69 Love Songs #3
by Oliver Rose
Photo Credit: The Snipe News
Oh, lucky you. This week’s selection of three ‘songs-about-love’ from sixty-nine, are united by two common themes – not only is each a carefree, American rock thumper, but they’re all in the key E for your listening pleasure (seriously, love that flow, I engineered it for you…)
1. Scott Pilgrim – Plumtree
I’m afraid I must begin with a confession of sorts: this is not actually one of my much-fabled favourite ‘songs-about-love’. It is however, an essential precursor milestone to my favourite film about love. The literary universe of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is, much like the other songs on this list, superfluously dumb; a rakish, unlucky-in-love teenager fights his crush’s seven evil exes in his intrepid quest for unending romance and self-discovery. The film is shrouded in comic book hyperbole, lifted directly from the hand-drawn source material, but its silliness is never offensive; it’s a film, and a story for that matter, that refuses to take itself all that seriously and, subsequently, it’s very easy to enjoy it over and over again. Plumtree’s song actually has nothing to do with either the books or the film, insomuch as it actually came first and was creator Bryan Lee O’Malley’s inspiration to create the character we now know and love. It’s a straightforward post-grunge US indie track, with some sweet vocal melodies and crunchy guitar bits. Crucially however, it’s in the key of E, which given the difficulty I had forming this week’s playlist-within-a-playlist, practically saved my soul. The next two songs, you see, fit perfectly with one another; any third song I tried seemed unwelcome. Plumtree don’t exactly solve this problem, but by way of their connection to a film that does, Scott Pilgrim is (albeit inadvertently) now one of my coveted sixty-nine…
2. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
Teenage Dirtbag is utterly seminal. A bonafide anthem of adolescence, its massive insincerity also means it can’t be beat – Weezer always seem slightly too serious; Blink-182 can’t help but come across a fraction too crass. Wheatus however, strike the balance perfectly. On one hand, we’ve got the entirely ridiculous: Brendan B. Brown’s falsetto impersonation of the song’s pseudo-antagonistic babe, the crashing car sound effects during the verse about the ‘dick boyfriend’ and, noteworthily, the ‘gun’ he brings to school, which is censored from virtually every edit of this song with a DJ scratch. On the other hand, for all its tongue-in-cheek lil’-buggery, there are moments of exquisitely real forlornness; “man, I feel like mold” is just poetry. Plus, there’s that whole Iron Maiden thing, which is really quite relatable for most adolescents; who hasn’t, at one time or another, been obsessed in equal parts with a hugely famous rock band and a gorgeous girl, lightyears out of their league? As if all that weren’t enough postmodern pop to poop yer damn pants, Teenage Dirtbag is a banger and the hook is excellent. That the resolution is so damn happy here – well, it’s the cherry on top. Just like the flying car at the end of Grease, there’s room to be cynical about Teenage Dirtbag, and Wheatus generally (who ever heard of ‘em again, right?)…but, like…why even bother, man?
3. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne
Fountains of Wayne. Who’d have thought a band with that name would be hit-makers. Well they were. And, their solitary hit is one you love. Go on – pretend you don’t (congratulations – you’re a dirty liar). Yes, sir – underpinned by a Carole King-standard bubble-gum pop-song structure (complete with cursory and climactic key change), this 2003 anthem is not only in the same key as the equally goofy delights aforementioned, but it’s easily the silliest and most loveable pop-punk track of the new millennium. Our narrator is heroically honest; painfully self-aware; crushingly deluded. Better still, the images of his despairing, unrequited love – Stacy’s mom, “with just a towel on”. As if to hammer home the perfect hormonal imbalance of this whole thing, there’s also a great video, in which…well, it’s rude, but watch it – on American Pie, it’d be coarse; here, it’s like the best joke Tom DeLonge was never quick-witted enough to tell. God, just think… for the thousands of wounding stabs made at humour throughout the ugly nu-metal years, there is a single Fountains of Wayne punchline to better them all. As to its ‘lovey’ qualities? Well, Stacy’s Mom is all about a guy whose girlfriend is side-lined by the aesthetic superiority of her (single) parentage – combined with an enduring, anthemic hook, this is one for the history books quite frankly. When that sharp note hits in the chorus, there’s suddenly a devastating conviction to this whole sorry affair – “Stacy, can’t you see!?“The insistence, despite the subject matter, is anything but hilarious. And so, just for having me tangibly imagine actual agony behind a Mrs. Robinson-style fancy, Stacy’s Mom makes my list. After all – she does have it going on…
Listen to the PearShaped 69 Love Songs playlist below.