The 1985 movie Real Genius was a classic, funny film about a fifteen-year-old prodigy who goes to Pacific Tech, a highly lauded engineering school. Mitch Taylor, played by Gabe Jarret, is awkward and doesn’t fit in with the older students. He gets paired up with slacker-genius Chris Knight, played by a young Val Kilmer, and the two don’t exactly get along. Like many comedies of the era, the pair share a series of hijinks and eventually bond over the need to stop an evil plan to misuse a new laser technology. As brilliant as the movie is, the soundtrack was even better. We’re ranking all the songs from the Real Genius Soundtrack.
10. I’m Falling by The Comsat Angels
I’m Falling is from the Comsat Angels 1985 album 7 Day Weekend. The sound of this song is ironically 80s, but there’s something a little bit slow and almost too apropos about the tune and lyrics. You’d expect to hear it in any bar, but not necessarily at a club or concert. Although that’s not bad per se, it was enough to land this song in the number ten spot on our list despite the outstanding flute work.
9. Standing In the Line by Carla Olson & The Textones
Standing In Line is from Carla Olson’s 1984 album Midnight Mission. While the whole piece captures the sense of frustrated waiting you’d expect from the title, there’s nothing that makes it stand out. This is a good song, and it fits the film well, but it’s not great, memorable music that sticks in the back of your head.
8. Number One by Chaz Jankel
The keyboard at the beginning of Number One by Chaz Jankel could be the intro to any 80’s soft-rock playlist. This song comes from the 1985 album Looking At You. It captures the feelings of a wallflower or at least someone who came in a distant second. There’s a pop-sorrow in the way the lyrics flow. Chaz has a great voice, and so do the backup singers. However, it’s the keyboard that steals the spotlight in this tune.
7. The Pleasure Seekers by The System
The Pleasure Seekers is the System’s third album and the name of this upbeat song. Known for its synthesized sound and excellent singing, this duo was underrated even though it saw moderate popularity. Guitarist Mic Murphy had a signature look you couldn’t miss, and keyboardist David Frank had an excellent sense of the oddball electronic, almost futuristic sound that made this song and many others such a bop.
6. Summertime Girls by Y&T
Summertime Girls by Y&T is the sort of happy, girl-crazy rock song that was so characteristic of the 1980s. Its place in Real Genius helped propel the already fantastic and established band into even more tremendous popularity. Superb electric guitar work combined with the sort of drums and singing you would expect to hear in concert gives this tune a classic yet timeless feel.
5. The Walls Came Down by The Call
The Walls Came Down by The Call was a fantastic rebellious tune that’s ideal for Real Genius, but there was a much deeper meaning. This song was incredibly popular on MTV partly because it talked about what was going on in Berlin before the wall came down. Although younger generations don’t remember a time when Germany was literally divided by a wall that represented oppression, it was a hot topic in the early 80s. The wall wouldn’t actually come down until several years later, in November of 1989, so this 1983 song was quite literally calling for a revolution that hadn’t happened yet. It’s easy to lose perspective after the fact, but music like this helped propel that vital political action.
4. You’re the Only Love by Paul Hyde and the Payolas
You’re the Only Love came from The Payolas’ 1985 album Here’s the World for Ya. This smooth, sweet love song was a favorite among young couples at the time and peaked at #84 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart that year 1985. A whole generation of lovers grew up together to the sound of this song and others like it. The sense of longing and connection is palpable.
3. One Night Love Affair by Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams has one of those beautiful, passionate, slightly gravelly voices that is unforgettable, and he’s an excellent guitar player who knows how to put on a good show. One Night Love Affair is, predictably, about a one-night stand, but one that touched the singer on a deeper level. With themes of life’s unfairness and a night of passion definitely hit the target demographic for this movie, but more than that, it’s just a great song.
2. All She Wants to Do Is Dance by Don Henley
All She Wants To Do Is Dance is almost as well known as our number one choice. Don Henley created a memorable, relatable, upbeat, and fun song, everything a teen comedy should be. One playthrough, and you’ll understand instantly why this song was a perfect match for Real Genius.
1. Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears
Everybody Wants to Rule the World is a spectacular, classic song in its own right. Tears for Fears deserved every bit of the credit they got for this and plenty of other great songs. However, it was at the end of Real Genius that millions of new fans first heard this epic. Let’s set the scene. A purple laser arcs down from the sky, cutting a house nearly in half then lands on and ignites a massive microwave popcorn bag before combusting. The tasty treat spills out of every opening in the home and then literally breaks the house apart leaving the heroes triumphant, and the neighborhood kids almost literally swimming in the largest pile of popcorn ever created. Then Everybody Wants to Rule the World plays. The villains’ hopes are dashed and everyone gets a salty snack to celebrate. The only thing that would make this a better ending is if the popcorn was real. As it turns out… it was.
Now that you know the songs, we recommend checking out the movie. Real Genius doesn’t have the billion-dollar budget and 4KHD special effects it would if they made it today, but it’s still a humorous and delightful film. There’s a definite campy vibe to the child-genius goes to college plot. Still, this movie helped pave the way for 1989’s Doogie Howser MD and other programs featuring prodigal kids.