In Their Eyes
’90s Teen Bands Vs. ’80s Teen Movies
I grew up in the Eighties, so I spent my preteen and early teen years watching movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Valley Girl, and of course, the classic John Hughes flicks, from Sixteen Candles to The Breakfast Club to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. As anyone who lived through those years knows, music played an extremely important part in those films; indeed, from the Psychedelic Furs-inspired title of Pretty in Pink to the classic scene of John Cusack hoisting a boom box over his head in the rain to serenade Ione Skye with Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” in Say Anything… , the music was almost as important as the actors. Very literally, then, most of the songs on In Their Eyes: ’90s Teen Bands Vs. ’80s Teen Movies carry a lot of memories for me. Maybe that’s why I was so disappointed in this record. Virtually none of the tracks carry any kind of emotional resonance. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, these young whippersnappers today just don’t get it.
For example, let’s take the anthemic “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Simple Minds’ memorable competition to The Breakfast Club. It’s taken on here by one of my favorite teen bands, ska-popsters the Gadjits. If I hadn’t heard them before this, I’d have thought they were a bad bar band. They haven’t imprinted their style, nor are they even successful at aping the original — the track is just kind of there. I wonder, though, if I should be thankful for that — other bands attempt to bring something of themselves to the songs, and fail miserably. Round House’s attempt at indie rocking-up Echo & the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses” is as ill-conceived as Echo’s take on the Doors’ “People Are Strange” was back in the ’80s. Don’t even get me started about the Rindelles’ garage-pop version of Modern English’s “I Melt With You” — what were they thinking, changing the lyrics? Even more painful is the Stinky Puffs’ reinterpretation of the lush “In Your Eyes” as an early Siouxsie and the Banshees-styled sparse dirge. Expect similar trauma when listening to the Grown-Ups’ version of “Pretty in Pink” (the classic saxophone riff played on a Casio keyboard? Horrors!), the English League’s robot-rap take on Oingo Boingo’s “Weird Science” (practically a different song, with mostly new lyrics and almost none of the feel of the original — my wife liked it, though), and the Knock-Ups’ remake of “Johnny, Are You Queer?” (although having a guy sing this was a neat twist).
In spite of my complaints, though, there are some interesting tracks here. Dyslexic Crush punk up the power pop of the Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away,” for a nice face to face-ish sound. Phantom Planet’s power pop version of “Somebody’s Baby” is infinitely more interesting than Jackson Browne’s original. Crazy Glue wisely doesn’t tamper much with Yello’s classic “Oh Yeah” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – the result sounds more like a remix than a remake. F.O.N. turn in an infectious ska-punk take on the Cars’ “You Might Think,” while Marigold dress up OMD’s “If You Leave” with some nice atmospheric guitar and male-female harmonies on the chorus. And of course, you can’t go wrong with the Donnas doing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” (although its inclusion here is a double-cheat; the song came out in the mid-’70s, and the movie that justifies its inclusion, the Ramones-starring Rock N’ Roll High School, actually came out in 1979).
Overall, though, In Their Eyes just falls flat. I really think that the main problem with this concept is that kids that are in their teens today didn’t grow up with these movies or this music, and just don’t really have their hearts in these songs. Perhaps the smart thing to do would have been to round up a bunch of twenty-something bands to cover these tunes. Hell, Reel Big Fish did an amusing version of a-ha’s “Take On Me”… Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025; http://www.rhino.com