John Hughes passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack while walking with his family in New York City. He was 59. Hughes wrote and directed a number of great movies, but the ones that hit young outsider me (and tons of others) most were those punk or new wave or geeky or whatever teen-as-hero ’80s flicks: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Some Kind Of Wonderful, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, etc. (Weird Science was pretty great, too.) We’re celebrating a filmmaker not just because of the music that showed up in his films, but because Hughes had a hand in the sounds selected. In a clip from 1986 that MTV posted, he says:

To have a song work for the movie, it can’t just be written apart and shoved in … It’s got to come out of the action. It’s got to talk about the characters, not the story, it has to augment that action … I don’t look at the album as a marketing tool, because I think if you do that then you’re going to fail … It’s really betraying the music. When I approach a band, I want to respect them and be respectful of their music. I’m not gonna say, ’Look, you guys are real hot so we’ll stick you in the movie and we’ll get it in all these stores and all these stations.’ That isn’t right.

Since they dealt with bummed teenagers inhabiting an underground/youth subcultures and he carefully selected songs to represent romantic and sad epiphanies, Hughes’ best movies contained unforgettable music moments: Pretty In Pink’s “If You Leave” prom, Cameron Frye’s connection to Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte” overlapping with Dream Academy’s take on “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want,” the Thompson Twins at the close of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club’s dance sequence and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)“…

In a year that M83 nodded to Hughes via Saturdays = Youth’s album art, videos, and sentiments and a Phoenix fan paid homage to a pop aesthethic via their “Lisztomania” Brat Pack Mashup, it’s clear Hughes struck cords (and chords) with folks from all (not necessarily French) corners. Some of those cords will make you cry. Another example of Hughes’ legacy? The Yello one-hit wonder used so iconically in Ferris Bueller, over the next 20 years it became the go-to song for TV/movies/commercials to represent ’80s + shenanigans. But instead of rambling on about how well certain songs worked with Hughes’ words/images or listening all his accomplishments, here’s a selection of some of our favorites:

The Pretty In Pink trailer:

Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty In Pink” video:

The “Lisztomania” mashup:

And, to avoid the overly sentimental, this scene seems like a better ending than anything:

Speaking of Bueller and large crowds of people singing together in Chicago — the setting of so many of his films and favorite record stores — won’t be surprised if there are a few tributes at Lollapalooza this weekend. Amrit’s getting soaked on the grounds there as we speak, so keep an eye on Twitter for any word.

Comments (24)
  1. Growing up in the 80′s, John Hughes shaped my taste in music and comedy more than any other person on the planet, so I know what I will be doing for the next 20 minutes. Watching every single one of these clips, that’s what.


  2. Joker's Lady  |   Posted on Aug 7th, 2009 0

    R.I.P. John Hughes. I always loved how john hughes used New Order in Pretty in Pink.

  3. couldn’t we have celebrated this when he stopped making movies almost 2 decades ago instead of the day after he died?

  4. Black Jesus  |   Posted on Aug 7th, 2009 0

    hey no fuck you bro


  5. John Hughes really did know how to use music to his advantage. And great music, at that – thanks for the recap!

  6. John  |   Posted on Aug 7th, 2009 0

    After all this time it still make me smile to think that this is the only Beatle music ever used in a movie and in such a memorable way

    • originally written by phil medley and bert berns then immediately covered by the isley brothers years before the beatles but ok

      • Grover… you, sir, are a contrarian. Everyone was already aware the song was a cover. The Beatles covered a lot of songs. They made “Twist and Shout” their own.

  7. I’ve seen every Hughes film and the Cameron/Seurat scene is my favorite scene of all time (obviously). Thanks for posting these!

  8. On my twenty-second birthday, I went to the Art Institute of Chicago by myself and stood in front of Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon” painting while listening to the Smiths “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”. Yes, I am a dork.

  9. Alan  |   Posted on Aug 8th, 2009 0

    From my heart and from my hand, why don’t people understand my intentions?!?!

  10. John Hughes was one of those directors whose music choices really belonged with his stories. Where a good song choice could make the most simplistic scene transcend.

    Something that’s been mostly lost during these past 15 years or so.

    RIP :(

  11. Great movies along with great music even with the terrible state music was in during the late 80s and early 90s.

  12. teddy ruxpin  |   Posted on Aug 9th, 2009 0

    I don’t really have much to add here, other than the fact that it’s not cool that I have to “sign in” to rate comments. Bollocks. That and John Hughes was an excellent producer/director and may he RIP.

  13. Pretenders III   |   Posted on Aug 9th, 2009 0

    John Hughes movies, SNL, Pretenders videos…you could learn *everything* through these seemingly disposable pieces of pop culture…thanks John!

  14. oh look, stereogum sold out

  15. Anonymous  |   Posted on Aug 10th, 2009 0

    At only 59 years old John Hughes’ death was premature, which is a shame. However, as a writer & director I won’t miss him at all. Although I never enjoyed his depictions of teen life in which losers wanted to be a part of the vacuous cool kids, most of whom were assholes, thereby making the losers asshole wannabees, it is his portrayals of minorities that I found most disturbing. In Weird Science, African Americans were either behaving like characters straight out of a scene from Amos & Andy (remember AMH @ the bar) or rolling their eyes & fainting from fear (the large fellow at the party that gets crashed by the bikers. At least he didn’t say “Feet, do yo stuff”). Of course, let’s not forget the Asian stereotyping in 16 Candles. When he wasn’t using minorities as offensive comic foils, they were conspicuously missing from his whitebread world altogether. I always found his movies racially offensive, rarely funny, seldom with any intellectual significance, & almost always overly sentimental & sappy.

  16. jon cryer dancing > life itself (i’m calling out of work today)

  17. I felt a big connection with the characters in Breakfast Club even though I wasn’t born when it was released. John Hughes’ depictions of teenagers may have been stylized and idealistic, but what isn’t when Hollywood’s involved? He got it as close to right as anyone could.

    The “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” scene still makes me tear up.

  18. good collection we’ve got here

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