Monday, September 5, 2011

Revenge of the Thirty-Day Song Challenge - Day 12

Day 12 – A 90’s Song

I briefly skirted by my mild antipathy for 90’s music during Day 11, so I think I’ll clarify my position today. I don’t hate 90’s music or anything, I’m just not a very big fan. I enjoy Native Tongue hip-hop from groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Black Sheep, I appreciate the developments happening in pop music near the turn of the century, and I have no doubts in my mind about the quality of 90’s country music, but that’s about where my enthusiasm ends.

For one thing, I’m not a big fan of the R&B movement that happened during most of the early 90’s. For some reason, groups like Boyz II Men and artists like Mariah Carey never caught on with me, and most songs put out during this time sound terribly dated today—while songs from Boston and Steve Miller can arguably stand toe-to-toe with modern rock ‘n’ roll artists, I wouldn’t think twice about wanting to put a song from someone like Janet Jackson up against one from someone like Beyonce (hell, I wouldn’t put it up against one from Kelly Rowland).

Second, I’m not a fan of grunge. Perhaps it’s because I’m a pop music fan, and grunge runs almost counter to the idea of pop music, but artists like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam simply don’t have enough melody for me to care about them. Not to mention their slightly unorthodox vocal stylings.

Blink-182 – “Josie (Everything’s Gonna Be Fine)”

You know what was good in the 90’s, though? Pop punk. Granted, it was a different breed than the more emotionally-tinged tunes of Fall Out Boy and Jimmy Eat World (your mileage may vary), but the basics were there: fast-paced, energetic songs built with an attention to melody. The 90’s begat many-a decent pop punk acts, including The Offspring, Good Charlotte, and Green Day, who arguably ushered in the whole movement altogether.

Helping lead the post-Green Day pop punk charge was a certain trio called Blink-182, who, in a sea of similar acts, managed to differentiate themselves and achieve both fame and forture as follows: while most late-90’s/early 2000’s pop punk groups wrote bratty, snarky songs about, I dunno, how girls are chubies, or something,* Blink-182 wrote bratty, snarky songs about poop and penises. Again, your mileage may vary.

Occasionally, though, Blink produced semi-romantic love songs, shedding much (though not all) of their sophomoric sensibilities while hanging onto their knack for a good hook. “Josie” is one such track. Really, it’s a very sweet, earnest song about a guy who likes his girlfriend, which seems much more original when delivered vis-a-vis Mark Hoppus’s blazing-fast bass-playing and Travis Barker’s signature spazz-drumming. The verse melody is pretty hummable (notable, especially compared to other modern pop punk songs), and “Josie’s” mixture of romance and unbounding energy make it feel like a can of Monster bought for Valentine’s Day.

Pop punk is a different landscape than it was during the second Clinton administration, but I still enjoy “Josie” and all of its rough edges—similar to the song’s protagonist, “Josie” takes me away to a better place.

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