The 16 Songs That Make John Hughes' Movies the Universal Teen Soundtrack. By the mid-'80s, America was experiencing the most expensive (and dopey) existential crisis in history; Ronald Reagan was halfway through two terms in office, greed was good, and the Valley Girl turned the Sherman Oaks Galleria into the epicenter of her sweater-boot wearing universe. But then John Hughes, a Midwesterner with a knack for the sardonic portrayal of grown-ups, took the materialistic excess of the 1980s and turned it into fine art. Like a great pop songwriter, Hughes plucked our heartstrings through the combination of music and images, beginning with Sixteen Candles in 1984. Hughes' run of teen movie masterpieces ended in 1987 with Some Kind of Wonderful, but in just three years, via six very special films, he documented teen angst through a kaleidoscope of MTV-style vignettes that turned the suburbs into Neverland: a place where powerless parents were overrun by teenagers listening to British new wave.
Hughes' obsession with new wave gave teenagers a lasting soundtrack of memories. Thirty years after his first teen movie, we decided to excavate his canon and identify the best moments—a sweet 16 of songs that celebrate the 30-year anniversary of when Jake Ryan told Samantha Baker, over a Thompson Twins ballad, to make a wish.