These go to 11: The best songs from the best movies of the 1980sBy Michael Behrenhausen | September 21st, 2011 | 1 Comment »
I love the 80s! Oh wait, that’s not trademarked or anything is it? Anyway, as a teenager at the time it was hard not to be bombarded with pop music and the culture that went along with it. It was the true beginning of the information age and short attention spans (thanks MTV!). As such, pop rattled around our little brains until it eventually saturated our outlook to leave us hazily gazing upon the real world with day glo-colored glasses.
Admittedly, a lot of it was really fun. And some of the best moments were on the silver screen. It was the time for brat packs, psychotic slashers and bafflingly bad action heroes. And, it seems we’re all nostalgic for it now — even if we weren’t born at the time.
So, in honor of the Psychedelic Furs appearance at Summit Music Hall this evening (we’re guessing they’ll play “Pretty in Pink”) we present a list of 11 of our favorite songs featured in films from the 1980s. Chick. Chick-ah Chick-ahhhh.
11. “Oh Yeah” by Yello – Swiss band Yello released this odd tune — a mix of vocal effects and digital percussion — as a single in 1985. But it wasn’t until the next year when John Hughes used it in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” to accent true desire (for a car or really anything or anyone supercool … or superhot) that it found its true calling.
10. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. – This super catchy title tune may not be high art, but following the film’s release in 1984 it was heard everywhere. To this day it’s one of the most fun film/song combos ever.
9. “Weird Science” by Oingo Boingo – Before Danny Elfman became Tim Burton’s soundtrack guru, he had a pretty cool new wave band. And he scored a big hit with this title track to the best family friendly movie ever made about pubescent boys creating a living sex toy.
8. “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin – Co-written by Giorgio Moroder (one of the forefathers of techno) this Academy-Award winning love song from “Top Gun” became a giant hit for L.A.-based pop rockers Berlin in 1986 (as well as their last). Highlighted by singer Terri Nunn’s seductive vocals and the rubber band like bass line the song helped make watching a love scene between Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise a little less disturbing.
7. “Movin’ In Stereo” by the Cars – Most red-blooded American males (and really all non-Cars fans) will forever associate this totally awesome synth-rocker from the Cars first LP with 1982′s “Fast Times At Ridgemont High.” In a pivotal slow motion scene: Phoebe Cates in a red bikini exits the pool … and well, need I say more?
6. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel – A stand-out track from Gabriel’s 1986 LP “So” that will forever be associated for its use in an iconic scene in Cameron Crowe’s 1989 film “Say Anything.” You know it: heartbroken Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusak) stands outside the window of his ex (Ione Skye), holds the boombox over his head, presses play and makes teenage movie history.
5. “I Melt With You” by Modern English – Often dismissed as a one-hit wonder, Modern English actually had a couple great records early in their career, especially the one that featured this hit tune. The track gained popularity after it was featured during the closing credits to like omg, one of the most totally bitchin’ films of the decade: “Valley Girl” starring a young Nicolas Cage!
4. “Into The Groove” by Madonna – One of Madge’s best tracks from the ’80s, this whimsical ode to the magic of the dance floor was featured prominently in director Susan Seidelman’s 1985 film “Desperately Seeking Susan.” The film coincidently starred the material girl in one of her first major acting roles.
3. “Pretty In Pink” by the Psychedelic Furs – Ever-recognizable by singer Richard Butler’s over-the-top British accent, the Furs’ 1981 track became the inspiration for and was re-recorded for the 1986 film. To this day, we can only wonder if snooty preppies and earnest kids like Molly Ringwald, who come from the “wrong side of the tracks” can find love despite strong resistance from social cliques. Let’s hope so, for Duckie’s sake.
2. “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds – What do you get when you combine five teenagers — each from a different social clique — spending a Saturday in detention and one band that desperately wanted to be U2? You get 1985′s “The Breakfast Club” and this song. Arguably the signature track of ’80s nostalgia, the band doesn’t have to worry about us forgetting about them, because it just won’t go away.
1. “When Doves Cry” by Prince and the Revolution — This is the signature tune of the truly flawless “Purple Rain” soundtrack and one of the very best records of the decade. It’s Prince firing on all cylinders: funky, sexy, freaky, fantastic. Deservedly a massive hit for His Purpleness, it rightfully solidified his crossover appeal, which lasts to this day. To quote another film featured on this list: “The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, d*ckheads — they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”
Michael Behrenhausen is a Denver-based writer, musician and regular Reverb contributor. The worst crime he ever did was play some rock ‘n’ roll.