Friday, August 7, 2009

Director John Hughes' impact on '80s music

When I heard that John Hughes had died yesterday, I immediately flashed back to high school. The soundtracks to several of the director/producer/screenwriter's films were an integral part of my teenage years.

In addition to having a knack for capturing what it was really like growing up (some of us totally identified with Jon Cryer's Duckie character in "Pretty in Pink") in the '80s, Hughes and his music supervisors also had a keen ear for what was then considered hip music to help move the stories along. It was something his peers in the movie industry often lacked.

Many musicians can thank him for propelling their careers.

Who can forget Simple Minds' chart topping "Don't You (Forget About Me)," from "The Breakfast Club"? Or Oingo Boingo's popular title track to "Weird Science"? I always dug the tunes from "Some Kind of Wonderful," with Flesh For Lulu's alt-rock hit "I Go Crazy," plus tracks by the JAMC and Buzzcock Pete Shelley.

Then there was the best of them all: "Pretty in Pink."

I remember seeing the movie at a neighborhood cinema one weekend, walking home and thinking about OMD's yearning "If You Leave" and the scene it played in. The Psych Furs' title track briefly put them on the mainstream pop music map. Add New Order's "Shellshock" and incidental music, the Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" and Echo & the Bunnymen's "Bring on the Dancing Horses" and you had a true classic.

Many of the so-called Brat Packers and other young actors in Hughes' 1980s films are still active in the movie/TV/theater world today: Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck and Anthony Michael Hall, to name a few.

What are your favorite songs from Hughes' movies?

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