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words by Marcie H.
Let’s talk about John Hughes movie soundtracks… and how the character Jesse from Pitch Perfect gets it wrong. You know what I’m talking about. That’s right. I’ll say it. The Breakfast Club soundtrack is NOT one of the best soundtracked/scored movies of all time. It’s not even the best Johns Hughes movie soundtrack. Even the Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack is better than this monstrous collection of songs (with the exception of Simple Minds, of course). I understand the Pitch Perfect writers just wrote that in order to get the awesome “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” into their movie but seriously??? Okay, yes, it’s one of the BEST high school movies but one of the WORST high school movie soundtracks. Name another song from the soundtrack. Now name songs from Sixteen Candles. Sure the official 1984 Sixteen Candles LP only has five songs (and I kick myself to this day for not picking it up in the late-90s when it was $5 in the used bin) but think of the movie and songs in it as a whole.
The best John Hughes movie soundtrack and one of the best ever is that of Pretty in Pink (1986). Quick synopsis: working class girl, Andie, and rich boy, Blane, fall for each other and their respective friends throw down. The songs were carefully selected and some even specifically recorded to fit with the style and emotional longing of the movie, a solid example of new wave. How can you have Andie work in a record store and there not be amazing songs to go with it, right?
The LP itself starts with the heavy hitter, “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark, recorded for the movie and heard during the supposedly happy ending (yes, I’m a Duckie girl) where the bad guy gets told off, Andie gets the wimpy guy she wants, and Duckie finds some hope of love with an apparently dateless blonde. Psychedelic Furs fans may still be up in arms at the re-recorded version of “Pretty in Pink” (come on, the 1981 original is so much better) but it works. New Order’s “Shellshock” starts Side Two but their other instrumentals, which don’t make the cut here, “Elegia” and “Thieves Like Us,” highlight two very emotional moments in the film… when Andie confronts Blane about backing out of prom and then when she’s getting ready to go to prom by herself. Those scenes can’t be thought of without those songs. Other favorites include “Bring On The Dancing Horses” by Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.” That scene of Duckie in his room where “Please Please…” quietly plays still gets me. And why end the soundtrack on this song? Why not end it with the emotional high of OMD? Because Duckie, that’s why.
A good soundtrack will have songs that evoke memorable scenes from the movie, as I’ve just described, without cringing at the song itself. Does anyone listen to their Breakfast Club soundtrack repeatedly? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Stream the soundtrack here:
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