09/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

John Hughes & the Soundtrack of Our Lives

John Hughes is gone and one more nail is in the '80s coffin. You can talk about Michael Jackson all you want but John Hughes was the soundtrack to my 1980s life. His movies introduced me to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Echo & the Bunnymen, Suzanne Vega, and Wang Chung. In retrospect, I could have done without the Wang Chung introduction.

Still, Hughes' taste in music was impeccable. He set the benchmark for a new era in film soundtracks where songs were as much the stars as the actors on the screen. He could hear a hit the same way a good A&R man smells the next big thing. Apparently, it runs in the family, Hughes' son, John III runs a Chicago indie electronica label called Hefty Records. Films like "(500) Days of Summer" and "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" with their song-driven plots would not exist without "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink."

John Hughes was the DJ of our youth. Here are some of his best mixes. Bring on the dancing horses and rest in peace.


GALLERY: Favorite John Hughes cast moments



"Hey, hey, hey, hey." The signature song from 1985's "The Breakfast Club" was written by an unlikely combo - disco producer Keith Forsey (the name behind "Flashdance... What a Feeling") and Steve Schiff, guitarist for German punk chanteuse Nina Hagen. Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry were both approached to sing it but they couldn't be bothered. Enter Simple Minds, who also refused initially. In the end, they recorded it in three hours and never really cared for it.





The title song to Hughes' 1985 film (and subsequent TV series). It was supposedly Oingo Boingo's least favorite song and was rarely performed live. Maybe because it sounds a lot like Boingo's "Dead Man's Party."





The Psychedelic Furs released this song on the their 1981 sophomore album "Talk Talk Talk" which barely made a dent on the Billboard Top 100. Hughes dug the song so much, he wrote a script around it. The Furs re-recorded it for his 1986 film.





Another one from the "Pretty in Pink" soundtrack. The Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark song plays in the final scene as Andie (Molly Ringwald) and Blane (Andrew McCarthy) kiss outside the prom. The band recorded the song expressly for the film. Hughes gave them their biggest U.S. hit.





Swiss electronica band Yello released this song on their 1985 album "Stella" to little notice. Hughes brilliantly dropped in his '86 classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" to declare Ferris' (Matthew Broderick) obsession with Cameron's (Alan Ruck) dad's Ferrari. That scene gave the song a permanent place in pop culture. "Oh Yeah" is now shorthand for anything coveted, hot, or sexy. Sadly, no soundtrack was ever released for "Bueller" as Hughes felt the songs wouldn't work together as an audio-only experience.





By the late '80s, Hughes' characters were growing up. Kate Bush wrote this song for the 1988 film "She's Having a Baby," Hughes' ode to newly-found adulthood and suburban adjustment. The next year Bush put the song on her own album, "The Sensual World."