Various Artists: Valley Girl -- Music From The Soundtrack (1983/1994)

Another guilty pleasure, I suppose, but also a pretty great indication of what I was listening to in high school.  Well, sort of; high school was also when I spent my time digging deep in the vaults and trying to get a complete mastery of the entire history of classic rock and prog, so I was hugely into the Who and Pink Floyd and Genesis and... whatever.  But I also managed to keep current as best as I could, and when it came to the new wave hits that dominated the radio and MTV, the Valley Girl soundtrack provides an amazing snapshot of the general ethos (even if the actual music in the movie was different from, and in some ways better than, the more mainstream top 40 new wave-ish stuff that penetrated midwestern radio).

I saw the movie when it came out, around the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, with my friend Patty.  The movie was pretty silly (though great fun in a goofy way), your basic popular girl meets edgy guy from the other side of the tracks and alienates her friends, briefly returning to her awful preppy boyfriend before following her heart; with twenty-something actors (including a young and ridiculous and awesome Nicolas Cage) trying to pass for high school students. 

But the best part of the movie was the music, a nonstop barrage of music both great and terrible but totally perfect for the times.  I think there was an official soundtrack LP released around the time of the movie, but it wasn't until 1994 (long after it had gone out of print) that a CD version came out, with a follow-on CD of additional songs from the film the following year.

The soundtrack has a few personal faves that are great completely independent of the movie's context.  The Plimsouls, who are more power pop than new wave, feature prominently in the film, with "A Million Miles Away" serving as a theme of sorts, and damn that's just one of the best songs ever, isn't it?  The Psychedelic Furs were represented by "Love My Way"; looking back, I don't know if the movie turned me on to the band (and the song) or if I'd already discovered them, but they were one of my favorites at the time, and "Love My Way" is one of those songs that always transports me back to the 80s.  The film also introduced Modern English's "I Melt With You" to American audiences (i.e. me), and it's another simply perfect new wave tune (and, alas, out of character with most of that band's darker, less poppy body of work).

You've also got Josie Cotton's "Johnny, Are You Queer?", the sort of thing that would never fly today, though it's sung with humor and is totally inoffensive.  One of the best songs from the movie, Bonnie Hayes' great lost classic "Girls Like Me," is a joyous anthem that somehow didn't make the cut for the original soundtrack album, held back for the subsequent collection of leftover tracks from the movie.  And I'm a sucker for the Flirts as well.

I can do without a number of the tracks (I can't stand Men At Work, and I've always found Sparks a little grating), but in small doses on a compilation album it's all perfectly fine.

(Hey, fun bit of useless trivia I learned while writing this -- the actor who played the evil, preppy/Aryan boyfriend [Michael Bowen] later played the evil white power meth guy in the last season of Breaking Bad; I knew that guy looked strangely familiar!)

To get you in the spirit of things, here are some clips from the movie set to "I Melt With You":
Here's the scene with the Bonnie Hayes tune:
How about the "Johnny Are You Queer" video?
Here's a live version of that amazing Plimsouls tune:
BTW, the actual official soundtrack album (and its sequel) don't appear to be available on Spotify, but here's a playlist I found which seems to capture most of what's found on the albums: