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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soul power couples: the classics October 23, 2007

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duets don’t always work. i think simon cowell is about to find this out to his detriment – ‘same difference’ the icky brother and sister act on this year’s x factor are not going to resonate with a nation that just finds these things a bit, well…creepy.  what was that simon? you think they’ll capture the ‘high school musical’ market? make that ‘flowers in the attic’.

not as creepy as ‘two to go’ though, from x factor 2004. i haven’t got over that yet. psychopathic nursing home worker tries to carve career from exploitation of blind gareth gates-alike brother. ewwww.

if you bring together two equally talented, non-related singers however, the results can be spectacular. witness.

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bill medley and jennifer warnes – the time of my life

dirty dancing, like grease before it, will outlive us all. the soundtrack, and this song in particular, made the film the success it was. and made enough cash to get jennifer grey that ill-advised nose job…hope that ‘friends’ cameo paid well.

carla thomas and otis redding – tramp

much sampled classic – many female singers in the 60s paled in comparison to the commerical power of the supremes and undeniable talent of aretha. and otis is just otis and he died too young.

cherrelle and alexander o’neal – never knew love like this

whitney’s partner-in-crack cherrelle was once a respectable soul singer albeit only really famous for her collaborations with alex. who is slightly ‘eccentric’ himself as i recall from his bizarre participation in ‘just the two of us’ in which he duetted with a dumpy newsreader for the entertainment of the british public. someone really needs to stop the bbc making musical reality shows.

diana ross and lionel richie – endless love

i never got the whole diana ross thing. she is not a great singer. that dreamgirls storyline must have hit her where it hurts. i always wanted to see this film based on the song though.

janet jackson and luther vandross – best things in life are free

i may have forgotten the plot of the film ‘mo money’ to which this was the lead soundtrack, but i can remember this being played on a loop in the summer of 1992 at a very out of control house party.

judy clay and william bell – private number

another 60s duo who found themselves overshadowed. these two were on stax, not motown. which was way cooler.

mary j blige and kci hailey – i don’t want to do anything

mary’s problems didn’t start with her relationship with kci, but they did seem to begin to resolve themselves once she extricated herself. as ever, trying times can equal good music. people who say they wish mary would get messed up again so she can produce better music are wrong though.

roberta flack and donny hathaway – the closer i get to you

a whole album to choose from but the simplicity of this song is what makes it so special. that and donny hathaway, who could sing the bus timetable and stop me being pissed off that there’s only a bus ‘every 15-19 minutes’.

sheena easton and prince – u got the look

prince clearly saw a niche for scottish reality tv stars. especially those shorter than him – he doesn’t collaborate with just anyone. oh wait, he sort of does. carmen electra anyone?

the sos band and alexander o’neal – the finest

not sure how this came about? an early bootleg? i don’t remember him being on the original. he probably doesn’t either…cough…is he still wandering up and down kilburn high road looking confused?

syreeta and billy preston – with you i’m born again

this song is one of my earliest memories. it has that classic late 70s combination of plaintive harmonies,  and smooth vocals.

tammi terrell and marvin gaye – you’re all i need to get by

marvin and tammi were a much better match talentwise than marvin and insipid diana ross.

 

more 80s soundtracks May 22, 2007

can’t get enough of 80s movies at the moment. nostalgia can be indulgent but sometimes you’re just fed up with the real world, or, you just prefer the music and movies of another time.

now that i have worn out and/or broken most of my sex and the city dvds, i find myself watching an 80s movie to wind down.
i wonder if, in the future, there’ll be a place you can go to where to all intents and purposes, it’s the 80s, or the 70s or whatever era you feel like living in. yes, one of the last 80s films i watched was back to the future.
ten more 80s soundtracksdownload here
beverly hills cop (1984)
junior – do you really want my love
**bonus**vanity 6 – nasty girl
forget ‘axel f’ i think we can safely say its forever ruined by a crazy frog. junior was a uk soul singer whose only real hit was the growly ‘mama used to say’. vanity 6’s biggest hit was, for purple reasons, left off the soundtrack. the film? well if the only eddie murphy you know is the sorry fortysomething player who fathers children with desperate spice girls, you need to get this and coming to america and find out why he’s even famous in the first place. get raw and delirious while you’re at it as well, i hear they just came out on dvd.
ferris bueller’s day off (1986)
yello – oh yeah

how does matthew broderick look the same now as in 1986? anyway, who can forget this scene – battered and defeated headmaster, ed rooney, resigned to catching a school bus. earlier he declared, ‘i did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind’. like the breakfast club before it, ferris delighted in watching authoritative adults sink under the delusion that they were smarter than sassy 80s kids. i loved the character cameron in this movie. check out jennifer grey before dirty dancing and that nosejob as ferris’s sister jeannie.
ghostbusters ii (1989)
bobby brown – on our own
copyact sequel, but an opportunity for young bobby to cement his growing popularity. this track hasn’t engraved itself on the memory like ray parker jr’s effort but it was huge in 89. he did provide another song for the soundtrack but…its awful. and i’m a huge bobby fan. don’t try to track it down. think vanilla ice and those ninja turtles and be glad you left well enough alone. the film is exactly the same as the first ghostbusters – bill murray, big marshmallow baddies who threaten to eat new york. ok there might be slightly more to it than that…but not a hell of a lot.
krush groove (1985)
sheila e – a love bizarre
kurtis blow – if i ruled the world

if you’re a fan of 80s hiphop, this soundtrack is worth seeking out, although it probably doesn’t exist on cd. the story follows def jam’s early days and features sheila e, ll cool j, beastie boys and new edition amongst others. it also stars a young blair underwood. as in the fit doctor miranda dates in the last series of sex and the city. the fit, rich doctor who can cook but also buys her pizza and a cookie that says ‘i love you’. which sends her running back to broke barman steve. i’m sorry, i loved that show but COME ON that would never happen. he was too good for her – oh, ok i’ll calm down now….
top gun (1986)
teena marie – lead me on
the rest of the soundtrack was eclipsed by ‘take my breath away’ but its actually a good representation of mid 80s power pop, especially ‘danger zone’, the likes of which just wouldn’t work in the 00s for so many reasons. this was before living in an inner city was indeed like ‘living in a danger zone’ as per this song. this teena marie song is the most soul-oriented track. many a ten year old girl developed a crush on tom cruise thanks to this movie, and cocktail, that has carried into later life. until katie holmes and scientology, obviously, at which point he visibly lost it.
who’s that girl (1987)

duncan faure – 24 hours
scritti politti – best thing ever
madonna filled this soundtrack with four of her own tracks, naturally, and most fans bought it for these and skipped the others. i copied from a friend as i wouldn’t spend £5.49 on a tape with only four madonna songs. not when i could spend 70p on a blank tape and a bag of kola kubes to bribe said friend. we didn’t share msuic quite so freely in those days. scritti politti were a great 80s blue eyed soul band with breathy vocals and this is a good example of their offerings. duncan faure? one hit wonder if this even counts. I used to think this was sung by the male lead in the film, griffin dunne.

body rock (1985)
maria vidal – body rock


fabulous example of mid 80s legwarmers-and-headband dance music, hot on the heels of fame and flashdance. i haven’t seen the movie in years, but i’m not sure its really necessary, to guess what its about. this song was a favourite of sadistic p.e. teachers up and down the UK, looking to motivate lazy 16 year olds into aerobics, well into the 90s. why was all the music in those lessons at least 10 years old?? another favourite was the pointer sister’s ‘jump’ for trampolining (arf…) and i also remember being forced to do aqua aerobics to elton john’s ‘i’m still standing’. funny cos i don’t remember the p.e witches having a sense of humour…



bright lights big city (1987)

prince – good love

from one shortarse to another, prince contributed this rare track to michael j fox’s 1987 movie. as i remember, this is almost exactly the same as ‘the secret of my success’. michael, previously playing teen roles in teenwolf and back to the future, made the apparent leap to twentysomething hotshot within the space of two years. like ralph macchio, he was a good ten years older than most of his characters. which must be like the ultimate affirmation of hanging on to your youth, I presume. good for them.