VHS Revival revisits some of the most memorable movie soundtracks of the ’80s.
I like cheese. True, I dive into the more serious sides of R&B, Rock, 50s, Hip-H0p (the good kind. Shit’s hard to defend the last twenty years), punk, metal, et cetera. In short, I am a music junkie. And that means soundtracks! What kind? All. But here at VHS Revival, we do 80s. In other words, the following list will be packed with more awesomeness and cheese than you could spread on a box of kick-ass 80s crackers; whatever the hell that means.
Ohhhhh-hoooo. Who’s That Guy?
First up, I present to you the cheesiest on the list (we might as well get this one out of the way). Regardless of having more sex in its undertones than a 2 Live Crew album, children and parents alike can slap this on and have themselves a great 44 minutes of not-so-hidden sex in stereo. It’s not so much a sequel, really, but more like a serious wonder in the WTF? department.
Blasting through a script that resembled Batman in some weird kind of way, a cast of Grease clones deliver classics such as “Back to School Again,” the Michelle Pfeiffer-driven “Cool Rider” (which should be recycled in another movie), the horny-bowling anthem “We’re Gonna Score Tonight,” the not-so-subtle “Reproduction,” and the mysterious “Who’s That Guy?” about a man who wears a pair of goggles as if he’s from outer space. I would have said Gotham City.
Also, who can forget the sweet melodies of “Let’s Do It for Our County,” a patriotic love ballad about tricking your girlfriend into sex for war or peace or something, as your family and friends die during nuclear holocaust? Without question, and no matter what the situation, these teens are horny on the mic.
Just for the record, “Charades” is one of the worst songs ever recorded. Skip, unless you are feeling under the weather and want to induce vomiting. Sorry, Maxwell Caulfield. Stick to looking pretty.
First thing’s first, Thrashin’s “Staring Down the Demons” is one of the best representations of what a kick-ass ’80s soundtrack is all about, filled with determination and crooning. Scarface may have “Push it to the Limit,” but Thrashin’ has its demons.
Never officially released as a soundtrack – how sad – we kick things off with Meat Loaf’s bizarre title track “Thrashin’, and quickly move onto the likes of the ever-awesome Devo with one of their better cuts, “Good Thing.” Then comes something from an earlier, more jerky-sounding Bangles, with their little-known song “Want You,”—which is ’80s girl shit all the way, belonging somewhere between punk rock and surf boogie. It is by far my favorite song of theirs, and has never gotten old to my ears. It’s the energy of it, maybe.
But things are not always so great with the skate. Since almost every ’80s movie had to have their crap ballads, we must sit through “Don’t Think Twice,” which, if ever there was a love theme needed for a rip-off Romeo and Juliet on skateboards, this is it. But the song doesn’t reach the levels of sap as much as “Let the Love Begin,” which is used for the movie’s love scene, but in all actuality would make you go limp as a noodle or drier than dirt.
There are some real jams in here though, despite the saccharine. “Wild in the Streets,” by The Circle Jerks makes for some great chase music. Also, Fear’s “Hey,” “Burnin’,” by Rebel Faction, “Playground,” by The Truth, Jimmy Demers’ “Arrow Through Your Heart,” and finally The Red-Hot Chili Peppers’ funk-fuelled thrash of “Black-Eyed Blond” makes up for any lost street credit, but since this is Thrashin’, I suppose street cred went out the window from the beginning. Oh well. Cool is overrated.
Armed with an original copy of the vinyl, I walk over to the turntable and select the Fright Night Soundtrack for the night’s listening pleasure. What do I hear? Light-hearted ’80s disco and new wave? A touch of cheese here, another touch there? Is that an electric-keyboard bass in the mix? I hear hoots and howls over some of the tracks. I hear mentions of stakes, hearts, and frightening nights. I hear tales that “You Can’t Hide from the Beasts Inside of You.” This has got to be one of the best companion pieces for a horror movie ever.
A great album as a whole, the stand-outs here are “Good Man in a Bad Time,” “Rock Myself to Sleep,” “Fright Night,” and “Armies of the Night.” But the clear winner has got to go to “Give it Up,” a pumping, 80s-disco creation with screaming guitars and Casio keyboards. The singer sounds black, the song sounds white, and it’s best when turned up to ridiculous levels. The great Devo even throws in a tune for us! This is a must-have for horror and vinyl collectors.
I wanna make it with the bad boys. Shake it with the bad boys, yeah!
Exploitative movies are a treat, and they can produce great music for the culture they are portraying. Skateboarding, breakdancing, ninjas, gangsters, and yes, even Valley Girls. Like, for sure.
When originally released, the Valley Girl soundtrack came in two volumes. Because of this, both volumes suffered greatly. But when you piece the two together, Valley Girl easily gets my vote for the best soundtrack of the 80s, if not of all time. We all have our opinions, and that’s mine, folks. This thing is jammed packed with greats and never makes a wrong turn.
Songs that are every bit as good (if not better) as anything else from the ’80s run through the entire album. “The Fanatic,” “Eye’s of a Stranger,” “Angst in My Pants,” “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime),” “She Talks in Stereo,” “Time to Win,” “Monster of Love,” and “Johnny Are You Queer” are all great tracks that have been criminally slept on, and they deserved just as much airplay as “Electric Avenue” did—which is also on the soundtrack, but I don’t recall if it was on either volume released.
The stand-out track, “Girl Like Me” by Bonnie Hayes, opens the film to help explain the culture we are jumping into, and they couldn’t have picked a better song. It’s playful, stuck up, girly, and can really be considered the theme song for the entire culture. “Melt with You” remains the centrepiece, and is remembered most fondly, but The Plismouls stepped in to round out the seedier side of Hollywood with songs that are just as good, while being a world away from the punk rock that should have been used for Nicholas Cage’s character of Randy. In the end, they are stuck somewhere between power ballads and new wave, and because of this “softening” of the music for his character, they blend perfectly with the rest of the soundtrack.
Before I forget, I would also like to point out that “The Zero Hour,” “Johnny Are You Queer,” “Town Called Malice,” and “Shelly’s Boyfriend” are all great spin material. There really isn’t a bad song in the entire movie; if this is your thing.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
The complete soundtrack (not the released version) to Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a time capsule of what was rocking at the time. It never loses steam as it plays, and one track is just as great as any of the others that follow. Its only flaw, which really isn’t a flaw, was there wasn’t much inclusion of new material when it was released. We have heard some of these songs before—but never at Ridgemont!
“We Got the Beat,” “All American Girl,” “Waffle Stomp,” “Somebody’s Baby,” “Highway Runner,” “Raised on the Radio,” “I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme),” “Never Surrender,” and the hard-hitting rocker “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” by Sammy Hagar are all fantastic, even if they are from mixed genres of rock. But this is a soundtrack to ’80s high school, so that’s that.
To round out the rest of the playlist would be Stevie Nicks’ “Sleeping Angel” and the Oingo Boingo included farewell-anthem “Goodbye Goodbye”. Those guys never disappointed. On a side note, they recently released Fast Times on vinyl again, and it sounds fantastic. Audiophiles rejoice!
That’s the spin for now. As always, thank you for reading. I’ll be bringing five more very soon. I have a feeling the vampires will be back. Pesky bastards.
Take care and crank it loud!