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Will Smith In 'Men In Black'

Source: Archive Photos / Getty

News surrounding the upcoming release of Marvel’s highly-anticipated Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever, just continues to get better and better as the film’s premiere date nears.

Adding even more excitement to the project, pop icon Rihanna has decided to use the film’s soundtrack as her official launch back into music as she gears up for a new album and Super Bowl Halftime Show performance in 2023.

RELATED: The Best Black Movie Soundtracks Of All Time

Not much is known about the song, which is officially titled “Lift Me Up,” but humming that can be heard faintly in the seconds-long preview Rih posted to social media earlier today (seen above) alludes to it being a powerful pop ballad. We’ll wait to hear the full version when it drops this Friday (October 28), but the cause for conversation put us in the mind of the days when soundtrack songs dominated the charts.

Just a few decades ago, music made for movies would regularly top the Billboard Hot 100 and go on to become one of the biggest songs of its release year. The science of a catchy song being heard in a globally-featured film is one of the most classic money-making moves in the music industry. The recent decline in CD sales and box office attendance has made an effect on the success rate of soundtrack singles, but the synergy between music and movies hasn’t faltered completely as we can see with artists like Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and the aforementioned “Umbrella” hitmaker.

To remind the world just how important the soundtrack is when it comes to movie production, we looked back on 25 of the greatest movie songs, year by year, for the past two-and-a-half decades.

Starting in 1997 and ending in 2021, take a look at 25 of the best soundtrack songs to release over the past 25 years:

1. “Men In Black” – Will Smith, ‘Men In Black’ (1997)

Just slide with us, just slide!

2. “Are You That Somebody?” – Aaliyah, ‘Dr. Doolittle’ (1998)

One of Baby Girl’s finest! She changed the whole vibe of the ’90s with this one.

3. “Fortunate” – Maxwell, ‘Life’ (1999)

Who knew a song written for a movie about two buddies escaping from prison would become a soul classic?

4. “Independent Women, Pt. 1” – Destiny’s Child, ‘Charlies Angels’ (2000)

Influenced a generation of mamas profiting dollars.

5. “Lady Marmalade” – Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink, Mya & Missy Elliott, ‘Moulin Rouge’ (2001)

In a pre-“WAP” era of music, crafting up a Billboard hit in America using sexual French innuendo proved to be the ultimate flex.

6. “Lose Yourself” – Eminem, ‘8 Mile’ (2002)

Em deserved every award he received for this, both the song and his performance in the film.

7. “Shake Ya Tailfeather” –  Diddy, Nelly & Murphy Lee, ‘Bad Boys II’ (2003)

A song that will instantly put you in the mind of summer.

8. “Million Voices” – Wyclef Jean, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ (2004)

Wyclef is a real one for doing this alongside a choir of African children.

9. “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”- Three 6 Mafia, ‘Hustle & Flow’ (2005)

We had to include the clip from their epic “Best Original Song” Oscar win.

10. “(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me” – Sean Paul & Keyshia Cole, ‘Step Up’ (2006)

The 2000s reggae fusion era can be summed up in a nutshell with this hip-whining collab.

11. “Less Than An Hour”- Nas & Cee-Lo, ‘Rush Hour 3’ (2007)

A deep cut from the soundtrack to a trilogy film that we’re sure many wish they enjoyed more.

12. “Paper Planes” – M.I.A., ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2008)

Shoutout to everyone who always does air guns during the chorus.

13. “Forever” – Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem, ‘More Than a Game’ (2009)

The rap collab that at the time no one knew would become one of the biggest of the decade. 

14. “Four Women” – Nina Simone, Lisa Simone, Laura Izibor & Ledisi, ‘For Colored Girls’ (2010)

Peep the soundtrack to hear the full version of this powerful collab that’s heard throughout the official trailer.

15. “Let Me Take You To Rio” – Ester Dean & Carlinhos Brown, ‘Rio’ (2011)

A song you can’t help but dance along to when the film starts.

16. “Skyfall” – Adele, ‘Skyfall’ (2012)

If only Adele had an actual cameo in this now-classic 007 film!

17. “Happy” – Pharrell, ‘Despicable Me 2’ (2013)

He may hate the song himself now, but it doesn’t change the fact that “Happy” had a hold on all of us in 2013 and 2014.

18. “Glory” – Common & John Legend, ‘Selma’ (2014)

A song made for a special occasion with an even more powerful message in the lyrics.

19. “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth, ‘Furious 7’ (2015)

The death of Paul Walker is forever immortalized in this song, which acts as both a sweet-yet-somber ballad and ode to a real-life fallen homie.

20. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – Justin Timberlake, ‘Trolls’ (2016)

Back when JT wasn’t enemy no.1 for Janet fans, he was still a beloved pop king that could even make a troll want to dance. 

21. “Mighty River” – Mary J. Blige, ‘Mudbound’ (2017)

Queen Mary’s transition into Oscar buzz territory peaked with this soundtrack single that assisted her Academy Award-nominated performance in the film of the same name. 

22. “All the Stars” – Kendrick Lamar & SZA, ‘Black Panther’ (2018)

K. Dot created a modern day classic with this one, and SZA on the chorus matches the orchestra-driven instrumental with perfect precision.

23. “Spirit” – Beyoncé, ‘The Lion King’ (2019)

King Bey’s entire involvement in The Lion King reboot, from voice acting in a lead role to releasing the musical companion film BLACK IS KING on Disney+, further proved why she’s been the number one diva in this game for a minute. 

24. “RITMO (Bad Boys For Life)” – Black Eyed Peas & J Balvin, ‘Bad Boys For Life’ (2020)

The current wave of popularity in Latin pop can be seen as a direct reflection of why this was such a big hit, in addition to many just really excited to get another Bad Boys film.

25. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” – Lin-Manuel Miranda & Cast of ‘Encanto’ (2021)

Admit it: you’re still singing along to this!