#384 ‘Denise’ by Fountains of Wayne (18 Nov)

Album: Utopia Parkway, 1999

Justification: There’s an amazing interview with Fountains of Wayne‘s songwriting axis Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger at the AV Club where they talk about their jobs writing for other artists, adding that they planned to write a chart-topping ballad for Carnie Wilson – the, ahem, large member of Wilson Phillips – called ‘For All Time’ (the first line of which was to be “For all time, there was always tenderness”) and then reveal to the media that the song was an acrostic. They never got any further, perhaps realising that the joke was far better than the devastatingly cruel reality would be, but the anecdote reveals that FoW – in case you’d missed it – aren’t above putting a joke in their music.

Their self-titled first album is full of them, some wry and plaintive (‘Radiation Vibe’) some a bit more obvious (‘Leave the Biker’), but their second album made it a bit more obvious that they liked a laff or two. Especially this song, which was a backhanded attempt at writing a big dumb power-pop chart song with the shittiest lyrics they could muster (“she drives a lavender Lexus/She lives in Queens, but her dad lives in Texas”) over the most irresistible music and sha-la-la backing vocals possible.

That being said, as it turned out it was actually pretty resistible for most people – especially Atlantic Records who dropped them after this album, but it’s an enduring favourite around the Andrew P Street side of the universe. Also, had Atlantic just had a little more faith, they could have made out like bandits on the merchandising – who wouldn’t love a Devo-style FoW silver jumpsuit? It almost, but not really, allows one to ignore the sexy model being sexy about the sex. At least it’s not as egregious as ‘Stacy’s Mom’, although on the minus side it means I’ve just remembered that fucking song.

I still contend that if you took the four great songs from every FoW album, and pretended that ‘Stacey’s Mom’ never existed, you’d have the best damn pop record ever made.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Goddamn, it’s an essay-length exploration of the jackassery of Billy Corgan accompanying the undeniably awesome ‘Cherub Rock’ by Smashing Pumpkins.


379. Death Cab for Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart (11 Nov)

380. James: She’s a Star (14 Nov)

381. Magnapop: Slowly, Slowly (15 Nov)

382. Pet Shop Boys: Can You Forgive Her? (16 Nov)

383. Spoon: Jonathon Fisk (17 Nov)

4 thoughts on “#384 ‘Denise’ by Fountains of Wayne (18 Nov)

  1. Has any single song been more devastating to a band’s legacy than “Stacy’s Mom”? FoW wrote great, great pop-songs, and even though their albums were spotty they could put together an amazing “greatest hits” record, as you mentioned. But every time you mention them, every time ANYONE mentions them, they are obligated to say that “Stacy’s Mom” is garbage or all cred is lost.

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