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SoundTRAX: "Weird Science"

The "Weird Science" soundtrack has two boys reacting in excitement to a sexy woman.
MCA Records
Universal Pictures

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

If you were of age in the '80s, there was only one filmmaker that mattered. One that seemed to understand the trials and heartbreak of The American Teenager like no other.

I am, of course, talking about the inimitable John Hughes.

This is the guy who wrote, produced or directed— sometimes all three— cultural touchstones like National Lampoon's Vacation, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and Home Alone.

But even a genius can make a few clunkers, and one of them was released on this day in 1985: Weird Science.

I know, I know— many of you remember this one fondly. And I'm willing to bet it's because you're a male.

Sure, there was frequent Hughes collaborator Anthony Michael Hall, plus a young Bill Paxton and Robert Downey, Jr., but even they can't overcome the ick factor of two teen boys bringing a computerized version of their "ideal woman" to life.

But here's the thing about John Hughes movies: even when they are a swing and a miss, the music seldom is.

It's very '80s but not as predictable as you might think, with several well-known artists like Kim Wilde, Wall of Voodoo, and The Lords of the New Church performing lesser known tracks, while R&B singer Cheyne covers Prince's "Private Joy." And there are a few tunes from mostly-forgotten bands like The Broken Homes, The Wild Men of Wonga, Taxxi, and Max Carl.

But there is only one that could possibly be today's SoundTRAX.

The song was inspired by a phone call from director Hughes asking Danny Elfman to write a song for his movie of the same name. Elfman claimed to have "heard the whole thing in [his] head" by the time he ran home to his studio to record what would become the film's theme song.

So for the 38th anniversary of Weird Science, today's SoundTRAX selection is Oingo Boingo with the title song.

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.