June 1985: 'St. Elmo's Fire' Offers New Horizions for the Brat Pack

The 'St. Elmo's Fire' soundtrack
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Atlantic Records

On June 28, 1985, one of the defining films of the “Brat Pack” era - St. Elmo’s Fire - hit movie theaters. While the movie itself was successful, so too was its soundtrack, which spawned two hit singles and helped cement David Foster as a man who knew his way around the scoring of a motion picture.

For the film’s title track, Foster selected John Parr as a potential singer, having been a fan of Parr’s earlier single “Naughty, Naughty,” but Parr wasn’t a fan of the song that Foster initially intended to use. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times at the time of the soundtrack’s release, Parr described the original song as sounding “like ‘Fame II’ or ‘Flashdance II. I thought the movie was supposed to have more class than that. It was a regurgitated song, and I didn’t really want to sing it.”

In turn, Parr and Foster sat down to try penning a song together, and not only did they succeed, as history reveals, but they actually put the track together - we’re talking writing, recording, and editing it - within a 24-hour period. One of the predominant sources of inspiration: a video Foster showed Parr about Canadian athlete Rick Hansen, who was traveling around the world in his wheelchair to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries. The name of that tour? “Man in Motion.”

While “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” was a major success, topping the Billboard Hot 100, there are those who view Foster’s instrumental love theme for the film as at least as memorable a composition. The song was that rare instrumental which managed to crack the top 20, hitting No. 15 on the Hot 100, but it went even higher on the Adult Contemporary chart, climbing all the way to No. 3.

READ MORE: February 1985: Simple Minds Releases "Don't You (Forget About Me)"

Ah, but do you remember the other artists on the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack? You’d be forgiven if you didn’t, since none of the other songs were released as singles, but for those who never really delved into the track listing, it might surprise you to discover that the album also featured a song by Billy Squier (“Shake Down”) as well as solo tunes by Jon Anderson of Yes (“This Time It Was Really Right”) and Fee Waybill of The Tubes (“Saved My Life”).

In addition, there’s an early composition by Richard Marx, who co-wrote “If I Turn You Away” - performed by Vikki Moss - with Foster, a song by the short-lived group Airplay that’s sung by Peter Beckett of Player, and Elefante, a duo featuring brothers John and Dino Elefante, who up to that point were arguably best known for writing the underrated ‘80s Kansas single “Fight Fire with Fire.”

READ MORE: May 1987: Richard Marx Debuts with "Don't Mean Nothing"

Last but not least, there’s this other David Foster song, and when you hit “play,” your initial thought is going to be, “Wait, this is mislabeled: this is the love theme again.” Except it isn’t. It just reveals that Foster enjoyed a certain musical motif that he maintained throughout his scoring of the film...not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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