Monday, November 3, 2008

I can't stop believin'

I can't let go of the phenomenon that is "Don't Stop Believin.'" Growing up this song was a bit of a joke in my mind. This was a pop song written by an 80's hair band that featured the trite saying of "Don't Stop Believing." If he was singing about Civil Rights or Faith in God or something of depth I could have bought in. But all it speaks to is that someday my crappy life will turn around. Seriously? That's why the blues were invented, not 80's hair bands.

Fast forward. On at least three occasions I have witnessed hundreds of teenagers sing-along to this song. They know every word. I have since learned that it is the #1 downloaded song on iTunes. Huh? How did it come to this? How did "Don't stop believin'" become the ultimate sing along? Sure, it has a lethal combination of both catchy verses and chorus, but 25 year-old songs that only reached #9 on the Billboard charts don't get reborn without some help. Here are my theories.

2005 Chicago White Sox: In need of some inspiration during the playoffs catcher A.J. Pierzynski started playing this song in the clubhouse before games. I heard an interview with Pierzyski and Dan Patrick at this time. Pretty much Patrick wanted to know of all the songs in the world to inspire, you pick Journey? See, he thought it was a joke too, but it got some coverage.

The Sopranos Series Finale (2007) When the Sopranos called it quits, they did so controversally by leaving you wondering who was walking through the diner door. The background music was "Don't Stop Believin.'" I was surprised this was the final selection for such a tough guy show. I thought ESPN was joking when they played the final clip on the radio. But again, national exposure.

But nothing I found in my research goes back farther than one instance....

"My Journey" - Scrubs (2003) This is one of my very favorite shows, it is up there with the Simpsons and House. Zach Braff is responsible for the change in alot of people's taste in music over the years, both through his movie soundtracks and from the show. Here is the clip that I can't help but believe started the phenominon.

And, because I like that JD is nerdy like me sometimes:


Klick4MU said...

Maybe it goes deeper, maybe the song has become an anthem for a society who longs for better days ahead instead of looking back. Maybe it's a song about hope and railing against the everyday monotony and the aingst and yearing to get out, of something better and more exciting...or maybe it's just has a catchy beat. I don't know.

Maureen said...


Erin B said...

Also, it was majorly featured in the soundtrack for Charlize Theron's oscar-winning movie "Monster" about serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Because Steve Perry was the music consultant. And now every time I hear the song, I think of cracked out prostitute serial killers. Probably because the SONG IS ABOUT PROSTITUTES. And I also think of hundreds of teenage kids singing in unison. It's unsettling.

Klick4MU said...

Wow, that's a buzz kill. I think that it's just about people trying to find an emotional connection. People trying to escape the "lonely world" and escape from the "streetlight" and into the daylight of connectivity and togetherness. I think the music director of "Monster" had his interpretation but the majority of people associate it like Ricky does, a catchy song with a catchy tune that can inspire hope and gather connectivity among a group of people.

Ricky said...

Wait a sec, I don't think it inspires hope, I think it is a joke! I think it is a case of the music doesn't match the lyrics. Just read the lyrics without the music. It can either be about prostitutes or about people living under the streetlights. Either way it isn't as happy as the music makes it out to be.

Take out the "Don't Stop Believin'" part, what are you left with?

But then again, music is in the ear of the beholder. So party on Robert. I'd pretend to know the words with you at the jukebox anytime.

Klick4MU said...

Alright Ricky, thanks for clearing that up! To Karaoke machines one and all!