A friend of mine pointed out that the petulant teen at the center of James Cameron’s arguably ridiculous “Terminator 2” had posters on his wall of Public Enemy, Guns `N’ Roses and New York City’s own frowny Prong. My friend considered this incongruous, suggesting that G’N’R didn’t sit well with the other two, although I could easily understand how a teenage-nogoodnick would like all three of those bands simultaneously. I certainly did.
Musically-speaking, during my senior year of high school in 1984, I was going through a “Sophie’s Choice”-like dilemma. Though I was still deeply enamored of lots of slackjawed metal bands, I’d become much more enthused about the still-percolating early hardcore scene (which wouldn’t flame out and splinter until another year or two, depending on who you ask). I was also into a bunch of skinny-tied new wave bands and even the odd prog ensemble. Witness my bedroom wall below from the summer of 1984, shamelessly flying the colors of the richly un-hip Marillion next to Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols and, of course, Killing Joke. (A bonus quiz for punky trainspotters: There are lyric-sheet posters from three different hardcore compilations in this picture. Can you name the three compilations?)
Anyway, I countered my friend’s “T2” citation with what I perceived as a more extreme example, that being the room of the celebrated protagonist of John Hughes’ 1986 masterpiece, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Alongside lots of the afore-cited clichéd detritus in his room, the evidence that adorns the walls suggests that our Ferris was a bit of an eclectic music head. While he may have been prone in the film to croon and lip-synch old timey standards like Wayne Newtown’s “Danke Schoen” and perennial Beatle ditties like “Twist & Shout,” the décor on Bueller’s wall suggests some comparatively exotic fare.
Even upon my first viewing of the iconic coming-of-age opus, my eyes immediately spotted the tune-specific items in Bueller’s room. There are three that are hard to miss: A massive promo poster for the “Slave to Love” single by Bryan Ferry, a large poster advertising Micro-Phonies, the album by industrial pioneers Cabaret Voltaire and a third featuring the heavily bequiffed likeness of since-forgotten Charlie Sexton. Of this unholy triumvirate, I’d say it’s Bryan Ferry that made the most sense. Like Ferry himself, Bueller is a sharply-dressed debonair cat. I can see how Ferris would be a fan of his. Cabaret Voltaire, meanwhile, are kind of a different story. Though 1984 ‘s Micro-Phonies is a comparatively poppy affair next to their earlier electronic work, it’s still pretty left-of-the-dial stuff. Then again, Ferris is a resident of suburban Chicago, home of the seminal industrial label, Wax Tracks.
Closer scrutiny around the Bueller boudoir reveals promotional posters by Killing Joke (specifically the mini-flyer that came with the 12” of 1985’s “Love Like Blood Single,” although it looks like Ferris cut it up to make it fit the space), Simple Minds, synth-duo Blancmange, The Damned (specifically the Phantasmagoria album) and a couple by goth-popsters, Flesh For Lulu.
Overall, it seems the set-director was either given a directive to scout for “haircut bands,” or perhaps these were just personal favorites of director John Hughes, renowned for being particular about the music played and represented in his films.
Still…. Charlie Sexton? Fail.
Bearing all this mind, it being the 80’s, Ferris would have doubtlessly made a few mixtapes. Based on his taste in interior decorating, I’d imagine the playlist being something like the below.
LIFE MOVES PRETTY FAST - THE MIXTAPE:
"Sensoria" by Cabaret Voltaire
"Slave to Love" by Bryan Ferry
"Kings & Queens" by Killing Joke
"Up on a Catwalk" by Simple Minds
"Beat So Lonely" by Charlie Sexton
"Street of Dreams" by The Damned
"Living on the Ceiling" by Blancmange
"I Go Crazy" by Flesh for Lulu
"Danke Schoen" by Wayne Newton