When thinking back to the 1980s, the first images that pop into many people’s minds are not necessarily from real life but from the screen – Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the cast of The Breakfast Club. All movies by the late, great filmmaker, John Hughes. Along with these images come their soundtracks, which were equally as integral in portraying the real lives of teenagers in the era of perms and letterman jackets.
Hughes recognized this power of music, citing Bob Dylan and John Lennon as heroes “because they each moved their particular medium forward, and when they got to the point where they were comfortable, they always moved on.” And just like Hughes, while these musicians moved on, they were not forgotten.
Here are some songs from John Hughes soundtracks that you might know (and facts about them that you probably didn’t):
The Breakfast Club – Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”
It’s hard to imagine Hughes’ The Breakfast Club without seeing John Bender walking across that football field at the end, pumping his first in the air to Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” It’s also hard to imagine that the Scottish New Wave band almost didn’t play the now-famous song co-written by producer Keith Forsey, after he asked the band to record it for the movie. Under the encouragement of their label A&M, however, the band rearranged and recorded the song in three hours, ironically forgetting about it afterward – until it became the band’s only number-one hit on the U.S. Top Rock Tracks chart. The synth pop song’s melancholy yet romantic longing for nostalgia fits perfectly in a movie about a brain, an athlete, a basketcase, a princess, and a criminal becoming unlikely friends after eight hours of detention.
Pretty in Pink – The Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink”
While “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was written for The Breakfast Club, “Pretty in Pink” actually inspired Hughes to write the movie of the same name after actress Molly Ringwald showed him the song. And like “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the song got the John Hughes bump and became the group’s biggest hit in the UK. But despite all its success, The Psychedelic Furs’ lead singer Richard Butler said that Hughes got the message of “Pretty in Pink” all wrong – the song’s lyrics are actually about an “easy” girl who looks pretty in “pink,” i.e. the color of naked skin. For better or for worse, most audiences didn’t recognize this contradiction.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off/Pretty in Pink – The Dream Academy/The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”
John Hughes loved this track so much that he included it in two of his movies, in two very different scenes. He uses The Dream Academy’s instrumental version in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off during the funny yet tranquil Art Institute of Chicago scene, where Ferris and his friends take refuge in the museum to observe, mimic, and at one point make out in front of famous works of art. The Smiths’ original song is also playing in Pretty in Pink as Duckie sadly flips cards into a hat in his room longing for what he really wants – his best friend Andie (Molly Ringwald). It’s a more than fitting song for the scene as the radio croons “Lord knows, it would be the first time.”
Check out VSQ Performs The Music from the Films of John Hughes
Available now at iTunes