Chariots of Fire

Composed by Vangelis

Song Review by

The fact that Vangelis took "Chariots of Fire" to number one may be the least relevant statistic about the track, considering the prominence it has gained since its appearance in the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. Actually, Vangelis wrote the entire Oscar-winning score to the movie, and the track itself was utilized worldwide in promoting sporting events and has also been used in numerous television commercials throughout the 1980s. As a member of the late-'60s progressive rock group Aphrodite's Child, Vangelis (who shortened his name from Evangelos Papathanassiou) moved from creating stark, hard-lined rock to composing varied styles of pop, jazz, and even classically styled electronic music, and at one time his virtuosity was rumored to enhance Yes' repertoire in place of Rick Wakeman. Throughout the '70s, Vangelis made numerous albums that focused on atmosphere and well-crafted electronic melanges which, more often than not, pertained to a certain theme or concept. As the '80s approached, he teamed up with Yes vocalist Jon Anderson for a few albums, but, in 1982, his commercial breakthrough finally peaked with "Chariots of Fire." "Chariots of Fire" is a classically oriented piece yet it's orchestrated with a modern feel. The gentle tempo that's constructed by the soft, enchanting keyboard notes superbly conveys the movie's touching portrayal of the human will and spirit, while the background effects keep perfect time with a runner's jog. Graceful and exquisite, the subtle melody is both haunting and peaceful at the same time, and the entire piece as a whole is one of most hummable of any movie theme song ever created. The track instantly became synonymous with perseverance, accomplishment, and the power to endure both physically and spiritually. But even without its relation to the movie, "Chariots of Fire" is powerful, emotive, and stimulating, teaming Vangelis' masterful compositional skills with his adeptness at playing dynamic and forceful musical pastiches. Vangelis continued his production of scores throughout the rest of the decade and into the next, creating passionate but effective pieces for movies such as Missing, Blade Runner, and 1492, but none of these productions matched the universal celebrity attained by that of "Chariots of Fire."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Chariots of Fire [Original Score] 1982 Interscope / Polydor / Universal Motown 20:41
Themes 1989 Polydor / Universal 3:31
The Music of Vangelis 1991 Time Music International Limited / Time Music 3:45
Synthesizer Greatest Gold 1992
Various Artists
Arcade Music 8:23
#1 Hits: 1980-1984 1994
Various Artists
GNP/Crescendo 3:33
No Image 1994
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Varig Collection: Movie Theme Songs, Vol. 1 1994
Various Artists
Perfect Pitch Marketing
Moods [Alex] 1995
Various Artists
Alex 3:29
The Best New Age, Vol. 1 [Priority] 1995
Various Artists
Priority Records
Portraits (So Long Ago, So Clear) 1997 Motown 3:23
Pure Moods, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Virgin 3:31
Most Relaxing Album in the World Ever 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:29
De Pre Historie: De Jaren 80, Vol. 2 (1982) 1998
Various Artists
Eva 3:21
Mystera, Vol. 3 1999
Various Artists
Polystar 3:30
Now: 1981 1999
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 3:31
Moods Box Set 1999
Various Artists
Virgin 3:31
No Stress 1999
Various Artists
CMC Records 3:26
Aquaria 2000
Various Artists
Polystar 3:32
Odyssey: The Definitive Collection 2003 Universal
Mystic Spirits, Vol. 7 2005
Various Artists
ZYX Music
20 to 1: One Hit Wonders 2009
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:23
Chariots of Fire: Music from the Stage Show 2012 Decca / Universal 3:29
The Collection [Rhino] 2012 Rhino 3:29
Moods [Universal] 2014
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 3:28
Delectus: The Polydor & Vertigo Recordings - 1973-1985 2016 Polydor / Universal 20:40
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