Wednesday, 5 January 2011
100: The Wonders, "That Thing You Do!" (no.22, 1997)
And I’d argue there’s nothing more apposite to get going with. Tom Hanks’ 1996 debut as director gave the world not just one of the few tour buses, fictional or real, this writer would have liked to have spent time on (something to do with the proximity of Liv Tyler, no doubt) but this title track, written and performed by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger and played to such an extent within the film that your cranium has no option but to submit to its retro catchiness. The levels of pop postmodernism at play here are dizzying, once you start to consider them. A film about one-hit wonders named for one-hit wonders spawns a song that becomes, in both fictional and real worlds, a one-hit wonder – and which, on a lyrical level, appears to be about the very idea of being a one-hit wonder, Schlesinger realising that to make sense within Hanks’s fictional world, the song had to be catchy enough to become an overnight sensation – and yet, at the same time, singularly untoppable. (I’ve got the That Thing You Do! soundtrack on cassette, and it is.) Possibly the most self-aware of all the singles on this list, then: for what separates the yearning one-hit wonder from the smugly established chart act, if not some indefinable thing?