Arts and Culture

The Perfect Pop Song

From 'Jessie's Girl' to 'Melody for Lovers,' we're still swooning.

By Adrian Mack 17 May 2012 |

Adrian Mack contributes a regular music column to The Tyee and frequently sits behind Rich Hope, sometimes in Spain!

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Atlanta's Biters have also perfected their haircuts.

Let us congratulate Rick Springfield for a magnificent head of hair, even at 62. That's right -- Rick Springfield is 62, meaning he was already in his early 30s when "Jessie’s Girl" bored its way into your skull like a diamond-tipped drill mounted on that Fender Strat he’s playing in the video.

Let us further congratulate Rick Springfield for finally putting the memory of his 1984 feature Hard to Hold behind him, not to mention his General Hospital years (oh, wait, scratch that). Still, further kudos to the hunk that stunk for shedding his more recent status as a dark and terrifying punchline in Boogie Nights.

Why all this Springfield-alia? I noticed while I was sitting in YVR two weeks ago, staring at the ubiquitous TV screens and growing stupider by the minute, that he's the subject of a new documentary called An Affair of the Heart. And it looks good! Rick Springfield apparently has some very dedicated fans, of the monomaniacal, suburban, middle-American, Jimmy Buffett variety -- a fact that gives me comfort for reasons probably best left on my therapist's couch.

Plus, waiting to board a plane to Amsterdam, I discovered that I actually love "Jessie's Girl." With a safe distance between now and 1981, it's okay to finally admit that Rick Springfield overcame every handicap imaginable to write one impossibly and undeniably great guitar-pop song. Which is all any of us ever needs to do.

Sadly forgotten from that same year was another minor hit from a guy called Phil Seymour. "Precious to Me" is every bit as perfect as "Jessie's Girl," with the bonus that Seymour -- perhaps better known as Dwight Twilley's right hand man in the '70s -- was clearly a much hipper guy than Rick Springfield. You can tell from the cute little stripey T-shirt.

These days, everybody's hip. But not everybody is good, which is why it's such a thrill when you stumble on something like Biters, an Atlantan four-piece who blew my mind as I drove around Spain with a couple friends for the past two weeks. Their song "Melody for Lovers" was on my radar when the band released a double EP called It's All Chewed Up OK? late last year (actually two previously released U.S. EPs welded together into one killer album), but I hadn't gotten any further than that.

Turns out that while Biters, crucially, sound most like themselves, there isn't a track on the album that's any less classically tooled, unarguably brilliant, or as indebted to the manic pop flavour of your Phil Seymours and -- yes -- even your Rick Springfields as the one you’re about to listen to. Assuming you like this sort of thing, of course. And if you do, you know that some affairs of the heart last an entire lifetime.  [Tyee]

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