The year is 1996 and alternative rock music is at the forefront of the charts. A band from New York has released their debut album High/Low, and the first single and video is starting to really make a name for this group. The band I’m talking about is Nada Surf and the song is called “Popular.” I’m sure you remember this song. I know I do. The song and album was produced by Ric Ocasek (of The Cars) who had most recently produced Weezer’s “Blue” album. The song is interesting because of it’s structure and lyrics. The whole song, except for the chorus, are parts made up from the 1964 teen advice book Penny’s Guide to Teen-Age Charm and Popularity, written by television actress Gloria Winters. The excerpts are spoken in a sarcastic tone by the band’s vocalist Matthew Caws. “Popular” became a mainstay on MTV because of it’s video. The video was directed by Jesse Peretz (Foo Fighters, The Breeders, The Lemonheads, etc) and featured the band members in roles as a teacher, security guard and football coach. The plot of the video consisted of an attractive female cheerleader, taking the teacher’s lesson on popularity literally; by two-timing two different football players behind each of their respective backs, under the notion that she deserves “every boy in the whole world” by following that teacher’s “Teenage guide to popularity.” Only in the video’s ironic conclusion, is it revealed that the two players are actually friends and have both been with the attractive cheerleader.
So enjoy this classic 90’s jam!
Nada Surf- Popular: