Badalamenti scored films such as Gordon’s War, and Law and Disorder, but his big break came when he was brought in to be Isabella Rossellini’s singing coach for the song "Blue Velvet" in David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. Inspired by This Mortal Coil’s recent cover of the Tim Buckley song Song of the Siren, Lynch had wanted Rossellini to sing her own version, but was unable to secure the rights. In its place, Badalamenti and Lynch collaborated to write "Mysteries of Love", using lyrics Lynch wrote and Badalamenti's music. Lynch asked Badalamenti to appear in the film as the piano player in the club where Rossellini's character performs. This film was the first of many projects they worked on together.
After scoring a variety of mainstream films, including A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, he scored Lynch's cult television show,
Other Lynch projects he worked on include the movies Wild at Heart,
He also conducted a performance during the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympics in