Thursday, May 20, 2010

Memorable 80s and 90s Teen Movie Songs

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If only our own high school experiences had come with their own signature soundtrack, we may have had a better idea of how to properly process our emotions. It's tough to try to have a pensive moment without something deep and soulful playing in the background. Believe me, I've tried.

Real life just can't always measure up to the effective power of a good soundtrack. When the moviemakers choose just the right song, it can skillfully set the mood for a crucial moment. From that point on, whenever we hear that song out of the context of the movie, our minds are likely to transport us back to the scene. A solid song choice has the power to cement the moment in our heads forever, iconic for posterity,

Some of these teen movie moments are silly and some are serious, but they all have one thing in common: they're highly memorable. Without the music, many of these scenes may not be especially worthy of remembering. With the music, though, they create defining moments in the teen movie canon. To create an exhaustive list would be, well, exhausting, so consider these to be a mere skimming of the teen movie music moment surface.

She's All That: Rockafeller Skank

This scene is undoubtedly cheesy, but it's enough to make a tiny part of us wish our own proms had included a highly choreographed school-wide dance number. Granted, most of our peers in high school probably weren't capable of professional-level dance moves, but it may have been fun to watch them try.

10 Things I Hate About You: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You

It's more than enough to make us all mourn the loss of Heath Ledger. He just oozes charm in this scene, allowing us to suspend our disbelief that a high school boy might actually have thought up something legitimately romantic. To be fair, Ledger was 20 years old at the time, so no wonder's his musical seduction outstrips the average high school boy's in maturity.

Can't Hardly Wait: Can't Get Enough of You Baby

Smashmouth must have written this song with the racially deluded white rapper Kenny Fisher in Mind. Seth Green plays this moment to absolute perfection. I suppose if I had to practice romancing myself in the mirror, I could use some good musical motivation, too. Granted, most of us don't need quite as much musical lubrication as Kenny to woo our own reflections. Then again, most of us don't wear goggle/JNCO jeans combos.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Twist and Shout

Next time I come across a Von Steuben Day parade, I am totally pulling a Ferris. If the band doesn't know "Twist and Shout," I'm willing to settle for "Danke Schoen." Anything else would just clash with the float girls' Heidi-esque German barmaid ensembles.

Say Anything: Your Eyes

Ah, the moment that inspired a generation of young girls to daydream about the moment a boy would stand in their yard with a boombox held persistently over their heads. This is a moment that might lose of of its recreatability over time. What are kids today supposed to do? Hold wireless iPod speakers over their head? Please. It just isn't the same.

Breakfast Club: Don't You (Forget About Me)

Simple Minds recorded "Don't You (Forget About Me)" specifically for the Breakfast Club, so it's no wonder it comes across as particularly poignant in this coming of age film. Simple Minds may not have gone on to do great things, but they're probably rolling in royalties from all of the many, many Breakfast Club parodies in movies and TV in the years since the original.

Clueless: Kids in America

So you're probably thinking to yourself, "Is this like a Noxema commerical or what?" Cher claims the answer is "or what," but I'm tempted to believe otherwise. No real high schoolers ever frollick in their backyard waterfalls. At least none who attended my high school. Maybe you all grew up in heavily waterfall-populated neighborhoods.

Center Stage: The Way You Make Me Feel

Michael Jackson may have released "The Way You Make Me Feel" back in 1987, but a new generation of teens fell in love with the song after hearing it in the climactic dance performance in the 2000 ballet film Center Stage. It was almost enough to distract us from Jody's impossible pink-to-red shoe switcharoo.

Cruel Intentions: Bittersweet Symphony

Exposing the popular girl in school for dipping into the secret cocaine stash in her cross necklace may not seem like a particularly poignant moment, but back it up with the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" and prepare to be moved. Really.

Pretty in Pink: If You Leave

It's pretty much impossible to hear Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "If You Leave" without immediately recalling the final scene in Pretty in Pink. Runner-up for most impossible? Spelling "manoeuvres". That's a tough one, at least for the ignorant Americans among us.

Romeo and Juliet: Lovefool

The Cardigan's major hit single aptly set the mood for the romantic meeting moment between Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio as Juliet and Romeo. Their eyes lock across an aquarium, which sounds highly unromantic without "Lovefool" playing in the background. It just works.

Note: Yes, I realize some of these videos don't contain the actual scenes. It's the best we can do with the YouTube copyright crackdown. Thanks for your understanding.


Melanie's Randomness said...

I'm crazy about them all!! The scene in she's all that always makes me laugh, Ferris Bueller's song was like the best, Cruel Intentions song is my ringtone actually, & I <3 the Breakfast club. Great picks today!! I loved reading about them!

Breanne at Bella Vita said...

She's All That, Say Anything and Clueless are my faves. You're totally right on. If I hear any of these songs, I immediately think of the movie.

Sadako said...

Aww, Cruel Intentions. That is one of my favorite awesomely bad ones. I always think of the Placebo song Every me, every you for that one, though, instead.

Danielle said...

Love the Pretty in Pink reference, but Ducky lip synching to Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" was even more memorable for me:

Anonymous said...

I'm with Danielle. Every time I hear Donkey sing that song in Shrek I think of Pretty in Pink. :)

Melissa Blake said...

In Your Eyes makes me smile every time I hear it!

Julie said...

There is just so much awesome in this post that I don't know where to start! Great post!

Jennifer said...

I am pretty sure that Smashmouth did not write the song in Can't Hardly Wait. I feel like it is a cover.

Jamie Peters said...

About two months ago, my best friend introduced me to Palm Beach broadcasting’s 97.9 WRMF and that has been my # 1 radio station ever since. I’m always locked on 97.9 WRMF for the best variety of 80’s, 90’s and today’s music. Check them out

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