dirty martini

old music for new people

forgotten soundtracks of the 80s June 24, 2008

a long time ago in a galaxy far away (let’s say, circa 1985), the internet didn’t exist.

music wasn’t free, it was only available in record stores, for those who had the £££. and let’s face it most ten year olds didn’t. those who didn’t have whsmith birthday tokens (books? yeah right) would spend hours hovering over the red record button on their ghettoblaster waiting for the songs they wanted to come on the radio. this could take days and you always missed the intro, and most of your summer holiday, if you were dedicated.

some clever, if clunky, editing was required to retain as much of the song as possible before the dj started smarming again. for the 80s preteen generation this was usually bruno brookes and mark goodier on radio 1, the former last seen presenting a fishing show on sky sports 3. what if the tape ran out before the end of the song, and this was before 1987 when tapes didn’t flip over to the other side automatically? don’t smirk, generation y, that was the height of convenience and technology back then!

add this to the equation – there were some songs that were never played on the radio. you’d have to fork out for the whole tape to get one song. there were even some songs that weren’t commercially available because they were used on a soundtrack which didn’t get released. so what did you do? you waited three to four years until the movie arrived on tv, that’s what you did, then you recorded it to video. then you played it back and shoved your ghettoblaster right up to the tv speakers. repeat process until you managed to get the whole way through the song before being interrupted by a rogue family member. if you were smart you locked the living room door.

for all of the 80s kids nodding along to this post, here are some of those songs in glorious, convenient mp3 format…

ten hard to get 80s soundtracksdownload here

can’t buy me love (1987)
atlantic starr – one lover at a time

randy hall – all night
the best john hughes movie that never was, and i think, the most underrated of all the 80s teen movies. the atlantic starr track is from the scene near the beginning when the cheerleaders are practising. i wanted this song so i could copy cindy mancini and co’s dancing. what happened to amanda peterson? she was a great actress, reversing the hollywood trend of twentysomething highschoolers, actually being younger, at 15, than her senior year character. the second track is the setting for ronald‘s public premiere of the infamous ‘african anteater ritual’ dance. a truly legendary moment – think david brent‘s ill-advised office high-kicks set to a high school dance. 

mannequin (1987)
belinda carlisle – in my wildest dreams
alisha – do you dream about me

 everyone knows the big tune released from this movie – soft rock singalong ‘nothing’s gonna stop us now’ by starship. it went to number one across the world but this wasn’t enough to warrant a full release for the soundtrack. belinda carlisle provided an unreleased track for the memorable cartoon intro that sees emmy transformed from egyptian spinster to 80s department store dummy. the second track is from 80s pop star alisha‘s second album, and was used in the scene where andrew mccarthy and kim cattrall scamper around the department store after hours. which i was so jealous of.

coming to america (1988)
levert – addicted to you
michael rodgers – i like it like that

back then, eddie murphy was a comic genius. as soon as you’d stopped laughing at his standup tales of ice cream vans and drunk uncles, he introduced you to soul glo, crazy barbers who argue about boxing champions and that reverend, jacked by countless comedians since (richard blackwood, i am so talking to you). the first song is from the club scene where akeem and semi find out that every woman in queens is severely unhinged. the second is from the scene where lisa receives the $500,000 earrings. while her sister prances about in big plastic earrings worthy of pat butcher, oblivious to the injustice.

 cocktail (1987)
leroy gibbons – this magic moment
jimmy cliff – shelter of your love
by the time this movie was released, tom cruise was invincible. (oh, this was way before he discovered scientology and keeping impressionable young women hostage…) which was just as well because as much i love it, the plot is sketchy at best. from what i can gather, tom visits an old bar colleague in jamaica and also meets elisabeth shue. then they dance and drink a lot. fair play to them. both of these songs are from scenes in balmy, outdoor clubs that make you want to head on over to www.sunshine.co.uk to book your next getaway.

 vision quest (1985)
madonna – crazy for you
madonna – gambler
fortuitously (or not, for the rest of the cast) this release coincided with the exact moment when madonna blew up in the uk. rosanna who? in the hot summer of 1985 holiday’, ‘crazy for you’ and ‘into the groove’ were simultaneously in the uk charts. i would boom them out of the living room as i kicked, spun and crawled across the carpet in leggings and fingerless gloves. i used to think my mum hated madonna. it turns out she was similarly impressed by her music, but was afraid of her effect on my behaviour. can’t think why…oops, we haven’t talked about the movie. despite her brief cameo as a nightclub singer, it was and still is, all about madonna.

update: 3 bonus tracks* – download here

randy hall – as long as i can last (can’t buy me love)

the system – coming to america / eddie murphy – i got it (coming to america)

 

high school musical: by john hughes December 9, 2007

pip.jpgferris.jpgbreakfast.jpg 

the name ‘john hughes’ might not mean much to anyone under 30.

but those born in the 60s and 70s know that john hughes ruled 80s teen movies. he used the all conquering brat pack throughout the series and molly ringwald, anthony michael hall, andrew mccarthy, ally sheedy and judd nelson have failed to capture comparable success since.

the characters, ferris bueller apart, emerged from obscurity to challenge and overcome their shallower rivals. the difference between the UK and US became apparent watching these films. cheerleading and after school activity in general was not cool. the outcasts who drank, smoked and hung out in smoky clubs were more easily identifiable.

top 10 conventions of the john hughes high school movie:

  1. unrequited love
  2. blonde bitchy cheerleaders
  3. good looking social outcast
  4. annoying younger brother and sister
  5. rich vs poor
  6. geeks who play cards
  7. main character has saturday job
  8. demon headmaster
  9. deluded parents
  10. implausible hookup

download here

pretty in pink

omd – if you leave, nik kershaw – wouldn’t it be good

molly ringwald wasn’t the best candidate for a 90% pink wardrobe, being ginger and all. my favourite character was the lounging steff, a vision in white linen as he sauntered around the school. of course he was about 30 at the time so youthful awkwardness may have been an acting lesson too far for james spader. obligatory indie club scene is present and correct, as is gym class bitching between molly and blonde cheerleader with one sided ponytail.

the breakfast club

simple minds – dont you forget about me, karla devito – we are not alone

this movie defined the high school stereotypes throughout all of john hughes’ films – the princess whose parents drink and fights, the jock who only plays football to please his dad, the geek who came close to blowing up the school, the outcast with the attitude who everyone secretly fancies and the outcast with the messy hair who puts on some mascara and – voila!- pulls the captain of the football team.

sixteen candles

spandau ballet – true, wham – young guns

charlie sheen-alike senior dumps blonde cheerleader girlfriend for ginger nobody with no experience. US high school can’t be that tough then. the highlight of this movie is exchange student long duck dong, who in the politically incorrect 80s instantly becomes ‘the weird chinese guy in mike’s room’ since no one can be bothered to pronounce his name.

ferris bueller’s day off

yello – oh yeah, wayne newton – danke schoen

not as popular as ‘no one puts baby in the corner’, but much funnier, ‘no one leaves my cheese out in the wind’ was just one great moment from headmaster ed rooney. how come matthew broderick doesn’t get any older?  why didn’t we see more from the actor who played cameron, than just a cameo in ‘speed’? how did ferris have all that technology in one room?

weird science

oingo boingo – weird science, los lobos – don’t worry baby

this movie led a million adolescent boys to cling to the belief that beyond the rejection of every single girl in their class, was the possibility of a kelly le brock-alike if they could only tap a few passwords into a chunky computer and attach some wires to a couple of potatoes and a lava lamp. hence the IT skills crisis once these delusionals graduated about a decade later.

some kind of wonderful

propaganda – dr mabuse, stephen duffy – she loves me

two outcasts who clearly belong together, but one has loftier ambitions. apparently some viewers were unhappy that ‘pretty in pink’ saw the rich boy get the girl, and this movie was developed to redress the balance. one question – if you know turning up to a party will almost definitely get your arse kicked…why go?

 

high school musical: the 90s December 8, 2007

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 cluless.jpg sat.jpg

it’s a testament to the scary times we live in that something as anodyne, safe and unchallenging as high school musical is so popular and gratefully received by fearful parents.

gone are the days when kids looked up to rebels – these days they actually swallow the moralistic, gap-sweatered cheese the establishment tried so hard to push in the 50s, and again in the 70s. i am talking about the kids who aren’t out shooting their classmates and working on their next asbo, obviously.

don’t call them throwback to the kids from fame – those kids had more grit. even the partridge family look hardcore compared to drippy gabriella and troy.

as in high school musical, my generation, the 90s high school crowd, were infinitely more stylish than the 80s crowd we looked up to, and no less bitchy. but the similarities with gabriella and co end there. the class of the 90s had designer polish by day but by night they lived the 90s dream – drugs, clubs and alcohol. yes, even yanks got pissed in 90s teen movies.

download here

never been kissed

madonna – like a prayer, ozomatli – cumbia de los muertos

the original version of the madonna classic is far superior and well used in this movie. the reggae club scene shows how underage partying has merged into the adult scene and lost its edge. gone are the days of smoky clubs and out of control house parties – the 90s girls have endless wardrobes and no need to work in record stores or gas stations to fund their social lives.

10 things i hate about you

brick – dazz,  kci and jojo – all my life

old skool funk and 80s soul ruled this soundtrack, and made such a refreshing contrast to the usual dreary US teen angst rock so prevalent in these movies, to the bemusement of the UK where complaint rock is so not popular. some indie warbling did slip past but the main character was resolutely alternative so this was to be expected…

american pie

etta james – at last, paul simon – mrs robinson

well this soundtrack was a bit of a mishmash of genres and these were probably the least offensive. again, the US preoccupation with MOR rock shines through most of the other tracks.

can’t hardly wait

kp and envyi – swing my way, tone loc – funky cold medina

not so great movie, much better soundtrack. miaow – but, does anyone really think jennifer love hewitt is attractive enough to play an obsessive love interest? i’m not buying it personally, can’t see the fuss. but then i’m not supposed to as i’m a girl.

she’s all that

rick james – give it to me baby, goldie – believe

by the late 90s, high school mean girls are apparently dating reality tv z-listers. never in the breakfast club. throw in some superfluous cameos by lil kim and usher within the lead characters’ army of skanks and apparently you have a movie. again – NEVER IN THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

clueless

coolio – rollin’ with my homies, no doubt – just a girl

generation defining movie that started the high school movie ball rolling again. alicia silverstone broke the mould as the teen queen with a heart. 12 years later, people are still saying ‘whatever’ and ‘as if’. much like ‘valley girl’ before it, clueless made er, being clueless, cool again.