Sunday, August 11, 2013


Once upon a time I featured a post on Saturdays that spotlighted 80s music and MTV.  I also selected a song/video that was inspirational to me on that given day.

This post isn't like that... exactly.

It's still 80s and music, but I wanted to take a moment to depart from the songs that rocked MTV and focus on the inimitable soundtrack.  A movie soundtrack, if done well, can launch a movie even further into the stratosphere of success.  With the advent of MTV, a successful soundtrack combined with video coverage on television... these forums stairstepped one another to success.

image found at

Back in 1986, my senior year of high school for the curious, the movie Pretty In Pink came out.  It was another brain child of John Hughes and immediately became the Movie To See among my peers.  However, another interesting phenomena happened shortly thereafter: their was buzz in my high school about the soundtrack.  I started hearing things like, "This is the first movie soundtrack I have actually liked - ever."  Naturally, I was curious.  I bought it.  Here are the tracks (courtesy of Wikipedia):

1. "If You Leave"   Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 4:25
2. "Left of Center"   Vega Suzanne Vega with Joe Jackson 3:33
3. "Get to Know Ya"   Johnson Jesse Johnson 3:34
4. "Do Wot You Do"   Andrew Farriss, Michael Hutchence INXS 3:16
5. "Pretty in Pink"   John Ashton, Tim Butler, Richard Butler, Vince Ely, Duncan Kilburn, Roger Morris The Psychedelic Furs 4:40
6. "Shellshock"   New Order, John Robie New Order 6:04
7. "Round, Round"   Neville Keighley Belouis Some 4:07
8. "Wouldn't It Be Good"   Nik Kershaw Danny Hutton Hitters 3:44
9. "Bring On the Dancing Horses"   Will Sergeant, Ian McCulloch, Les Pattinson, Pete de Freitas Echo & the Bunnymen 3:59
10. "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want"   Johnny Marr, Morrissey The Smiths 1:51
Having seen the movie, I recognized OMD's If You Leave right away.  It was featured prominently in the movie at at the end, plus it was on the radio a lot.  Wikipedia indicates that it charted at #4 on Billboard in May of 1986.  That sounds right to me.  I was already a HUGE fan of INXS, but many of these other bands were a mystery to me.  Their sound was very different than anything that was getting Top 40 radio play.  I soon learned it was 80s Alternative Rock Music.

It turns out that many people were already plugged into this Alternative Rock Scene and these bands were just the tip of a fairly large iceberg.  John Hughes was, once again, at the forefront of what teenagers like.  Yeah, I was a few steps behind him.  ::shocking::

Since I think EVERYONE knows OMD's song If You Leave, I am not going to post it here.  It is a great song, mind you, and I still love it.  It was a strong start for the soundtrack and absolutely the right choice.  Instead, we will jump through this thing and hit some of the more alternative sounds for the day.

Let's start with the second cut.  Suzanne Vega singing Left Of Center was, in my opinion, a perfect choice for this soundtrack.  If you are familiar with the movie, it fits in nicely with the overall theme of the film.

Now, keep in mind that most people were still buying their music on cassette tapes in 1986, so track #5 was actually the last cut on the first side.  I am not sure I would have done that.  Pretty In Pink, by The Psychedelic Furs, is one of the strongest cuts on the album.   I would have placed it in the #6 spot, making it the first cut on the second side, but that is just me.  The video is alluring and plays hard to the movie.  Now that is working the room, so to speak.

Wasn't that great?  I don't recall it getting much play on MTV, but most Alternative bands still hadn't broken into MTV.  Maybe someone with a better memory than I can shed some light on this one....

I am not going to play the New Order song, but this soundtrack began a little love affair with that band.  I also had a couple Echo & The Bunnymen cassette tapes.  They finished this soundtrack off with a song that lasted less than 2 minutes.  2 minutes of genius that is.  The Smiths.  I don't think I really need to say more.  They are one of the most successful Alternative bands from the 80s and don't need little ole me promoting them:)

If this song sounds familiar, you may remember it from the movie 500 Days of Summer.  This song was featured (again) in that film twenty years later.  I suppose the saying is true:  You can't keep a good song down... or something like that.

When I was on Wikipedia pulling the tracks for this album, I discovered a tidbit of information there that I think is worth sharing.  Spinner chose the Pretty In Pink Soundtrack in their 2012 article Best Movie Soundtracks: The 15 Film Music Compilations That'll Change Your Life.  I know that it shifted how I related to music back in 1986, so I can agree with that assessment.    

Were any of these bands new to you?  Any long-time favorites here?  Have you heard the Pretty In Pink Soundtrack?  Do you own it?  Did you stumble into 80s alternative music and love it or hate it?


  1. That generational thing again. I've never heard of any of this so I won't comment but if I would comment a little bit, the Fur guy sounds flat to my ear.

    I really stopped by to read your Thursday post but I'm a little late as always. You must have jarred many memories with the "Summer in the City" video. Gary and Al and Patsy and I forgot who else have been commenting on the words, etc. They were having fun with it .... good choice. I've been singing it a lot too and I'll sing it some more.

  2. Wasn't my kind of music as I was into metal and hair bands by that time. That alternative eventually became harder and darker, resulting in the grunge scene explosion.
    I did like Orgy's rendition of the New Order song Blue Monday.

  3. Hehe, let's just say I grew up on alternative rock, but by the time I was in high school Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam were huge. I do remember these songs from my older siblings and the movie. I also thoroughly enjoy the soundtrack for Grosse Pointe Blank, which is also full of some great '80s music.

  4. Your comment that most people purchased cassettes intrigued me, but I was unable to find statistics-I'd have thought that records far outsold cassettes, but maybe by 1986 the shift to CD's had made tapes the dominant format. I bought my my first CD and CD player on November 28, 1986-Black Friday-look what happened to me!

    While "Pink" still ranks third for me among Hughes' films (Some Kind Of Wonderful and The Breakfast Club are 1 and 2), this soundtrack is the best if only for the two songs you mention.

    Even though a Rundgren-produced album had been released in 1982, the title track introduced me to the Furs and Suzanne Vega, and the other songs were all solid contributions.


  5. Manzanita ~ The entire Alternative Sound is a bit jarring to the uninitiated ear. Summer In The City is a FUN song. I remember dancing around to it, while it played on an 8-track tape, in my living room singing into a hair brush. Now there's a picture...

    Alex ~ I thought this might not be your music. But, I bet it's closer than Top 40. Ha!

    Steven ~ Yes, eventually Alternative Rock found it's place on Billboard. I don't know what the folks thought who considered tapping into Billboard to be traitorous. They must have changed musical styles yet again...

    LC ~ Cassettes were still huge in 1986. I didn't own a CD player for many years later. I know that I went all through college without one (still bought cassette tapes) and didn't buy one the two years I lived in NYC after I graduated. So, that means it was the early 90s before I caved in and bought one. You must keep in mind that my cassette collection was HUGE and the idea of replicating it... not attractive. So much great music that I had on tape... well, I just don't own it anymore in any format.

    I also loved the Some Kind Of Wonderful soundtrack. It ranked right up there, for me, with the PIP soundtrack. It also features Alternative Music. I think I wore the tape out on both of them!

  6. I heard them all, like them all, and of course, I have a story to tell some day. Vega is my favorite.

  7. I really liked the movie. I don't remember any of the songs, though, but I like the second one best. Alternative rock is fun.


  8. I really liked all the John Hughes films, though some of the teen angst was lost on me, for some reason.

    Back then, I listened to Country Music more than anything else...but I still remember hearing a lot of those songs.

    Regardless, the 80s was one of the best times for movies -and- music. :)

  9. Aww, you just took me back to high school. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie so much! Now I'm going to go listen to that soundtrack because I'm that nostalgic. :)

  10. Thanks for a great walk down memory lane! TBC was the first movie I ever saw on a VCR. My new stepfather at the time had the first one I had ever seen. And the soundtrack to that movie was great with the story line. As with all 3 of the triple play- 16 Candles, PIP & TBC- They were all genius in their own ways.
    As for alternative music, I think I can at least speak to what it was like to be right in the midst of the alternative scene here in Seattle and going to high school and college during the height of it all. It was kind of fun at first to see the rest of the country get into the kind of garage band feel we had going on out here and then suddenly it was like, 'hey, wait that's not what it's supposed to sound like' when it got all popped out and put on the radio. Here, we had been watching it live in grungy little dark holes of places, house parties, all ages clubs. Heck I even heard some crazy stuff played live after hours at the zoo, when my friend worked there for a while.
    Then suddenly it just wasn't what it once had been and then I just went back to listening to more country and pop and realized that even I just wasn't that dark. It's funny, but when everybody's listening to it, it isn't really alternative anymore- is it?! ;) Luckily, I can say that I do appreciate that my musical tastes have seemed to dip into everything at one time or another and certain stuff just feels like a certain time or place.
    It's cool that you do these posts and I can feel your love of the music. You remind me of a good friend from high school. When everyone around her was playing musical instruments, she would say that she did too and her instrument was the stereo!

  11. I haven't seen Pretty in Pink, but I remember people LOVING it.

    I don't remember any of these songs either...but in 1986 I'd just left home, so it was probably the year I quit listening to the radio (working to eat and all that good stuff ;) ).

  12. JJ ~ I am keeping a list of stories...

    Robyn ~ None of these songs really got radio play here. They all got some radio play in England, but Alternative still hadn't broken through so that it was played in any regular "formats."

    Mark ~ No teen angst for you? It's probably because the rest of us had it in spades. No matter:)

    Yvonne ~ I know precisely what you mean... I don't have any of my cassettes any longer, and I never bought this one on CD. I could troll through YouTube and eventually hear them all!

    Jasmine ~ As always, you offer an interesting perspective. I always thought that what Alternative listeners liked was that it was some sort of secret. It was NOT mainstream. Wasn't it the early 90s that it broke onto the radio? I always wondered what those initial Alternative Groupies thought about that... and I suppose now I know. (Didn't much care for it!)

    I love what you said about associating certain genres of music with specific time periods. That is also me. I went through a hard and exclusive country phase back in 1992 that lasted for several years. I do believe that coincides with the success of these mainstream alternative bands. Ergo, I am pretty well out of the loop. Right now I am not listening to the radio at all. I guess I am in a YouTube phase. I get a little bit of everything:)

    mail4rosey ~ Holy Smokes! You haven't seen Pretty In Pink. I am not sure that it would impact you the same now. It was a teen coming of age sort of film... like all John Hughes classics. Your teenage daughter might relate better now. And the only song that got radio play was If You Leave, which I didn't feature here....

    1. You have the timing precisely right. I graduated high school in 1992 and college in 1996. I remember exactly where I was when Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994. I had gone back to the country music by then, myself.
      It's always been interesting to me to hear from my husband who grew up in Pennsylvania and hung out with people from New York & New Jersey in college about what music was doing where he was during that time. We have noticed some serious differences. One I can note for sure is my shock to realize that Sir-Mix-A-Lot was a one hit wonder outside of Seattle. Nooooo, it couldn't be true. I think with the internet now, things are more homogenized.
      On a related note, I SIMPLY CANNOT BELIEVE that you are not listening to country radio right now!!! They are playing some of the most fun, uplifting, great stuff I have ever been exposed to. Look for Zac Brown Band, Randy Houser, Luke Bryan, newer Blake Shelton, newer Darius Rucker, Kip Moore, Lady Antebellum, Easton Corbin, and I will just die if you say you haven't heard of Florida Georgia Line. I could go on and on... Did I mention that Miranda Lambert's 'All Kinds Of Kinds' is pretty ground breaking for country music?
      Yup, I'm excited by this stuff lately. Heck, even my husband who is usually late to notice anything at all has mentioned how great this stuff is!

    2. First, let me say that I, too, lost interest in Alternative Music when it became mainstream. Of course, I was also fed up with Pop 40 and that was when I turned to country. Ha! So funny that we transitioned at the same time:)

      You mean Sir-Mix-A-Lot wasn't a One Hit Wonder???

      Apparently I need to start listening to country again. It sounds like some good things are happening there. I have heard of all of those people, though I couldn't tell you who sings what (the way I can when I am fully immersed in it). I have heard of Florida Georgia Line, but just barely;) Had you asked me a couple of months ago, the answer would be "no" and I still can't recall the song I heard them song. Yes, it was very different. That I remember.

      I have liked Lady A since they came out and same goes for Miranda Lambert. I am going to hand my head now, but I haven't heard All Kinds of Kinds. But... I am going to rectify that straightaway and dash on over to YouTube.

      BTW, too funny about The Hubs. He and I are riding parallel courses right now. :) Or maybe I am dragging behind!

    3. As a northwest native, I feel I must answer your question! :)
      The real Sir-Mix-A-Lot = SWASS, his first record, self released and VERY locally influenced. It went platinum with his first hit- Posse on Broadway.
      Yup, I have pics. of me and mine at Dick's and yes you truly could get yourself in the mix with a brand new tape & $10. I dare you to look up Bremelo and not laugh! Or how about some square dance rap w buttermilk biscuits on the side- don't know why these never caught on in the south.
      That was some great old school hip hop with a simple back beat.
      I bet there's a lot of local music scene stuff that anybody outside a particular area didn't see so much of before the internet really caught on.

  13. I remember my Daughter listening to a lot of these songs. I even seen Pretty In Pink!

  14. That is a great soundtrack. "If You Leave" got tons of airplay. I still hear it on the radio on a few stations that play 80s music.

    The first soundtrack that got my attention was Top Gun.

  15. Don't hate me but I was never a big fan of 80's music. I did like that movie and still see it once in a while on reruns.

  16. MJWC ~ She probably had the soundtrack. You are on top of things today:)

    Jay ~ Top Gun is a great soundtrack in a totally different way!

    Susan ~ I don't hate you (I think you're wrong... hahaha), but I don't hate you. The truth is that everyone loves the music that they grew up on. I suspect it wasn't 80s for you;) The movie is/was awesome.

  17. I've not seen (or heard) Pretty in Pink. I managed to miss quite a lot of the 80s!

  18. Hmmm, major generation gap here. Of course, I've seen the movie, because my youngest was a high school senior at the time, and she loved the movie. And the music. Our kids opened me up to all kinds of music I would never have listened to on my own, and much to my surprise, I actually like some of it. Even the Nine Inch Nails, and ONE rap song: "Parents Just Don't Understand." I like the music in this movie okay, but it's not "my thing." I'm more a fifties, and even more so, sixties, kinda music gal.

  19. I remember most of those bands from MTV. I wonder how many would've made if not for the music station?

  20. Patsy ~ I think it is still a great movie. But, I admit that I love most everything 80s. And I think John Hughes was a genius!!!

    Susan ~ Yeah, that happens. I maintain that people will always love best the music that was popular when they were in middle and high school. Everything else will always be second best.

    Diane ~ You saw many of these bands on MTV? I don't remember most of them getting much play. OMD was on with If You Leave, but the rest on this album... not so much. INXS did really well after they came out with their album KICK, but prior to that... not so much. I think that MTV helped music sales in a spectacular sort of fashion. I don't know that Thriller would have been the album it turned out to be if not for MTV. Now MTV is a shell of it's former self... and retains none of the glory:(


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