Friday, August 07, 2009

John Hughes Music Quiz

John Hughes is being remembered for his intimate and accurate portrayal of teenagers in his films. He didn't pander to them, he put them in real life situations (ok, not sure if anyone has a Ferris Bueller day). His films are definitely time capsules of the 80's. John died of a heart attack this week while walking on the streets of NY. He retired from directing in 1991, but continued to write and produce (Flubber, Dennis the Menace, 101 Dalmatians, Reach the Rock).

John reshaped the idea of the movie soundtrack and music in movies. He made indie music an integral part of his films. His film Pretty In Pink was inspired by the Psychedelic Furs songs the same name. The Furs re-recorded the song for his film. The original is better.

Below are the titles of films that John either directed, wrote, produced or did all three. I bet you can name at least one song from each film and you probably sang it over and over again.

1. Sixteen Candles
2. The Breakfast Club
3. Weird Science
4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
5. Pretty In Pink
6. She's Having a Baby

1. The Sixteen Candles soundtrack was a who’s who of one hit 80’s wonder artists. They didn’t necessarily have a hit with the song on this soundtrack, but it probably opened a few ears. This soundtrack is all over the dial musically, but more than half the music was by relatively obscure artists.

Altered Images- Happy Birthday
Kajagoogoo- Sixteen Candles (remember them Too Shy?)
Paul Young – Love of the Common People
Spandau Ballet – True
Oingo Boingo –Wild Sex In the Working Class (They were massively popular in LA would wind up in other John Hughes Films. See #3. Danny Elfman from the band would become one of the leading film scorers in Hollywood)
Nick Heyward – Whistle Down the Wind (Nick fronted the band Haircut 100)
The Divinyls – Ring Me Up (Later on they had a big hit with I Touch Myself)
The Vapors – Turning Japanese
There was also music from David Bowie, Billy Idol, Darlene Love and the Thompson Twins to name a few.

2. Don’t You (Forget About Me), put Simple Minds on the map in the US. It may have been their greatest moment and their albatross as it’s probably all they are remembered for. My first introduction to them was probably the song Promised You A Miracle. Don’t You was written by Keith Forsey, who also produced the track. Rumor has it that Forsey originally offered the song to Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol. I would love to hear their takes on the song. They did have two other semi-hits in the States after that, Alive & Kicking and Sanctify Yourself. The only other known musicians from this soundtrack are Wang Chung. Oddly enough for a soundtrack with only one hit on it, it spent 104 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 and reach a chart position of 17.

3. Weird Science. The title track was performed by Oingo Boingo. See #1. Once again, this 1985 album featured the more obscure musicians of that time, although they would have hits other than on this soundtrack: Kim Wilde, OMD (Tesla Girls), The Del Fuegos, and General Public (Tenderness) to name a few. This album surprisingly did not chart.

4. There was no official soundtrack to Ferris Bueller,but once again, music was prominent. There was the return of General Public (Taking the Day Off) as well as an English Beat remix, The March of the Swivelheads (both bands shared members Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger). Also heard in the movie were Danke Schoen by Wayne Newton, The Dream Academy covering The Smiths Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, Big Audio Dynamite and the Beatles Twist and Shout.

5. Pretty In Pink was the granddaddy of John Hughes soundtracks. It had the most charted songs including the Psychedelic Furs re-record of the title track, which was the inspiration for the movie. If You Leave by OMD went as high at #4 on the singles chart and Shell Shocked by New Order made the dance charts.

6. She’s Having A Baby had no hits, did chart at #92, but once again another configuration of the English Beat appears. It’s Dave Wakeling soloing on the title track. Another Smith’s song is covered, this time by Kristy MacColl. XTC and Gene Love Jezebel also contributed.

John Hughes films have a place in my heart and ears.

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