John Hughes Explains Music Choices In 1986 Interview
"I'd rather make music if I had the talent," [article id="1617818"]John Hughes[/article] once told MTV News.
The year was 1986, and Hughes was speaking just weeks before the release of "Pretty in Pink." By this point, with "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club," the writer and director had already changed the way Hollywood comedies were made, placing an emphasis on stories of teenage alienation and rebellion and, in past and future films, accenting the drama with cuts from '80s pop acts like the Smiths, New Order, Psychedelic Furs, Simple Minds and Lindsey Buckingham. It was an approach that shook up both the film and music businesses, and though he admitted during the MTV interview that his first choice would have been to be a rock star, he never allowed music to overtake the character or plot in his movies.
"To have a song work for the movie, it can't just be written apart and shoved in," Hughes said. "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."
As his popularity among moviegoers and record execs increased, though, Hughes maintained a commitment to the purity of music over the increasingly crass commercialism of pop culture. "I don't look at the album as a marketing tool, because I think if you do that then you're going to fail," he said. "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."
Certainly the most iconic of the songs Hughes integrated into his films was the Simple Minds' track "Don't You (Forget About Me)" in 1985's "Breakfast Club." The Scottish band was not well-known in the States, but after the film, the single shot to the top of the charts.
"Simple Minds worked for 'The Breakfast Club' in the context of the film, [even] if you never bought the record," Hughes explained. "We didn't put the song on there to sell records. We put the song in there because it was part of the movie. You couldn't take that song out of the movie, couldn't take that movie out of the song. That's what I try to do. Not sell records. It's arguable whether a hit song is gonna add to the business a film does. There are plenty of films that didn't do any business and sold a million albums."