Adam Schlesinger’s music was an endless source of joy

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No one could write a belter like Adam Schlesinger. The renowned singer-songwriter, best known for co-founding Fountains of Wayne, is behind some of the most uplifting music of the 21st century. Wednesday morning, he unfortunately died due to complications related to the coronavirus. He was only 52 years old.

From sincere power pop to incisive parody to Broadway pastiche, Schlesinger’s contributions to rock, film and television are nothing short of timeless magic. Quick-witted but always generous-spirited, he wrote ironic hits for real groups (“Stacey’s Mom”), real hits for fictional groups (The Wonders, Josie and the Pussycats, Alex Fletcher) and numbers imaginary musicals for the characters to face BPD (Crazy ex-girlfriend). Numerous Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe nominations and victories can confirm his unique talent as an astute observer with an incredible sense of melody, but the only thing you really need to appreciate is a pair of ears. .

The news of Schlesinger’s death was a shock. Tributes have poured in from all corners of the entertainment industry – from Ted Leo and Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, to Tom Hanks and Stephen King. Pop comrade Jack Antonoff said, “Adam Schlesinger has brought pop music writing to his most chic and untouchable place. An honor to live at the same time that he did his job. “

Schlesinger could turn his hand on just about anything, do it the best and make the world a better place while doing it. It says a lot that the first thing a lot of people wanted to do when they heard the news was listen to its music, which has been a source of endless joy for the past three decades. Here we have compiled some of our favorite selections from his Greatest Hits catalog (AKA all of his discography).

“A bright future in sales” – Fountains Of Wayne

The surfy guitars and the sarcastic words about realizing that you are going to have to grow and sell (while being at heart) have made this song one of my favorite Fountains of Wayne songs for years. Nowadays, neoliberal corporate jargon is a frequent target of mockery – which among us simply did not send a hilarity to a friend Train Guy text on “recording” and “looping” – but Schlesinger did it in 2003, better and funnier than anyone. – Lauren O’Neill

“Ping-Pong Girl” – Crazy ex-girlfriend

Among his countless other accomplishments, Schlesinger was the executive producer of music for the television show. Crazy ex-girlfriend, a musical that ran from 2015 to 2019 and completely reinvented the genre of “musical”, making it Currently Good and breaking its only association with Joy in the minds of most people. With each episode, Schlesinger’s songs sent a new genre – from powerful 80s ballads (“You Go First”) to old Hollywood musicals (the truly overwhelming “Settle For Me”) – their quality often surpassing actual songs. like this.

His greatest achievement in this vein Crazy ex-girlfriend was “Ping-Pong Girl”, an incredibly good piss from 90’s and 2000’s pizzas and pizza kegs, pop punk (“Woah, bros, beer, SPORTS!”), perfectly confusing the “Girl All the Bad Guys Want “Wet dream, and by firmly placing stupidity at the feet of the male gaze (” She’s so independent / This fantasy beats the stewardess. “)

The thing about “Ping-Pong Girl”, however, is that he has this sharp sense of humor while simultaneously being probably the best pop-punk song anyone at the time had. heard for over a decade – and even now, I can think of nothing recent that beats it in terms of melody and pure catchy. – Lauren O’Neill

“Get to the bottom with you” – Fountains of Wayne

When it comes to songs from the mid-90s on the flare-up of the ambient depression, this compares to competition from almost a whole genre. The group’s second single, it is often featured on television shows (see: How I Met Your Mother and more recently The wonderful Mme Maisel) – but given the discrepancy of their first songs, Fountains of Wayne rarely gets their accessories in the halls of glory of alternative rock. Praised at the time but lost in the gigantic cultural heritage of “Stacy’s Mom”, this song – and their entire first album – should be remembered alongside everything that Weezer, Jellyfish or The Lemonheads did at the time. – Emma Garland

‘This thing you do!’ – Wonders

This song was written for the fiction group The Wonders, which appeared in the 1996 film This thing you do!, directed by Tom Hanks. It was a huge success outside of the film, and when you hear it, it’s easy to see why. A little bit of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles, a little bit of pop melancholy by Schlesinger, the song makes me nostalgic for a past I never had, the minor fall of the chorus echoing in my chest as if it was played on a chord rather than a guitar. “That Thing You Do” could be on the soundtrack of every adult film and I would never be bored. – Lauren O’Neill

“Pretend You Are Nice” – Josie and the Pussycats

If we talk about fictional groups, however, Josie and the Pussycats are the best in film history. While “Pretend to Be Nice” is Schlesinger’s only contribution to the 2001 comedy of the same name, it is one of the highlights of the soundtrack. Between the successes of satisfying cymbals, “ooh-ee-oohs” and the solo style Thin Lizzy, it’s simple but compelling – a masterclass of pop songwriting. I also have a weakness for that because, after precisely a drum lesson, I joined a group that covered it for a school talent contest in 8th grade and I have no doubt that it was a flawless interpretation. – Emma Garland

‘Greg’s Drinking Song’ – Crazy ex-girlfriend

Balancing the consciousness of someone who has an alcohol problem with the phrase “I had sex with a bush” is probably difficult in terms of tone, but let Schlesinger show how it works. could be done with what I would call “full plumb”. – Lauren O’Neill

“Let’s generalize about men” – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

An 80s training montage song about dominant feminist platitudes that inspires me to drink a whole bottle of white wine for me while kicking in the living room? Then go. Co-written with show creator Rachel Bloom, this is a good example of how Crazy ex-girlfriend was able to take contemporary discussions on gender and mental health and make them super accessible by writing satirical songs. In this case, functioning as a Reductress item, you can make burpees. – Emma Garland

“Stacy’s Mom” ​​- Wayne Fountains

A few moments in his introductory riff to the silent palm, the ode of Fountain of Wayne to a steaming hot mom became known as a classic song from the 2000s. With its sharp keyboard chords and its harmonies ah-ah , “Stacey’s Mom” ​​captures the euphoric cornea of ​​being almost a teenager. The difficult situation of masturbating like a mallard duck in the water but unable to make nothing more is described as both disturbing and hilarious. Who cannot identify with having their eyes wide open on a boyfriend or an attractive relative of a girlfriend? And who before Fountains of Wayne would have thought of writing a successful single on this subject?

“Stacey’s Mom” ​​was apparently inspired by a childhood friend of Schlesinger who had a crush on a family member: not even his mom, but his grandmother. As he recalls in an interview with MTV in 2003, “One of my best friends, when we were maybe 11 or 12, came up to me and announced that he thought my grandmother was sexy. And I said, ‘Hey, you cross the line,” but at this point in life, I wouldn’t put anyone. “

Far from being their first brilliant song, “Stacy’s Mom” ​​was the first single from the group’s third album, Welcome to interstate managersand propelled them into the mainstream. It is synonymous with his video, featuring supermodel Rachel Hunter as the mother who slowly exits and drips from the backyard pool and gets up in the kitchen for a boy’s pole dance. FHM– certified fantasy.

Today and forever, “Stacey’s Mom” ​​is a mainstay of power pop playlists in bowling alleys, school clubs, karaoke lists and pop-punk parties. And we can thank Schlesinger and his grandmother for that. – Hannah Ewens

@emmaggarland / @hiyalauren / @hannahrosewens



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