Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink soundtrack still hits the right notes 30 years later

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John Hughes’s classic Pretty in Pink turned 30 on February 28th. That’s 30 years of one boy dancing in a record store, another boy named Blaine (like an appliance), movie history’s worst prom dress and some of the most classic tunes ever tacked onto an 80s soundtrack. As we toast in celebration to the classic 80s movie, it’s also a time to reminisce about that perfect soundtrack.

Hughes loves to have an iconic song to close out his films. Simple Minds in The Breakfast Club with “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, Sam and Jake sharing a kiss in Sixteen Candles to the Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here” and, of course, OMD’s “If You Leave” filling the final dance scene in Pretty in Pink. The strings in OMD’s single are instantly recognisable, and so synonymous with the film it was written for.

And, of course, there’s that opening tune:

The original single “Pretty in Pink” preceded the film by nearly five years, first appearing on Psychedelic Furs’ second album Talk, Talk, Talk. Though the soundtrack would feature a much different version, fairing much better in the charts with a movie being named after it. It would help create one of the best opening montages of the 80s. And really, getting-ready montages are one of the best things about 80s movies. 

But Pretty in Pink lives on beyond its two best-known tracks. The well-constructed soundtrack includes some of the biggest names of new wave and indie of the time like The Smiths, New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen. Even still there are more subtle songs to enjoy like Suzanne Vega’s song with Joe Jackson, “Left of Center”. John Hughes fingerprints are all over it, despite director Howard Deutch originally wanting to include more theme music.

Imagine a movie about a girl who works in a record store not having a killer soundtrack.

These songs not only work within the realm of the film, but it plays like a soundtrack hand-picked by Andie Walsh herself. It’s easy to feel Duckie’s heartbreak in “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” or the pain felt in everyone in the love-triangle in Belouis Some’s “Round, Round”.

Though this soundtrack is lovely in each of its tracks, it’s safe to say the movie is truly made complete with the songs that are not included: Talk Back’s “Rudy” serves as some of the coolest “live” act music included in any movie, Andie’s dance with Iona is absolutely touching while The Association’s “Cherish” plays airily around them, and last but certainly not least is Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” playing during Jon Cryer’s lip syncing scene in TRAX.

Pretty in Pink is such a wonderful film worth celebrating on its own. It is truly a story about teenagers having to make some of their first tough decisions, and facing the stereotypes that the world will love to place on them. But it’s also a movie about finding your self-worth. And every song there will help you find your way.

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Vinyl Friday #5: “Pretty in Pink: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

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From the opening drums on “If You Leave” to the closing trembles of the mandolin on “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” the soundtrack for Pretty in Pink is front to back everything I love.

There’s something to be said for a record you can share your soul with. I know that’s a statement most people wouldn’t allow for a compilation soundtrack, but many of John Hughes’ soundtracks were different than most. Each was like a love letter to his movies and characters that could be shared with fans.

As a teenager, I deeply related to Andie Walsh. Not the whole “being torn between two men” thing (because let’s face it, I was no Molly Ringwald when I was 17), but the sort of inability to fit in knowing you were destined for something better. As the Suzanne Vega song says, “f you want me you can find me / Left of center off of the strip / In the outskirts and in the fringes / In the corner out of the grip.” It takes an outsider to know one. Plus she worked at an ultra-cool record store.

Still my dream job.

In 2012, there was a special Record Store Day release that was numbered and came on a bright pink vinyl. It’s super lovely, but unfortunately this isn’t it. I do have some comfort in knowing that if I was a teenager in 1984, I would still be buying this copy. This specific copy was found in an antique mall – just peering from the stacks waiting for me to pick it up. I had been a massive fan of the movie and its soundtrack and knew we belonged together.

And Jon Cryer’s Duckie remains to be the ultimate in cool/’we’re pretending he’s actually a dork.’ I know I’m married and everything, but this character still remains one of my biggest crushes. As I watched this movie growing up, I knew I needed to be with someone who loved Otis Redding as much as I did. Found him.

Anyway, I mean just watch this clip of Cryer reviving his classic character on this week’s Late Late Show. He’s still just as cool:

The soundtrack is full of what are now considered many of 80s alternative staples like OMD, The Smiths, New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen. But in 1986, not many of these bands were massive names in the States. John knew what songs would help create the character of the music-obsessed Andie: all the must-haves with the carefully selected odd track by fringe bands like Belouis Some.

This particular record holds such a part in my heart. Even though I’ve grown a bit older, this still sounds how it feels to be…me.

I was definitely born in the wrong era.

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Ranking John Hughes’ soundtracks

theclubIf 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.’

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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’?