Who is Adam Schlesinger? Find out this week, as I explore some of my favorite tracks by the power pop savant.
I mentioned in the first post of Adam Schlesinger week that I fell in love with Adam Schlesinger multiple times, independently, without realizing it. Never was that more true than for “That Thing You Do!”, my favorite song he’s written.
I grew up watching the movie of the same title, and, as time has passed, I continue to think fondly of the film. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago that I listed That Thing You Do! as my favorite movie. It’s an hour and a half of absolute delight, boasting gobs of charm and personality — most obviously its tremendous soundtrack.
While the film is filled with intriguing facsimilies of early-’60s music styles, no track stands out quite like the title track. It’s an absolute gem of pop-rock. It sounds like one of those unforgettably catchy gems that you’ll hear on the radio and party playlists for the rest of eternity, like “Build Me Up, Buttercup” or “Uptown Funk.”
Schlesinger wrote it around the time that Fountains of Wayne was forming, back when Ivy was just an underground critical darling. I’ve heard that he submitted the composition as part of a contest, but can’t find a reference to that at the moment. I’d certainly love to read an oral history on the song and the Tom Hanks-directed movie.
1996 would prove to be a big year for Schlesinger, as he not only got Golden Globe and Oscar noms for writing “That Thing You Do!,” but Fountains of Wayne released its debut album to modest success.
It’s a good thing this song is so good, because you hear it about 12 times in the movie. But for me, it’s gone further than that: I’ve heard it hundreds of times in the past 15 years, and I don’t expect that to stop.