This class concludes Prof. Leah Greenblatt’s week-long course covering the most memorable coming-of-age film soundtracks of the last 50 years. Study up on these films, whose soundtracks mix classic and contemporary hits, catch up on the classes you missed (listed below), then take our final exam to see how much you learned. Come back all summer long for more EW U courses on Harry Potter, Twilight, and more.
When Baby(Jennifer Grey) arrives at a Catskills family resort in 1963, America is on thecusp of countless cultural changes — few of which involve oddly ‘80s bands andsynth-riddled songs like “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” and “She’s Like theWind.” Still, 1987’s Dirty Dancing became one of the most successful soundtracksof all time, and for a good reason — its mix of familiar ‘60s classics (TheRonettes‚ “Be My Baby”), lesser-known time-capsule treasures (Mickey &Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange”), and thoroughly modern — at the time, atleast — compositions (Alfie Zappacosta’s “Overload,” Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes”),hit a chord, spending 18 weeks at no. 1. Heck, even Patrick Swayze’s moonyballad was a hit.
As for 1978’s Grease? Though the film is set in 1958,and the majority of the soundtrack’s beloved songs are faithfully ‘50s, thetitle track was written by one of the most definitively ‘70s hitmakers, the BeeGees’ Barry Gibb, and its groovy, chugging beat is nearly as Studio 54-ready asOlivia Newton John’s infamous satin-spandex pants in the finale scene. The moviedid, however, have goofy flashback act Sha Na Na to bring back the ersatzdoo-wop on tracks like “Born to Hand Jive” and “Rock ‘n Roll Is Here to Stay.”
For Reference: Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, “I’ve Had theTime of My Life”; Maurice Williams, “Stay”; “You Don’t Own Me” (originally sungby Lesley Gore, though the soundtrack contains a version by
new-wave Brits the Blow Monkeys); Frankie Valli, “Grease”; Sha-Na-Na, “Blue Moon”; Jeff Conaway and JohnTravolta, “Grease Lightnin’.”
Extra credit viewing: Marie Antoinette,in which innocent teen Kirsten Dunst becomes the ”Let them eat cake” queen oflegend to the highly stylized, deliberately out-of-time sounds of New Order, theStrokes, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
For discussion: What are your favorite decade-hopping soundtracks?
More on coming-of-age film soundtracks from EW University:
At the Hop:Mid-Century Nostalgia
Closerto Groovy: Cruising into the ’70s
Totally‘80s: The Greed Decade Goes Pop
The1990s: Rocking Out in the Irony Age
TheIndie Aughties: “This song will change your life”
Final exam:Test your knowledge of teen angst anthems