“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” could have had many lives before the life it eventually had. But the song had to work hard to be recorded at all. No one particularly wanted to sing it, and it was turned down by the Fixx, Bryan Ferry, and Billy Idol before landing back in the lap of the band Simple Minds, who had initially rejected the idea of recording it, because they wanted to do only their own material. It had been written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff with a film in mind: The Breakfast Club, a movie about five teenagers coming to terms with each other during a stint in Saturday school detention. The crew couldn’t be any more motley, hitting every high school stereotype imaginable: jock, prom queen, nerd, troublemaking outcast, quiet outsider. The song would be pivotal in framing the film, playing once at the opening, and then more prominently at the closing.
In 1985, the year of the film’s release, Simple Minds had seen success in the U.K., their homeland, and even earned some popularity in Australia and Canada. But they were virtually unknown in the US, despite being six albums into their career by the time the year started. They needed a swing at a hit, and so they found themselves with a reject—a song no one wanted, not even themselves.
“The song hanging over the end of the film freezes and crystallizes a moment that the viewer knows might not exist when the sun sets on the weekend.”
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Desperately seeking community in her college years, the writer discovered the world of experimental cinema when she stumbled on a short-film program at an art-house in Manchester, England.