If there was one writer/director who summed up American lives perfectly, that would be John Hughes. His films dealt with the pains of fitting in, having your family on your back and themes of loss. All of this was done with fantastic music. I have attempted to rank the best soundtracks to some of John Hughes’ most iconic films. The songs taken into consideration are the songs played in the movie, not just the ones that appear on the soundtrack.
6. Some Kind of Wonderful – ‘This is 1987. Did you a girl can be whatever she wants to be?’
This was one of Hughes’ last teen movies of the 80s and it has a noticeably more mature feeling than the rest of the films on this list. The music is more somber and grown-up than previous ventures. The storyline even features a one of the main characters as a musician, showing Hughes’ love music in the story line. Tracks like celtic London band Lick the Tin’s cover ‘I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You’ is a sweet and joyous track that sums up this ‘wrong side of the tracks’ love story. The true gem of the entire film is Flesh For Lulu’s ‘I Go Crazy.’
5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – ‘Sooner or later, everyone goes to the zoo.’
Everyone needs a friend like Ferris. The cool one that always has your back and makes you do the most ridiculous things (you’ll listen every time, no matter how much you say you hate him). Oh and he has the most killer taste in music. Bueller’s room was decorated with posters of Cabaret Voltaire, Simple Minds and Killing Joke. Like a cool friend would, there is no official soundtrack for the film. But there was everything from The Beatles ‘Twist and Shout’ to the wonderfully cheesy ‘Danke Schoen’ sung by Wayne Newton (and Broderick in the shower) to the hidden indie tracks like the Flowerpot Men’s ‘Beat City.’ Of course one can’t talk about Ferris Bueller’s Day off without mentioning Yellow’s fairly silly but loveable ‘Oh Yeah.’
4. Breakfast Club – ‘Does Barry Manilow know that you raided his wardrobe?’
This is possibly the film with the best known theme from any of Hughes’ films. ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ is an 80s standard. Although . Breakfast Club is best when quiet. The dialog is so important in this film that music is rarely used, and often just to highlight the heightening of feeling like when Bender loses it after discussing his family life, running in the halls from Mr. Vernon to ‘Fire in the Twilight’ or the wonderful dance montage to Karla De Vito’s ‘We Are Not Alone.’ It is so of its time that it sounds dated, but it still feels right.
3. Sixteen Candles – ‘I mean, I’ve had men who’ve loved me before, but not for six months in a row.’
Going off the sweet humor of Weird Science is Sixteen Candles, the tracks for this film are a mix of soft love songs paired with wacky tunes. The original soundtrack was only five songs long, but there are actually loads of songs used. What’s most important in the film is the airy Thompson Twins’ ‘If You Were Here.’ The song is so achingly 80s, but in the film Hughes’ pairs it with the right moment that it really does remind you of young love. It’s one of the most effective uses of music in any of his films.
2. Weird Science – ‘Gary? By the way, why are we wearing bras on our heads?’
A movie so deliciously goofy deserves an equally quirky soundtrack. Bands like Wall of Voodoo and Los Lobos make up a delightful mix of ‘boy songs’ and literal ‘Tenderness.’ Having Oingo Boingo do the title track was a match made in computer science heaven. Even making the choice of Kim Wilde’s ‘Turn it On’ was a well-thought choice. The boys would probably kill to have her around as a friend for computer-made Lisa.
1. Pretty in Pink – ‘His name is Blane? Oh! That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!’
The star in Hughes’ films is a personal favourite of mine. Main girl Andie Walsh spends her days working in a record shop with the eccentric Iona. She juggles her friendship with Duckie while falling for posh-o boy Blane. All this happens while listening to a delectable palate of tunes. The film is filled with gorgeous bits of Echo & the Bunnymen, New Order, and Suzanne Vega. Teenage lovers’ angst has never sounded better. The most memorable scenes are set to music. Duckie slides into the Trax to Otis Redding’s ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ for one of the best dance scenes in movie history. Andie and Iona enjoy a sweet dance together to the Associations’ ‘Cherish’ while reminiscing about youth. There are also some great ‘live gig’ shots in the film with bands like Talk Back. Plus, has there ever been a prom song that is more memorable than OMD’s ‘If You Leave’?