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30 Years Ago: ‘The Lost Boys’ Delivers a Soundtrack for the MTV Era

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A cursory internet search turns up more than a little romantic reminiscing about the soundtrack to 1987’s teen vampire flick, The Lost Boys. And, although this is a far cry from the Mandela Effect, just about everyone remembers this music being more sinister, spooky and strange than what is actually on the album.

The memories of then-teens and tweens have turned out to be as misleading as a vampire’s reflection. Instead of blood-sucking, goth-rocking ’80s swagger, the reality is The Lost Boys soundtrack serves up hearty servings of meathead rock, along with Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm and lots of saxophone solos. Or maybe this album simply proves that 1987 was the last year a rocking sax solo could be considered cool.

Because, with a few decades of hindsight, the track listing to The Lost Boys soundtrack doesn’t read like something that ever would have been considered cool. The aforementioned Gramm underscores a motorcycle chase with “Lost in the Shadows (The Lost Boys).” With the help of a chintzy horn synthesizer, once and future Who singer Roger Daltrey covers Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (because vampires, get it?). And bodybuilding sax man Tim Cappello gets to oil his pecs and toot his own horn on a version of the Call’s “I Still Believe.” His over-the-top performance in the film’s concert scene proves that at least director Joel Schumacher thought that the kids (undead or original recipe) still enjoyed a squealing sax. But then, Schumacher is also the guy who gave us bat-nipples in the next decade.

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Maybe the soundtrack doesn’t appear totally out of touch. Just as stars Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland and the Coreys (Haim and Feldman) would break out with the help of this movie, soundtrack contributors INXS were mere months away from global superstardom with the release of Kick. If an Easybeats cover from the ’60s (“Good Times” with an assist from fellow Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes) wasn’t the hippest thing going, perhaps Schumacher thought it would embody his SoCal vampire’s party animal lifestyle. It helped that INXS were signed to Atlantic Records, the label that released the soundtrack in July 1987.

Meanwhile, Echo and the Bunnymen’s cover of the Doors’ “People Are Strange” and Gerard McMann’s theme tune (“Cry Little Sister”) come the closest to delivering what you’d expect from a stylish, sexy ’80s vampire movie – or at least that iconic movie poster. After all, these vamps worship the Lizard King and a synthy, brooding ballad with a children’s chorus is about as “goth” as this film was going to get.

So why is this hodgepodge of a soundtrack so glowingly, if inaccurately, remembered? MTV certainly had something to do with the success. By 1987, it was abundantly clear that music television and the silver screen were having a mutual effect on each other, with videos that began to take a more cinematic tone and movies that delivered MTV-esque musical sequences. The Lost Boys was a pinnacle of this blood-sucking synergy, as Schumacher directed videos for the bands on the soundtrack and clips from the movie accompanied songs in high rotation on the cable network.

When the horror-comedy became a hit, everything it touched became cool, definitely among its most dedicated fans in a certain age range. But then the spell wore off, The Lost Boys became a sort of campy (if influential) relic and its accompanying soundtrack headed for the bargain bin. Not even a healthy dose of ’80s nostalgia can quite resurrect Cappello’s oversexed sax.

Top 40 Albums of 1986

Next: 10 Surprisingly Good '90s Soundtracks

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