30 Years Ago: ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ Arrives with a Classic (and Never Released) Soundtrack
They've become something of a lost art since the late '90s, but multi-artist soundtrack albums were consistent sellers in the '80s — and Ferris Bueller's Day Off could have been one of the best.
Writer-director John Hughes had always used music heavily in his films, and he elevated soundtrack selection to an art form with earlier hits like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science. That tradition continued with Bueller, which made brilliant use of an eclectic bunch of tracks that ran from techno-pop (Yello's "Oh Yeah," making one of the first of what would become countless film and TV appearances) to oldies like Wayne Newton's version of "Danke Schoen" and the Beatles' cover of "Twist & Shout."
The latter was used so effectively, in fact, that it helped propel the song back into the Top 40 during the late summer of 1986 — an unexpected radio success that could have been just one of several from a soundtrack album including cuts from General Public, the Dream Academy, and Big Audio Dynamite. The only problem? There was no Ferris Bueller's Day Off soundtrack album.
The reason, as Hughes explained years later, was that – over the protests of record execs who wanted a tie-in hit — he decided the songs he'd assembled for the movie were simply too eclectic to make sense on a single LP. "I thought 'who'd want all of these songs?' I mean, would kids want 'Danke Schoen' and 'Oh Yeah' on the same record?" he recalled. "They probably already had 'Twist and Shout,' or their parents did, and to put all of those together with the more contemporary stuff, like the (English) Beat – I just didn't think anybody would like it."
Hughes' intentions were noble, but with the benefit of hindsight (and in the era of genre-busting, algorithm-driven shuffling), it's obvious plenty of people would have loved to own a Bueller soundtrack — and some of them have gone ahead and assembled one anyway. Officially speaking, all we'll ever have are a small number of 7" singles Hughes sent out to fan club members, but thanks to the magic of YouTube, the next best thing is never more than a click away. Hit "play" up top and celebrate Ferris Bueller's 30th anniversary with a trip down musical memory lane.
6/22 Update: How's this for timing? According to Consequence of Sound, La La Land Records and Paramount Films will team up to release the soundtrack and score to Ferris Bueller's Day Off at some point this fall.
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