Most people have figured this out by now, but I really like Stacy's Mom by Fountains of Wayne. Too much. It's a weird song.
I play this song as my hype music before mock trial rounds. When I was running long routes in the mountains last summer I used it to pump up in the car beforehand. Sometimes I can even make other people listen to it. There's a video floating around the mock team of like 9 people on TMT dancing and singing along at our holiday party this year. Everyone else was cowering in a corner.
I had never heard this song until last summer. One of my coworkers, a short, anger-prone man named Matt Cook (guess what his job was) got frustrated one evening and retreated to the back of his kitchen to calm down and play some music over his portable speaker. Somehow, his "relax" playlist contained Stacy's Mom. It was ridiculous. So was Matt Cook. But I digress.
If there's one thing I am drawn to above all else, it is the desire to be countercultural and vaguely hipster. I began listening to the song because I thought it was funny that this middle aged man needed to calm down by listening to an absurd song about a teenager with the hots for his girlfriend's mom.
I played it in the car with my friends in New Hampshire because we were all trying to be quirky and charmingly strange. It represented the culture of the outdoors scene, which prioritizes being goofy and making adventures look easy. Eventually I actually started to like the song itself.
But the point I'm making here is that I wonder if a lot of our preferred music comes from the image we want to cultivate, just as much as what actually sounds good to us. A lot of the music I play or talk to people about is music I think will make me look good. Music taste is aspirational.
I had all but forgotten about Stacy's Mom at Tufts, when I learned that one of the seniors on mock trial liked it too—his name is Alexander Thompson. I'm going to add a picture here, because I need to get across how much of an oddity this man is:
Alexander only plays Stacy's Mom in a very particular situation: when he and his housemates go to Stop and Shop to get groceries. Every time. Then he buys sausages (which he calls, in a Boston accent, "the dawgs").
That was hilarious to me! So I brought a portable speaker to our next tournament in early November and blasted it before the round started. I figured if any song was going to confuse our opponents and get in their heads, it was this one.
Think about it. We're not playing any sort of obnoxious rap music, which feels sweaty and reeks of incompetence. We're not playing cutesy pop, which feels too inviting and friendly. We're not playing something classy, like Silksonic, which makes us seem like composed, professional competitors.
We are playing fucking Stacy's Mom. You can't get a read on the people who play Stacy's Mom. Those people are insane, crazy, unpredictable. What lunatic chooses to play that to pump up for a round? A wildcard. And perhaps, the combination of our reputation and our music introduces just the slightest bit of fear to throw you off your game.
Stacy's Mom has been and continues to be about branding for me. It's a fun song, and I don't discount that it's fun to sing along with or dance to in a group. But part of that fun—part of that hype—comes from the awareness that it makes me absolutely ridiculous.