dirty martini

old music for new people

high school musical: by john hughes December 9, 2007

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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

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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?

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high school musical: the 90s December 8, 2007

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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.

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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.