In 1986, I was eight years old and stuck pretty deeply in my own fantasy world, which I’d come to later be told were the early symptoms of a lifetime of chronic depression — but that shit’s for another day. The core of my world were the Transformers cartoon and comic universe, much like a lot of kids my age, and when they announced a full-length feature film, you bet your ass I was on my mom like flies on shit to take me to see it. It was everything my young mind could possibly want: epic, violent, introduced a bunch of new toys, emotionally stirring, and most of all, it had a killer soundtrack (it was the '80s, after all). Fast forward a few decades and therapists, and I still have a deep love for the original generation of cartoons and comics, but has the soundtrack aged as poorly as I have? CLRVYNT asked me to find out and give a track-by-track breakdown to what was arguably the most important soundtrack of my life (sorry, Singles).

1. “The Touch” Stan Bush
I have no idea why this song leads off the soundtrack — the rest of it seems to be somewhat chronological, and this doesn't appear until like 30 minutes into the movie. A lot of people only know this song because Marky Mark sings it in Boogie Nights a bit before he takes out his fake dick, and having this song first would be like having said fake dick in the opening credits. It messes up the flow. As a child, I always related more to the Decepticons, and this song is used to show the defeat of both incarnations of Megatron, so I never really dug it. Listening to it now, it comes off as a crappy power ballad that, if it weren’t in an extended toy commercial, would have fit nicely in MTV’s Top 20 Countdown until UB40 or some other bullshit knocked it out. C-

2. “Instruments of Destruction” NRG
This song is playing during my first real introduction to watching characters you care about die. It’s the only thing I’ve heard by this band, who fit nicely with Ratt and other “harder” hair bands of the day. Still a fucking wicked song, and infinitely more listenable than Britny Fox. This song made me feel like a badass when I was 8 years old, and at 38 (Christ), if someone told me they did a full record like this, I’d be all about it. A+

3. “The Death of Optimus Prime” Vince DiCola
I mean, this isn’t a well-kept secret, but Jesus fucking Christ, I hate it when soundtracks spoil shit with track names like this. Whoever is in marketing and does this kind of thing should be fucking fired. Oh yeah, the song sounds like John Tesh. Wait, no it doesn’t; I clicked on something called “artistic transformations,” which I guess is interpretations of the soundtrack, but they just come off sounding like a porn where the actor is only half hard. The original is more like Enya, I guess. Original: B- Redux: D

4. “Dare” Stan Bush
If you’re a fan of the movie, then the order of this soundtrack probably drives you nuts. But unlike “The Touch,” this is more of a rocker, which is meant to make you stoked for the introduction of the new lineup of Autobots that just popped up in between seasons. Cheesy, but it also begins the most brutal parts of the movie and is a pretty good bridge between lighthearted and 30 of your favorite characters getting killed. B+

5. “Nothin’s Gonna Stand in Our Way” Spectre General
Here’s some trivia for the next time you’re trying to get your Tinder date to sleep with you: Did you know that Spectre General’s actual name was Kick Axe, and they only used this name for the movie? Yeah, I didn’t give a shit either. C-

6. “The Transformers (theme)” Lion
WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T THIS START OFF THE SOUNDTRACK? Also, this is the best '80s redux of a cartoon theme song for a movie. I never understood why they didn’t use it for the final season of the cartoon, but they fucked a lot of that up here anyway. This is in line with Dokken’s “Dream Warriors” for best title track for a soundtrack. Still gets me psyched, and I have very little to smile about most days. A+

7. “Escape” Vince DiCola
At least this time I didn’t click on the artistic reimagining or whatever mistake I made earlier. Sounds like a shitty Christmas special. C+

8. “Hunger” Spectre General
The best part of this is all the YouTube links say “A.K.A. KICK AXE,” because I guess someone thinks that name is clever. This is a much better song than the other that appeared earlier in the soundtrack — basically a farm team “Cum on Feel the Noize” if it had motivational lyrics like “Eye of the Tiger” — but this scene had the Dinobots in it, and a lot of the film’s version of Stormtroopers (the Sharkticons) showing how disposable they are by dying by the dozen, which, in my older cynical years, seems to me like they wanted you to buy multiple figures of the toy since they had no real personality. The tail whip they had as a weapon sucked, and I lost mine probably five minutes into the Christmas morning I got one. B

9. “Autobot / Decepticon Battle” Vince DiCola
Jesus Christ, this is the most unimaginative song title possible. At this point, why even try? This is the kind of shit that causes marriages to fail. Anyway, besides the title being crap and this being at the ass-end of the soundtrack, it’s probably my favorite song on here to this day, because it’s used all over the battle scenes in Autobot City, which were (at the time) the most badass things I’d ever seen, beating out the Death Star battles and Hypercolor shirts. It really fits the frantic mood of the scene, and somehow doesn’t sound dated now. I know everyone has erotic feelings for synthwave, but this beats most of that out because those artists don’t have exploding robots. A+

10. “Dare to Be Stupid” "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" is as funny to me as a baby’s funeral. F

I came prepared to bitch that my original vinyl version doesn’t have some songs I thought were mandatory, like Unicron’s theme or further parts of the Battle for Autobot City, but apparently this got reissued in 2007 while I was off jerking off to Lifelover or something, and I missed it. Here’s the bonus tracks I’ve never heard isolated, so we’re learning this together:

11. “Unicron Medley” Vince DiCola
Some people think it’s sad that Orson Welles' final performances were on a Manowar album, a Paul Masson commercial and Transformers: The Movie. I say fuck those people. Fighting the World is the best Manowar; Paul Masson isn’t as good as E&J, but still good if you want to get fucked up on a budget; and Unicron is probably the greatest embodiment of evil in a cinematic context. A+

12. “Moon Base 2 / Shuttle Launch” Vince DiCola
Jesus, these titles are total afterthoughts. Anyway, this is notable because it’s the best Decepticon villains all together for one last time. Also, synthwave heads would probably buy neon sunglasses to this. A-

13. “Megatron Must Be Stopped” Vince DiCola
I’m running out of ways to bag on them for obvious titles, but anyone who didn’t think Devastator was the most terrifying thing in this movie has no heart. This is basically a slower version of the battle song from earlier, but more desperate and more shit is dying. They show fucking corpses in the movie! You know how badly that fucked me up? Not as bad as my dad’s drinking, but this was a close second. A-

14. “Transformers Theme: Alternate Version” Vince DiCola / Stan Bush
This is like having the perfect four-course meal, and then someone brings you a log of shit with a candle in it. They really fucked this song up, and if this was in the actual movie, I’d probably be writing about G.I. Joe now instead. Stan does that shit where, on the final verse, he pushes up an octave, which is already two beyond his singing range. F

So, for the most part, this soundtrack holds up. It’s for sure head and shoulders above what they turned this once-beloved toy franchise into. It’s the only cartoon movie I can think of that has a soundtrack so beloved by its fans, a soundtrack that helped define the movie itself. And while some of it has aged like a jizz sock you forgot about, other parts really are as strong as when they were released, and still manage to make me smile, which I suppose speaks to the quality of brainwashing that toy companies performed in the wonderful 1980s.