Best of 80’s Soundtracks: Volume 1

Inspired By the Best Teen Films from My Favorite Decade

Bonnie Barton
4 min readJun 15, 2018

Today’s story highlights a handful of totally tubular 80’s tunes — expected AND unexpected picks from some of my favorite films from my teen years.

Read on to re-live the awesomeness of 80’s music and movies! Is there a better time for a story like this than the hot, sweaty, sunny days of summer?!?

And, yeah, I knew within 60 seconds of writing that title there would DEFINITELY be more volumes (aka mixtapes)!

Every year the iconic Paramount Theater on Congress Avenue just steps from the Texas Capitol Building shows “old” movies.

Several years ago they added movies from the 80’s. As I was scrolling through the list for that summer’s upcoming flicks, I gasped.

It wasn’t for Hitchcock, Hepburn, Huston, or Hayworth. It was for The Karate Kid!!!

Excitedly I made my way downtown on the appropriate day. Very early, natch, to reserve a prime seat.

It was a sweltering 106 degrees. As I approached the building, I saw a clump of people. Faux Cobra Kais! Doing a demonstration. For a small audience. In 106 degree weather. In full sun.

In that moment I realized that I was not the biggest Karate Kid fan after all. I quickly moved passed the spectacle into the AC to grab my popcorn and seat.

Nonetheless, I ADORE this movie and always get PUMPED when I hear this song! “You’re the Best” — you’re still the best, Danielson and Mr. Miyagi!

Less than Zero is sexy, bleak, fashionable, and tres chic. The soundtrack is hit-or-miss, but the Bangles’ “Hazy Shade of Winter” and “Goin’ Back to Cali” are stand-outs. (In fact, I previously wrote an entire story devoted to “Hazy Shade of Winter.”)

Goin’ Back to Cali” might be the sleekest rap song ever written.

It remains a mystery why fame alluded the stellar Comsat Angels. U2 and Martin Gore (of Depeche Mode) are BIG fans of Comsat Angels, so that gives you a sense of what a travesty it is that they never “made it.”

From Real Genius, “I’m Falling” is an airy, sultry love song.

Let’s just get this out of the way: Nick Cage was really pretty hot circa Valley Girl days. If you’re into lanky, slightly intense, quirky dudes…and I am! Granted, by the turn of the century, he’d morphed into a caricature of himself. But back in ‘82? Not too shabby.

C’mon. This montage is adorable! Admittedly “I Melt With You” is played out. Somehow in the context of this flick, though, it’s as charming and fresh as it was all those years ago.

One of the best crossover hits for alternative music. And still one of the most recognizable from that era.

My Facebook friends know that I am OBSESSED with Annie Golden’s “Hang Up the Phone.” One of the forgotten tunes from the Sixteen Candles soundtrack.

I cannot even handle this video. Yuppy, preppy, vibrant, exuberant. This is amped up to 1000, but the truth is this isn’t that far off from the mid-80’s I remember.

The bright, off-kilter world of Benetton and Esprit. Violet, fuschia, turquoise, hand-written notes, old school corded phones, geometric shapes, black and white decor.

It’s possible this is the most charming song of the entire decade!

I always found Fast Times at Ridgemont High really depressing.

But there are some iconic characters (eg, Spicoli — read here for my own Spicoli tale), unforgettable scenes, and great music! It’s certainly a classic even if it’s not my fave.

I do, however, LOVE Jackson Browne. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t like “Somebody’s Baby.” Even people who don’t listen to a lot of his music seem to really respond to it.

It’s certainly one of the catchiest songs from the entire decade and instantly recognizable.

A bonus song from Sixteen Candles! I think “If You Were Here” is one of the most exquisite, ethereal songs ever written. It is stunning and gorgeous!

The Thompson Twins honor their spiky synth sensibilities but add in one of the prettiest melodies of the entire 80’s alternative scene. The lyrics are perfection avoiding being too sappy and saccharine. The vocal delivery starts with a lovely timidity building into a confident, joyous endeavor.

It really is an extraordinary song played against one of the most romantic scenes for my generation.

Thanks to Niki Marinis who inadvertently inspired this fun musical exploration with her recent story:

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Bonnie Barton

Queen of mixtapes. Lover of music, travel, and fashion. Authentic sharer of life lessons and dating foibles.