|First posted 10/19/2020.|
Writer(s): Jim Irvin, Hamilton Lee, Sally Still, Tim Whelan (see lyrics here)
First Charted: June 14, 1986
Peak: 21 UK, 15 CO (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.08 video, -- streaming
About the Song:
No song takes me back to my college days more than this one. Lyrically, it captured the woeful, yet universal, self-pity that adolescents and young adults often succumb to when navigating life and relationships. The opening line “I’m at the stage where everything I thought meant something seems so unappealing” was practically my mantra as an unfocused, question-it-all college sophomore.
Of course, nothing was more gut-wrenching to a not-quite-twenty-something than failed relationship efforts. It was all too easy to wallow in the blame-game nature of the chorus, alternating between saying “you must be out of your brilliant mind” and “they must be out of their brilliant minds.” After all, how could I be the one responsible for my shortcomings?
The song was a minor hit in the UK in 1986, but I didn’t hear it until the re-recorded version featured in Some Kind of Wonderful. That movie, written by the no-one-understands-high-school-more-than-me John Hughes, was a redo on his more popular Pretty in Pink. That film had the nerdy girl pining for the popular guy, but ending up with her even nerdier long-time friend who’d been crushing on her forever. Hughes, however, caved to audiences at early screenings who wanted her to end up with the rich stud and rewrote the ending. Dismayed by his decision, Hughes revamped the story line for Some Kind of Wonderful. This time the main character was Keith, a nerdy art student infatuated with a cheerleader while oblivious to his gal pal’s interest in him.
The “sardonically wistful” WK “Brilliant Mind” surprisingly wasn’t the soundtrack’s centerpiece, despite its perfect encapsulation of teen angst. Musically, it sounds like a natural on ‘80s synth-pop playlists alongside new wave standards like Modern English’s “I Melt with You” and New Order’s “Blue Monday.” However, it came up short there as well, failing to reach the lofty classic status of its contemporaries, although ‘80s music icon Boy George declared it his favorite record of the era. WK The rest of the world may not have noticed it, but I did – and more than thirty years later I still can’t get the song out of my brilliant mind.
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