Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)

Philadelphia Morning

Going The Distance


First Date

Fanfare For Rocky


Alone In The Ring

The Final Bell

Rocky’s Reward

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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