fun.: All The Pretty Girls
[purchase the studio version]
[check out this version on Daytrotter]
A few years ago, probably when my daughter was in high school, she discovered that I had songs in my iTunes library from a band called The Format. To this day, I have no memory of how I got them—probably from some free online sampler, or because I had read a review about the band. I can’t say that I paid the songs all that much attention—they sounded good, so I put them on my iPod. It turned out that my daughter had, independently, discovered the band, and really liked them, so we were able to bond over that.
The Format, however, broke up, and the lead singer, Nate Ruess, who has a voice and theatricality that has reminded more than one person of Freddie Mercury, joined up with a few other musicians, notably Andrew Dost, of Anathallo, and Jack Antonoff, of Steel Train, to form a new band. They wanted to call it Fun, but according to the band, a Scandinavian death metal band already had the name, and suggested that they modify it. So, they decided to use a lower case “f” and add a period, so that they would, someday, be eligible for this SMM theme.
Fun.’s first album, Aim and Ignite was quite good, mixing pop, prog, rock and other influences into a sound that was different from most of the other stuff around. It got pretty good reviews, and had some success, including getting a song on an Expedia commercial. My daughter introduced her older brother (and her father) to fun. My son, away at college, picked up the fun. standard, and embarked on a personal crusade to promote them. Through this effort, mostly on tumblr and Twitter, he not only became part of a family of fun. fans, but began to interact with the members of the band, first through Twitter, and later meeting them at shows.
In early 2012, fun. released Some Nights and shortly after that took over the world. For people like my son, it was a vindication of their devotion to the band, and when the band was still mostly playing shows in smaller venues that were booked before their meteoric rise, they still made time to see my son. In fact, on his birthday in 2012, another member of my son’s fun. “family” was backstage at a show in Canada and videotaped members of fun. calling my son and wishing him a “Happy Birthday”. Not only that, when the album hit #1 on iTunes, the band tweeted their thanks to their fans, and mentioned my son by name. Which is pretty cool.
Personally, I liked Some Nights, but preferred the less produced sound of Aim and Ignite. Today’s song, “All the Pretty Girls,” appeared on that album, but the version above is from a Daytrotter session from 2009, recorded live in the Daytrotter studios in Iowa, and is even more stripped down. (And, if you don’t know what Daytrotter is, you should. Click on the link above and discover an incredible archive of similar live performances by a huge variety of artists, available to listen for free, and to download for a pretty low membership price).
As someone who has been a music fan all of my life, I was amazed at how social media has allowed fans to interact and relate to musicians in ways that I never could have imagined. More recently, it seems that my son’s fun. fanaticism has tempered somewhat. He now has a job that keeps him busy, and he and his girlfriend have a social life. And it appears that the increased demands on the members of fun. that come with their exploding popularity have limited their interaction with fans like my son.
But it always has been that way—you fall hard for a band, you obsess about the band, then you move on, often tucking away your feelings without totally losing them. Popular music is essentially predicated on this, and continues to provide serial opportunities to fall in love. I think that most people—at least people who care about music—maintain a catalogue of music that was, at one point, a favorite, even if they haven’t listened to it for a while. And when that music emerges—on the radio, in a random iPod playlist, at a wedding or on the soundtrack of a TV show—you remember how strongly you felt about it back in the day.
I’m willing to bet that when my son is my age now, and he hears a fun. song, however music is being delivered in 30 years, he will remember back to the end of his college years, and how he felt about the band and their music. Unlike me, when I think about the music l listened to in college, he will also remember his personal interactions with them, on social media, on the phone, and even in person. And that is also pretty cool.