My Top 10 80s Songs of All Time #6
Foreword: I’m probably going to take heat for picking two John Hughes movie songs in a row, but I’m doing it anyway.
In 1984, a talented writer with little experience but a knack for understanding the era’s teens made his debut with Sixteen Candles, a brutally honest and completely hysterical look at teenage life in the American Midwest. The movie starred Molly Ringwald, and I, along with every American teenage boy at the time, fell immediately in love with her. John Hughes would go on to write and direct a string of comedy/dramas that would change the way movies about teens were made. Hughes was a master at capturing life as a teen, and part of that magic came from his ability to evoke emotions through the music he wove into his movies.
In his article John Hughes: The Soundtrack to a Generation, Todd Martens describes the range of teenage emotions in Sixteen Candles through it’s songs: Recklessness? The Specials “Little Bitch.” Romantic Anticipation? “If You Were Here” by the Thompson Twins. Spazzed Out Heartache? Spandau Ballet’s “True.”
But it’s “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark (yes that’s how they spell it) that wins my spot for #6 in the Top 10 80s songs of all time. I think it’s the (probably fake) strings at about :18 that hook me. Whatever it is, I can’t imagine Pretty in Pink without this song. It immediately evokes images of Jon Cryer as the uber-friend Duckie (years before Cryer would just give up and plod through his role in 2 1/2 men), Andrew McCarthy as Blane – the guy every girl gushed over even though I didn’t get it, James Spader as Steff McKee, maybe the biggest D-bag in the history of movies, and of course Ringwald as Andie Walsh. If Molly Ringwald was what made me fall in love with this movie, the music is what has kept me coming back for more.
Fun Fact: This wasn’t the original song OMD recorded for the movie. Their song “Goddess of Love” was in the first cut of the movie, which had Duckie and Andie together at the end, but it played poorly for test audiences. When they reshot the ending to the way it was released, the song didn’t’ fit and was replaced with “If You Leave.” Jodie Foster turned down the part of Andie, and Anthony Michael Hall turned down the part of Duckie.