A Story in a Pop Song? No Way!

Recently I stumbled across this article in Rolling Stone, in which the author makes a passing comment comparing the band Fountains of Wayne and the NPR radio show This American Life. It blew my mind.
One of my favorite bands of all time is Fountains of Wayne. They are best known for their Mrs. Robinson-esque hit, Stacy's Mom ("Stacy's Mom has got it goin' on"), which (ironically because it was off of their 3rd album) earned them a nomination for Best New Artist at the Grammy's. FOW achieves this high status on my list of great music because they pair storytelling with kick-ass pop melodies. They are one of the forerunners of modern-day power pop. Like the Beatles, they try to take on as many different genres as possible within an album, and are able to transition from rock n' roll to country to lullaby like nobody's business. Their songs about events that outwardly seem inconsequential turn into gorgeous snippets of everyday life. Adam Schlesinger, the bass player and one of the main contributors to the songwriting of the group, has also penned songs for movies like Music and Lyrics and That Thing You Do!. The overlying factor of their brilliance, however, is really that their music places a simple narrative story about everyday life in the context of an upbeat pop song.This American Life, Ira Glass' radio show and new series on Showtime of growing popularity, also does this with varying levels of success. In their best episodes, all of which can be found here, Ira Glass and his team tell great, captivating stories that keep you interested for an entire hour. Music, interviews, and personal storytelling is shown at its best on this radio show. At a time when entertainment is quickly moving towards fast-paced images and movies that place more emphasis on shock than literary value, it is really refreshing to have a show - on the radio - that tells extraordinary stories about people without being too flashy or contrived. The show easily moves from humor to sadness to political commentary, in the same way that Fountains of Wayne is able to transition between these different emotional elements within an album or song.
However, for some reason, before the Rolling Stone reporter made that offhand comparison between Fountains of Wayne's new cohesive album Traffic and Weather and an episode of This American Life, the thought never entered my mind that two of my favorite things to listen to would be related by the affinity of telling a good story.
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