Friday, December 05, 2003

When Bad Movies Happen to Good Music

Last night, while folding laundry and channel-surfing, I came across the Josh Hartnett vehicle 40 Days and 40 Nights. Harnett, who floats in and out of It-Boy status, plays a guy who -- get this -- gives up sex for Lent. No, it's not your average UPN sitcom -- it's a Major Motion Picture! Anyway, I wasn't the only one who stayed away from the box office. Both reviewers and the general public were underwhelmed, and the film faded to its appropriate resting place -- late weeknight showings on cable.

What kept me on that channel for more than the second or two I give most stuff before firing on to the next channel was a familiar melody. Yep, there it was -- "Chemistry," from the rock-solid Minneapolis trio Semisonic's sadly underheard All About Chemistry. What should have been blasting out of every car radio in the land for a full summer was instead relegated to 10 seconds in a crappy movie that not many people saw.

Okay, I've been around the block enough to know that what the masses like ain't always what's good, and vice versa. But "Chemistry" is such a delightful, pure slice of American pop music -- and from a wonderful, sweet album (check out "One True Love," an amazing tune with Carole King, if you don't believe me) -- that I could do little but shake my head mournfully (and then continue folding my daughter's kitty-cat pajamas). If the La's hadn't had at least a modest hit with "There She Goes," arguably the most perfect piece of pop recorded in the last 20 years, I'd feel the same way about that great song, which has turned up in enough trailers that people at least kind-of recognize it.

And on and on it goes. Look, I'm no aging hipster doofus who insists that anything made today isn't worth listening to, or watching, or buying, or whatever. (Well, maybe a little, but just a little.) There's a ton of great stuff out there, but you have to look for it, and give it a chance when you find it. And the more plastic and hurried our culture becomes, the more difficult that is.


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