R.I.P. Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger (1967-2020) - Paying Tribute to the Power Pop Legend | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, July 14th, 2020  

R.I.P. Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger (1967-2020)

Paying Tribute to the Power Pop Legend

Apr 03, 2020 By Matthew Berlyant Web Exclusive
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Think back, if you can, to the mid-’90s. MTV was still playing music and alternative music was as popular as it ever would be, although there were signs of its declining commercial fortunes already present. Amid this atmosphere, Fountains of Wayne dropped their self-titled debut album on the world and it produced the minor MTV and alternative/college radio hit “Radiation Vibe.” Although the song is catchy, it, unfortunately, cast them (at least initially, but not for the first time) in the “one-hit wonder” light when the truth is that not only would they continue to have hits afterward, but the album (and some of their subsequent work, particularly 1999’s Utopia Parkway and 2003’s Welcome Interstate Managers) was one of the better power pop recordings of the entire era, coupling extremely catchy tunes with smart-aleck, misfit kid lyrics specific to the NY/NJ area, making the band instantly relatable to those of us who could identify.

Though the follow-up (the aforementioned Utopia Parkway) wasn’t as successful, it did include a song I once saw Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze play solo (“Red Dragon Tattoo”) and another song (“Denise”) that was a minor hit. Dig deeper, however, and you find lyrics describing suburban pathos and boredom at its best, making fun of it all in one fell swoop with songs like “Laser Show,” “Prom Theme,” “The Valley of Malls” and the moving “A Fine Day for a Parade.” Perhaps it took a certain outsider mentality or penchant for weird humor to fully appreciate Fountains of Wayne, but that would pay off greatly a few years later when “Stacy’s Mom” became a huge hit.

Fountains of Wayne was formed in 1995 by Adam Schlesinger alongside Chris Collingwood, Jody Porter, and Brian Young. Along with several other Fountains of Wayne albums and being a member of the band Ivy as well, Schlesinger was also known as a prominent songwriter for film and TV, perhaps most famously composing the theme song for the 1996 Tom Hanks vehicle That Thing You Do for the fictional band The Oneders/Wonders. More recently, his songs peppered the darkly funny hit comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and he also produced the recent, very good comeback albums by The Monkees (including 2016’s Good Times) and wrote material for it as well. He was also working on a Broadway musical with Sarah Silverman that now, unfortunately, won’t ever see the light of day. However, we should all celebrate the legacy he did leave behind both for those already in the known and for future generations as well. R.I.P. Adam Schlesinger, who passed away from complications due to COVID-19 on Wednesday at the age of 52.

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