John Hughes: Soul Sucking Destroyer Of Dreams

psychedelic fursOh how I’ve mellowed over the years…

A couple of years ago I ran the following post about John Hughes, meant as an homage to the bands mentioned and a bit of a slam on the producer of such ‘80’s classics as The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink. You’ll notice, if you take the time to read it, that I don’t take issue with the movies of Hughes, oh no; just the fact that virtually every once cool band that ever provided a song for one of his soundtracks to a John Hughes film proceeded to suck, and suck badly, directly following the release of the movie. It took decades, as an example, for OMD to recover, but most never did. Of course I know that it was what the band’s did after with their careers that led to their downfall, not any involvement in the films of Hughes. The films gave them the opportunity to be popular, and most softened their approach in order to maintain said popularity. To sum up, it was their own damn fault! I was just havin’ a bit of fun, but in the process I managed to piss a few people off. Such is the price of having a warped sense of humor, I suppose.

At the end of my childish tirade I damned Hughes to Hell. Of course I didn’t really mean anything by it; it was just a very dramatic ending to a very silly post. A week or so after I published the story John Hughes died of a heart attack. My wife didn’t speak to me for 2 weeks, not due to her actually thinking I had anything to do with his death, but rather the childish way I presented my theory in the posting. I wasn’t really mad at Hughes, because how could I really be mad at someone who introduced the world to the singular talents of the great James Spader?

This being an ‘80’s blog (more or less), I thought I’d republish that post here, now, but just to be clear: I have softened greatly in the years since the original, and while I don’t believe my poison pen actually was a contributing factor in his demise, I somewhat regret the nastiness of some of it. Call it therapy. Apologies in advance to the Hughes Estate…

Jim Kerr, lead singer for the pop group Simple Minds, has been looking for film Director/ Producer John Hughes since 1985, because he wants to beat him silly. That’s the year the Breakfast Club was released and that’s pretty much the year Simple Minds promising career went into the toilet.

Simple Minds were a very good group back in the day. They were an experimental art band with some progressive and electronic leanings, and released a string of critically acclaimed albums from 1979 (Reel To Real Cacophony) through 1984’s good-to-great Sparkle In The Rain. They were neck and neck with U2 to be the next “Biggest Band In The World”. Seems almost funny now, in a sad way, but musically speaking Simple Minds were far and above the better band at that point; but they made a critical error in judgment by agreeing to lend their name and voices and talent to a song for a John Hughes movie called The Breakfast Club.

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, obviously, became a massive hit for the band and helped propel the movie to box office bliss. Written specifically for the movie, by someone who’s name escapes me, Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music fame), The Fixx and others were offered the a chance at the song but quickly, and wisely, rejected the offer. Jim Kerr almost did as well, calling the lyrics ‘formulaic’ and ‘juvenile’.

dont youBut the lure of fast cash won the day, and it became a worldwide smash propelling the group to stadium behemoths in the process. It also ruined their bright future by alienating them from their core fan base (myself included), and by giving Kerr and Co. the misguided feeling that over the top formulaic anthems were the way to go.
There were others of course; once great, edgy bands who lent their songs to a John Hughes film and were immediately relegated to, in the words of the great Harry Shearer, the “Where Are They Now Files”. Here are but a few of the poor bastards:

From the Pretty In Pink soundtrack: Psychedelic Furs, O.M.D., Echo and the Bunnymen.

From Ferris Bueler’s Day Off: Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Dream Academy, General Public, and to a lesser extent, Big Audio Dynamite.

From Sixteen Candles: Madness, Stray Cats, Adam Ant, Altered Images, Nick Heyward, Spandeau Ballet, Billy Idol, Thompson Twins.

The actors that appeared in his films weren’t immune from the reverse Midas touch of Hughes, either: poor Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy and Jennifer Grey! Even the great and supremely talented Canadian John Candy, who appeared in FOUR of JH’s films was on the downward slide just prior to his untimely death.

The fact remains that a lot of the bands had great potential, creatively and artistically speaking, and after their involvement in a Hughes film they simply…vanished into a sea of faux teen angst. Some went supernova prior to burning out, but all burned out eventually.

Although Jim Kerr and Simple Minds continue to put out albums you won’t hear about it unless you make a real effort to search them out. Because Simple Minds, like all the other poor bastard bands who have succumbed to the Hughes curse out there, have never been able to regain that spark, that pre-1984 spark, that made them so promising in the beginning.

Damn you, John Hughes.

Damn you to Hell!!!