Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2226
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This Scottish band came together in 1977 and by 1979 they had a solid line up and a contract with Arista Records. Their debut LP, Life in a Day, did well in the UK getting to #30. Two more albums would follow on Arista before they switched to Virgin. Their first album for the label, Sons and Fascination, broke them a bit further in the UK when it reached #11. But it would be their 1982 album, New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84) that would make them stars in Europe. Featuring two Top 20 UK hits, the album would reach #3 there and go Top 10 in several countries. It set them up for their first UK #1 album in '84 titled Sparkle in the Rain. Despite solid success around the world, the band was virtually ignored in the US. This seemed to have stemmed from the labels not promoting the band in the US. That would change when they recorded this song that was written for the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. Used as the closing song, the single took off when the film became a box office hit. It would hit #1 at both Pop and Rock while reaching #9 at Dance and #36 AC. With the song helping to establish them in the US, the band now had the task of trying to follow up the massive hit.

ReduxReview:  I don't think any 80s pop playlist would be complete without this song. It is an essential hit from the decade. I loved it from the start, but then the thing got so overplayed that I tired of it. I ignored the song for a long time, but then eased it back into my 80s rotation. Simple Minds is not the first artist to dislike one of their hits (see below), but it's like biting the hand that feeds. Without this song, their chances of making it big in the US were minimal. If they didn't like the song, they shouldn't have done it. Since they did, they should have embraced it, especially after it became a hit. I could be completely wrong, but I seem to remember that at one point they tried to stop playing this at their concerts and audiences about revolted. To me it sounded like sour grapes - the song that they would be remembered most for wasn't theirs (and they wouldn't reap the financial benefits of being the writers/publishers either). It sticks in my craw when artists do this. Hey, you guys wanted to be stars, especially in the US, so accept the hit, say thank you, and happily move forward.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written for the film by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff. Originally, they wanted Bryan Ferry to record the song, but he turned it down. It seems Cy Curnin (The Fixx) passed on it as well, as did Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders). It's been said that Billy Idol was also offered the song, but he says that didn't happen (he actually recorded the tune himself in 2001). Then Simple Minds, a band which Forsey loved, was suggested. When approached, the band initially turned the opportunity down because they didn't want to record a song not written by the band and they didn't really like the tune. However, after seeing a screening of the film and some prodding from folks like Kerr's wife Chrissie Hynde and songwriter Forsey, the band convened at a studio and rearranged/recorded the song.  2) Even though this song was a worldwide hit and got them established in the US, the band still didn't like the song (they even left it off their next album, which was released later in the year). In one interview, the band mentioned they were a bit embarrassed by the song's success and lead singer Jim Kerr apparently told a reporter that he wanted to vomit every time they played the song. However, no matter how much they wanted to distance themselves from the tune, it wasn't going to go away. It had become a touchstone song from an iconic 80s film where the end image of Judd Nelson putting his fist in the air being directly associated. However, in later years Kerr has said he recognizes the song's impact and is glad he was able to be a part of that.



  1. I could not agree more with your comments about artists hating their hits. Just as bad as established artists complaining about songs, are one hit wonders who claim their hit didn't "represent them as artists", and that's why they didn't have more hits. What load of bunk. I suspect most, if not all, of them would have been no-hit wonders without their one time in the spotlight.

    1. Yeah, it really bugs me. I can understand if an artist simply gets tired of singing the same song for the 1,000th time, but to hate what brought you success is unjustified, in my opinion. And it taints the song. Whenever I hear this, I still think about how they hated it and it kind of makes me feel bad for liking it. I worked with a hit-making artist for quite a few years and he closed his shows with his signature song. An interviewer once asked him if he got tired of singing that song and he said - "absolutely not. It's the song that truly made my career and people love it. Why would I get tired of it? I owe a lot to that song and it's a joy to sing it every night." He also turned down songs offered to him that later became huge hits for other artists because he didn't like the songs and didn't want to sing them. It's the difference between class and crass.