Despite the fact that it was released almost 30 years ago, The Breakfast Club remains the quintessential high school movie. For those of you who don’t know, the film documents a Saturday detention where five teenagers representing a variety of social cliques realize they’re not so different. Let’s explore what the Brat Pack would be listening to…then and now.
Then: You Spin Me Round – Dead or Alive
Best known as the basis for Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” Dead or Alive’s immortal party chant “You Spin Me Round” is a hallmark of the 80s party scene. With chugging synthesizers and a trance-inducing chorus, this was the song heard booming through the 1985-equivalent of a 24-Hour Fitness.
Now: Rap God – Emine
This single off Eminem’s latest album, The Marshall Mathers LP2, showcases the artist’s mile-a-minute tongue. The relatively simple instrumentation steadily pounds behind the rapidfire beat of Eminem’s lyrics, keeping the ambitious speed from being overwhelming and letting his swagger shine through. I can easily see Andrew Clark driving up to school with this blasting from his speakers.
The BASKET CASE
Then: Lucky Number – Lene Lovich
Lene Lovich is the original quirky girl, complete with elaborate costuming and performance antics Lady Gaga would admire. Not that Allison Reynolds would condone Lady Gaga. This zany New Wave piece is the musical equivalent of Reynolds’ notorious sugar sandwich: poppy, defiant, and maddeningly strange.
Now: Earth Intruders – Björk
“Earth Intruders” is the closest to physical proof there is of Björk’s alien heritage. Her signature ethereal wail coupled with jagged percussion creates an incredibly foreign experience, topped off with a minute-long conversation between foghorns. This is the song behind the wild look in Allison’s eyes. This is weird in its purest form.
Then: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Devo
Devo’s appropriately awkward rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” represents the out-of-place intellect and the desperately earnest behavior of Brian Johnson. No matter how hard he tries…he can’t get no satisfaction. The grumbling bass and punctuating vocal arrangement identify the song as an 80s anthem.
On eBay – Chumbawamba
Now: Though Chumbawamba is easily pigeonholed by their hit “Tubthumping”, this British band has a remarkable repertoire of social and political commentary in the remainder of their discography. “On eBay” is a recent single with a focus on modern technology and its impact on consumerism. Twiddling accordion and scat chorus act as twee accompaniment this ditty’s harmonic vocals. This is a reflection of the modern nerd – passionate, clever, and a little eclectic.
Then: Jock-O-Rama (Invasion of the Beef Patrol) – Dead Kennedys
Off the controversial “Frankenchrist” album, “Jock-O-Rama” is almost definitely what John Bender listened to as he prepped for a day of passively resenting the high school elite. Chock-full of social commentary and rapid, simple chords, Dead Kennedys is the epitome of adolescent 80s punk.
Now: MF from Hell – the Datsuns
This New Zealand rock outfit brings an old-school raucousness to the modern scene. Defined by an overpowering chorus and a scratchy, catchy riff, this could easily be something Bender would punch lockers to. Gruff and unapologetic, this song is the musical equivalent of his Criminal persona.
Then: Crazy for You – Madonna
One of the biggest hits of 1985, Madonna shows her sweeter side with “Crazy for You.” Claire would dance to this song alone in her room. Heartfelt lyrics and heavenly backing vocals make this the prime princess love song.
Now: Settle Down – Kimbra
Though you might know her best as the female accompaniment in Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know,” Kimbra shows off her solo chops in “Settle Down” off her debut album Vows. Her jazzy voice is undeniably cool, the swinging rhythm almost heard in Claire’s voice as she discusses her bento box. Dreamy yet complex, this song represents the balance and depth to the character of Claire Standish.
Who do you identify with? Do you agree with his/her musical characterization? If not, what songs would you use? We’d love to hear your take in the comments.