This was featured in the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club. Directed by John Hughes, it featured many members of the "Brat Pack," including Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, and Judd Nelson. The song is so associated with The Breakfast Club, that it is often used in movies or TV shows any time they reference the movie, often with a parody of the iconic ending shot where Judd Nelson throws his fist in the air, which might be the most famous freeze-frame in movie history (Rocky 2, where Rocky and Apollo are frozen mid-punch is also up there). Examples include the TV shows Scrubs, Psych, 30 Rock and Family Guy, and the movies American Pie and Easy A. In the 2001 film Not Another Teen Movie, which even features a cameo by Molly Ringwald, the version in the movie was performed by Sprung Monkey.
This was written by Steve Chiff along with Keith Forsey, who also wrote "Shakedown" for Beverly Hills Cop II
and the title song to Flashdance... What a Feeling
. Forsey had just become drummer of The Psychedelic Furs and produced their album Mirror Moves
, which led to another John Hughes connection: Hughes found out about The Psychedelic Furs when he used "Don't You (Forget About Me)" in The Breakfast Club
and discovered that Forsey wrote it. The next year, he used their 1981 song "Pretty In Pink
" as the title to his next movie, which gave The Furs a huge career boost.
Simple Minds had been around for five years and developed a strong following in England when this was released. The song was much more bombastic and radio-friendly than their previous material, and alienated many of their core fans, but was a breakthrough hit in the US for the band, where it was by far their biggest hit.
This was originally offered to Billy Idol and then to Bryan Ferry (from Roxy Music) to perform, but both declined. Forsey was a big fan of Simple Minds, so he tried to get them to perform the song, which they did at the insistence of their record company. (thanks, Gavin - East Lansing, MI)
Jim Kerr, the group's lead singer, was married to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders when this came out. He was later married to the actress Patsy Kensit, who divorced him and took up with Liam Gallagher of Oasis.
This got a ridiculous amount of radio play, partly because it was played on both Rock and Top 40 stations. It continues to get played on Classic Rock, Modern Rock, and even Top 40 radio stations. When songs are tested by stations to determine if audiences like them, this consistently does very well, which keeps it on the air.
The prom scene in the 1986 John Hughes movie Pretty in Pink
was shot to this song, which might explain why the dancing doesn't follow the music of the song that was used: "If You Leave
" by OMD. Andy McCluskey
of OMD told us: "The song had to be 120 BPM cos that's the tempo of 'Don't You Forget about Me,' which is the track they actually shot the prom scene to. Unfortunately, the editor obviously had no sense of rhythm because they are all dancing out of time in the final film."
Season 7 American Idol
winner David Cook recorded a cover of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" as the farewell song for the 10th season of the reality television music competition. The song was chosen by American Idol
creator and Executive Producer Simon Fuller and made available for sale on March 8, 2011. Cook told The Hollywood Reporter
: "When I was approached about that song, my first thought was how iconic it is. Every time I hear that song I think of Judd Nelson on the football field with his fist in the air. How do you make it your own without completely bastardizing the original? It was an interesting experience. I'm extremely happy with the end result. It was a lot of fun to record. We got Kenny Aronoff on drums and Neal came in and helped cut some of the guitars. With Matt Squire's help - he was on board as a producer - we went in, had fun with it and tried not to worry about the inevitable pressure associated with that song. It was a huge honor."
Despite the band's then popularity in the UK and Europe, back in 1984 Simple Minds remained essentially unknown in the United States. The band was signed to A&M Records, who were venturing into movies, and they came up with a song which they thought might break the band across the Atlantic. However Jim Kerr and his bandmates had reservations about the track. He recalled to Spinner UK: "To A&M's credit, they came to us and said 'Look, we should have been more behind your early records. We sense that there's a real feel for this band in America and we want to get the momentum going.' But we were only at work on a new record - we didn't have one yet. So they told us about this great movie and this great song. We said, 'Whoa, hold on. We write our own songs.' They told us to just take a listen. So they sent a demo of 'Don't You Forget About Me.' Don't get me wrong, the melody was there, but it was a very different beast that ended up with the big intro and the big coda and all that."
Simple Minds refused to record the song and only changed their minds when Keith Forsey paid them a visit. Said Kerr: "Keith Forsey, who produced the song, he would not give up. He paid for his own trip to Glasgow to come see us, unannounced, and said, 'Look, I'm not giving up. I want you to do this.' We liked Keith more than we liked the song. And because we liked him, we said, 'Let's give it a go.' We went in one afternoon, came up with the intro, came up with the big middle, came up with the coda and it was done and dusted in about three hours."
Simple Minds didn't think much of the song and dashed off their version in an afternoon. The song's "la-la-la" coda arose when Kerr gave up trying to write new lyrics.
Molly Ringwald released an album of standards in 2013 called Except Sometimes, which featured a cover of this song. Ringwald wanted to pay tribute to John Hughes and integrate her past by covering the song.
In 2005, Punk Rock band Yellowcard recorded this live from the MTV Video Music Awards as part of a 20th anniversary special for The Breakfast Club. Clips from the movie were shown during their performance. (thanks, Charlie - Las Vegas, NV)