Don't You (Forget About Me)

Album: The Breakfast Club Soundtrack (1985)
Charted: 7 1
Play Video


  • "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is the big song from the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club. Directed by John Hughes, it features 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 film, often with a parody of the iconic ending shot where Judd Nelson throws his fist in the air (perhaps the most famous freeze-frame in movie history, although Rocky III, 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. The 2001 film Not Another Teen Movie, with a cameo by Molly Ringwald, has a version performed by Sprung Monkey.
  • Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff wrote this song specifically for The Breakfast Club. Forsey, who also co-wrote "Shakedown" for Beverly Hills Cop II and the title song to Flashdance, was in charge of the music for the film. Schiff had been a guitarist in Nina Hagen's band and co-wrote one of her biggest songs, "New York / N.Y."

    Forsey and Schiff wrote a few other songs for the film as well, including "Fire In The Twilight" by Wang Chung and "Didn't I Tell You" by Joyce Kennedy. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was the only hit from the soundtrack, but it was a big one, rising to #1 in the US.
  • In The Breakfast Club, five high school students with very different personalities spend a Saturday together in detention and find some common ground. The question is, will they remember their time together and act any differently around each other when they return to school and face peer pressure to act their roles. Some dialog in the film when they bring this up gave Keith Forsey the idea for the song title.
  • According to Keith Forsey, Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music was his first choice to record this song, but Ferry turned it down. Forsey was also a big fan of the Scottish band Simple Minds, so he tried to get them to record it by delivering a cassette demo.

    At the time, Simple Minds were gaining traction in the UK, with three modest hits from their 1984 album Sparkle in the Rain: "Waterfront," "Speed Your Love To Me" and "Up on the Catwalk." In the US, however, they had no luck, in large part because their US record company, A&M, didn't promote them. An A&R guy at the label named Jordan Harris tried to rectify that by having them record this song (The Breakfast Club soundtrack was on A&M), but the band wanted nothing to with it because:

    1) They didn't want to record a song they didn't write.
    2) Jim Kerr didn't like the lyric (especially the "vanity... insecurity" line).

    So why did they do it? They simply changed their minds. They met with The Breakfast Club director John Hughes and got a screening of the film, which put the lyric in better context. Forsey visited them in Scotland, and they got on well. While there, he convinced them to give it a go, and they recorded the track in a few hours at a studio in London.
  • Simple Minds wanted to use their song "Alive and Kicking" in the film, but "Don't You (Forget About Me)" was written to the script and was the only option, which the band didn't understand at first.

    "We were young, we were a bit brattish, we were insecure," Jim Kerr said on the Songfacts Podcast in 2022. "We were loving what we were doing and thinking, 'Hang on a minute, you want us in 'cause you love us because we write these songs, but you want us to do your song?' We weren't even willing to listen initially. We were like, 'No, we don't do other people's songs. End of story.' And of course, later on it was explained, but the song was written to the script and every time they tried to make it more amenable, it sounded worse, because they would say, 'It sounds really like Simple Minds,' and we would be infuriated. 'How dare you rip us off and then try and sell us on an idea!'"
  • The song got an absurd 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 as a solid recurrent with a huge recognition rating - when songs are tested by stations to determine if audiences like them, it consistently does very well, which keeps it on the air.
  • Getting Simple Minds into the studio to record this song was the hard part, but when they plugged in, the magic happened.

    "Once we go into the studio, we don't know how to do things by half measure," Kerr told Songfacts. "The band was on fire anyway. Anything we jammed on sounded great."

    The intro was especially inspired, with guitarist Charlie Burchill landing a big riff and Kerr ad-libbing the "hey, hey, hey, hey" part.

    "Suddenly it was game-on and we weren't thinking about ourselves, we were just thinking about what's coming out of the speaker, and every time someone did something that was cool, that encouraged us more," Kerr said. "We were kinda looking at each other going, 'It's good this? isn't it?'

    This is the thing with music: You can analyze it and you can come with an attitude - and bands are notorious for politics - but once you start playing and you like how it makes you feel, everything else goes out the window. That's all that counts."
  • The "la-la-la-la" coda was inserted as a placeholder because neither Keith Forsey nor Jim Kerr could think of actual words that made sense. Kerr planned to write a real lyric and record it the next day, but when they played back the song, it was clear the "la-la" section was a winner and had to stay as is.
  • This song broke the band in America and got them on MTV, expanding their fanbase considerably. It was very strange for Simple Minds - who had paid their dues writing songs, playing them in clubs, and knocking on doors to solicit a record deal - to find themselves with a huge hit they didn't write and only worked on for a few hours. They almost felt guilty about it.

    "We thought, We didn't even work for this, we just jumped down there for a couple of hours and now it's #1 on the Billboard charts," Jim Kerr told Songfacts. "It was a Calvinistic way of looking at it. We don't deserve this success. But there's this other thing that says, 'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.' You know, take the break. Listen to all those people who worked so hard for it in the record company and people who believed in it, and the people at MTV who gave us a break and all that stuff. We owe them a ton."
  • 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 Songfacts: "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."
  • The song's co-writer Keith Forsey took over as drummer for The Psychedelic Furs in 1984 and produced their album Mirror Moves that year. When John Hughes found out that Forsey wrote "Don't You (Forget About Me)," he delved deeper into The Psychedelic Furs and discovered the group's 1981 song "Pretty In Pink." He made that the title song to his next movie, which was released in 1986. That gave The Furs a huge career boost and a surprising hit.
  • After gaining a foothold in America with this song, Simple Minds landed another hit there when "Alive And Kicking" went to #3 about six months later. A few minor hits followed in America, but their stronghold remained the UK, where they topped the chart in 1989 with "Belfast Child." Their hits dried up in the late '90s, but a decade later they had a resurgence with a younger lineup and more contemporary sound. Their albums started charting again across Europe and they did a number of successful tours. Lead singer Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill, both founding members, held up the foundation.
  • The music video was directed by Daniel Kleinman, who also did the videos for Paula Abdul's "Knocked Out" and Wang Chung's "Dance Hall Days." Oddly, there is no footage from The Breakfast Club in the video, which takes place in a large room filled with the band members and various television monitors. Simple Minds were never huge on MTV, which had moved away from British acts and were more interested in artists like Madonna and Prince. It was radio that made this song immensely popular in the States.
  • Jim Kerr didn't think this song was up to snuff when he heard the demo, but looking back on it, he's thrilled with its impact on pop culture. "The song and the film are almost iconic to certain generations, especially in America," he told Songfacts in 2014. "So it's great when things come together and work so well. It's been a pleasure to see how much joy that song gives to a lot of people."
  • Jim Kerr was married to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders when this song came out (they got hitched in 1984 shortly before Simple Minds opened for The Pretenders on a US tour). He was later married to the actress Patsy Kensit, who took up with Liam Gallagher of Oasis after she and Kerr divorced.
  • Molly Ringwald released an album of standards in 2013 called Except Sometimes, which includes a cover of this song. Ringwald wanted to pay tribute to John Hughes and integrate her past by recording the song.
  • In 2005, the 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Charlie - Las Vegas, NV
  • 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."
  • The song soundtracked UK catalogue retailer Argos' 2019 "Book of Dreams" Christmas ad. The commercial celebrates the tradition of circling gifts in the Argos catalogue.
  • "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is referenced throughout the TV series 12 Monkeys as a theme song for Deacon (Todd Stashwick), a complicated character who had to prove his trustworthiness to the time-traveling team and often felt rejected by the group. A version by Kelsy Karter is used in the season 4 episode "Demons," and the Simple Minds rendition is used in the series finale, "The Beginning Part 2."
  • This song features in a 2022 Super Bowl commercial for Oculus VR. In the spot, animatronic animals reunite virtually long after their band breaks up.

Comments: 43

  • Armin from GermanyDon't forget Billy Idol's version (on Youtube)
  • Ria5000 from Hampton NhI love this song, always have. There's something almost haunting about it totally fits the movie and love the freeze frame. I'm surprised no one mentioned this song is in Pitch Perfect, in the contest they won at the end in Lincoln center. They did a great job with the song, I thought
  • Steve Tulley from Wiltshire UkLoved this song from the first time I heard it !! Excellent drums from Mel Gaynor
  • Bridget from CoSo this was written about being there for someone.. surprising. I originally thought this was about not forgetting about someone, seeing as a kid who went to my school that is 4 grades ahead of me covered this at the end of the school year for the oldest students (Well, the middle and high school kids are mixed together at my school). I also thought this was called "Don't Forget About Me." Oops!
  • Esskayess from EarthThe "freeze-frame shot" of Rocky and Apollo is at the end of Rocky III, not Rocky II. [Fixed. Thank you. -editor]
  • Melinda from AustraliaNever was there a song that defined the mid 1980’s the most .

    When they talk about 1980’s music, Simple Minds are right up there. If you grew up in the 80’s and had access to Simple Minds music, and loved it, you would know.

    I was also totally hooked on their real early 80’s song, Love Song.
    The song they wrote about America.
    It was so unusual. Atmospheric, romantic almost, and deep. Unlike any the general music around at the time.

    And then their music on The Breakfast Club movie came out. And Simple Minds become much more well known.
    They deserved recognition way before that.
    I personally think their music has been highly influential.
    People who claim, their Breakfast Club era music wasn’t as good. Are just being musical snobs. And splitting hairs. The music Simple Minds made in The Breakfast Club era was just the same. And as good.
    It was just more slick. Cause the recordings were better. From my view that meant you could hear all the clever things they threw into their music.
    And further they were able to make the sound more powerful. Cause Simple Minds music was about powerful energetic sound.
    In my view also, Simple Minds were/are the ultimate, in Scottish musical romanticism.
    And should be remembered that way.
  • Patrick from Wahiawa, HiAt the end of the Futurama episode "Luck of the Fryrish," a the first verse plays as Fry visits the grave of his namesake 7-leaf-clover-lucky nephew.
  • Sion from Tucson, AzMolly Ringwald herself did a cover of this song from her 2013 jazz album "Except Sometimes."
  • Myla from San Diego, CaI never get tired of this songs. One of my all time favs! What would have happened if Billy Idol or Bryan Ferry (as it was mentioned) did the song first? What travesty!
  • Travis from Grandisland, FlGreat Song! Great Band! You can't hear this song and not think of the Breakfast Club! Judd Nelson Rules! I always wanted to walk off a feild somewhere with my fist high in air and this song playing in the background...someday!
  • Jessica from Bloomfield , NjThis song is one of the best to come out of the 80's. It's catchy and the deep sound of it is great.
  • Michelle from Ny, NyThis was used in the Family Guy episode where Peter goes back to high school. Peter does the whole Judd Nelson thing at the end where he raises his fist as he walks across the school yard..
  • Edwoodca from Los Angeles, CaLove the instrumental version running under the voice-overs in the movie. Anyone know if it was ever released, so that I can look for it? The guitar work really stands out when you strip out the lyrics.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesI think you'll find that Keith Forsey and Steve Chiff own the song, NOT Billy Idol. And his version sucks the big one hard. Simple Minds' version is the way to go!
  • Margaret from Worcester, MaI remember the film breakfast club was spoof by the A*Teens and X-Play
  • Megan from Winnipeg, CanadaI love the Breakfast Club. This is my favorite Simple Minds song. They go together good.
  • Abeer from Basra, Iraqthank you very much I'm glad to know you
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkBilly Idol's owns this song. His is much better than SMs.
  • Kent from Toronto, CanadaIt was actually in two large former British colonies (see comment by Dave of Cardiff) that Simple Minds was initially really successful to the point of mega-cult status: Australia and more particularly Canada, where "Love Song" became their first bonafide hit (#15). This song's success led to the re-vamping of the tracklist for "Sons And Fascination" in Canada (erroneously referred to as the "US version"): the far superior running order and selection included 10 tracks, beginning with "Love Song" and including the enigmatic "League Of Nations", while excluding "70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall", "Careful In Career", "Wonderful In Young Life" and "Seeing Out The Angel". By 1984, SM could play four sold-out gigs back-to-back at Toronto's Massey Hall. (U2 was booked for one night only at the hall in the same year, although surely they could have played more shows.) On this tour of Canada, they were of course headliners, supported by China Crisis... for the American leg, they were relegated to a support act of The Pretenders (who would have been lucky at that point to have scored a support spot for Simple Minds in Canada!) "Don't You (Forget About Me)" brought along a whole new audience but the new direction all but killed off the hardcore arty fan base here that in Toronto had voted two albums by the band as best album of the year in the influential CKLN polls: 1981's "Sons And Fascination" (Canadian version) and 1982's "New Gold Dream", a feat which has remained unattained by any other group. In was without question inferior to their highly inventive, thought-provoking, physically infectious music up until that point, so it is (perhaps not?) ironic that this became their first mainstream megahit wordldwide.
  • John from Kirkland, WaMy understanding is this song was written specificaly for The Breakfast Clup and intended for Simple Minds to perform it.
  • Barry from Strange Planet, Hong KongLOL! I was in that band! (Best Company) We got into the dance charts with our version way back in 1992. The dub mix ended up being played for quite a long time on Pete Tong's radio 1 show and we got asked to do loads of appearances because of it. Great song, but I prefered the original! We loved 'The breakfast club'. Now making strange planet vid on
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis is my favourite song of all time by my fave band of all time. Pretty much the only big hit the 'Minds would score in the US, although they were hugely successful elsewhere in the world, particularly their native UK where they have to date scored over 30 hit singles since breaking into the UK Top 20 for the first time in 1983 with "Promised You a Miracle". Certainly one of the more interesting rock bands of the '80s
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesBilly Idol's version is NOT better, no one ever sang this song better than Simple Minds
  • Pytlak from Bakersfield, CaHey Daniel from Australia, I thought the exact same thing.
  • Ed from Lancaster, EnglandBilly Idols version is better.
  • Kevin from Tampa, FlThe reason this song was not included on "Once Upon A Time" is Simple Minds wanted the ablum to sell on its own merrits and not be aided by the success of Don't You, which as previousy stated is a song they didn't like to begin with and only recorded at the insistance of the record company. I have also read that Jim Kerr was specifically turned off by the use of the word "Baby" in "Don't you" and hated using that word.
  • Daniel from Melbourne, AustraliaSimple Minds only lyrical input on this track was the 'La, la, la, la' in the last 20 seconds that repeats until fade. When they play live, that 20 seconds is dragged out to a few minutes and you'd swear that the crowd would never get bored of singing along.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesSimple Minds were huge in the UK right throughout their recording career dating back to 1977, but after not releasing any new material between 1991 and 1995, they lost momentum, although they have continued to record until the present day
  • Mel from South Australia, Australiahmmm i have heard on several occasions that the song was written BY simple minds for 'the breakfast club'...i did a major study on rock history for my year twelve modern history assignment...
  • Neil from MiddlesbroughBest Company did a dance Version in the 90's
  • Becca from Hamilton, CanadaYellowcard's version was amazing. I am not a big Yellowcard fan. But wow. Their version is so amazing.
  • Lee from BournemouthThe end of the Family Guy show where they all do 'Toad' and Peter goes back to high school in the guise of 'Lando Griffin'. Very funny episode! "Gotta give it up, give up the toad now..."
  • Brian from Rochester, NyPunk band Rufio does a great cover on the Punk Goes 80's cd.
  • Dmytro from Toronto, Canadai luv this song its really cool and its just sounds good overall simple minds is a good band and they did a good job in this song.
  • Paul from Galway, IrelandI love this song. we love it overseas. loved the yellowcard version. they performed it at the MTV movie awards and it really hit me... emotionally. They showed clips during the song. UNREAL. btw I'm a basketcase
  • Sarah from Columbia, ChinaWell here is the info. Someone offered Billy Idol to record this song. He said no, but for some reason he recorded it later. (That was after it became popular)
  • Shana from Shreveport, LaBilly Idol's version is so much better.
  • Ryan from Windsor, CanadaWhat Family Guy episode is this song in?
  • Daniel from Werribee, AustraliaWhen I first heard this song I swear to God it was by U2. Listen to it. You will agree with me.
  • Jack from Derry, United StatesThis song was also used at the end of a family guy episode
  • Ari from Elizabeth, NjThis song was also offered to Billy Idol, but he declined. He would then go on to cover it. It can be heard as the last track on his Greatest Hits album.
  • Joe from Selinsgrove, PaThis song was played at the end of an emotional episode of the popular show "Futurama." Almost every song played on this show was from the 80s, because the main character Fry is stuck in that decade.
  • Eric from Glendale, CaBelieve it or not, Jim Kerr felt the song was "campy" and actually didn't like it despite its success. The song wasn't released on their 1985 'Once Upon A Time' album (to which this song ironically helped bolster) but later included it on their greatest hits album. The single's B-side contains a fanbase favorite 'The American' as well as an unacclaimed cut called 'A Brass Band in Africa' which is the beautiful epitome of Simple Mind's melodic side.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Superman in Song

Superman in SongSong Writing

Not everyone can be a superhero, but that hasn't stopped generations of musicians from trying to be Superman.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"They're Playing My Song

Armed with a childhood spent devouring books, Mike Scott's heart was stolen by the punk rock scene of 1977. Not surprisingly, he would go on to become the most literate of rockers.

Jackie DeShannon - "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"

Jackie DeShannon - "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"They're Playing My Song

It wasn't her biggest hit as a songwriter (that would be "Bette Davis Eyes"), but "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" had a family connection for Jackie.

Amy Lee of Evanescence

Amy Lee of EvanescenceSongwriter Interviews

The Evanescence frontwoman on the songs that have shifted meaning and her foray into kids' music.

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," Kiss

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."

Stephen Christian of Anberlin

Stephen Christian of AnberlinSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist for Anberlin breaks down "Impossible" and covers some tracks from their 2012 album Vital.