Follow TV Tropes

Following

Music / Fountains of Wayne

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tnw_promo041.jpg
(L-R) Brian Young, Jody Porter, Chris Collingwood, and Adam Schlesinger
Stacy's Mom has got it goin' on!
She's all I want, and I've waited for so long!
Stacy, can't you see? You're just not the girl for me.
I know it might be wrong, but I'm in love with Stacy's Mom.
—"Stacy's Mom"
Advertisement:

Formed in New York in 1995 and named after a now-out-of-business lawn ornament store in Wayne, New Jersey, Fountains of Wayne was a Power Pop band formed by Chris Collingwood (vocals & guitar) and Adam Schlesinger (bass) with Jody Porter (guitar) and Brian Young (drums). Collingwood and Schlesinger originally met as freshman roommates at Williams College in Massachusetts and would record with various bands before splitting up to start two separate bands before coming back together and forming Fountains of Wayne under a deal with Atlantic Records. Their Self-Titled Album dropped in 1996, and their most famous song is the Grammy-winning "Stacy's Mom" off their 2003 album Welcome Interstate Managers.

The band would continue to be active until the early 2010s, whereby the band has more-or-less dissolved after having a frustrating experience recording their final album, 2011's Sky Full of Holes. The group had not ruled out a future reunion, but Adam Schlesinger's death from COVID-19 in April 2020 has put a possible return into jeopardy. The band reunited for a virtual tribute show for Schlesinger a few weeks later, with indie rock singer Sharon Van Etten filling in on bass, which has been their final appearance as a group to date.

Advertisement:

Their music often describes the lives of ordinary people, and alternates humor with a certain wistfulness.


Albums Released:

  • Fountains of Wayne (1996)
  • Utopia Parkway (1999)
  • Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)
  • Out of State Plates (2005, Compilation of previously unreleased songs.)
  • Traffic and Weather (2007)
  • Sky Full of Holes (2011)


Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: The POV character in "Bright Future in Sales". In real life, Collingwood blamed his own problems with Alcohol as the reason why he contributed far less than usual to Traffic and Weather.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: The narrator of "Maureen" is bothered by his friend Maureen telling him Too Much Information about her romantic exploits because he has a secret crush on her, and because she constantly tells him about romantic encounters she has with other guys, he feels like she's taunting him.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bait-and-Switch: "Someone to Love" sets up the expectation that Seth Shapiro and Beth McKenzie are going to meet and fall in love in the final verse. She instead steals his spot in a taxi he was hailing during a heavy rainstorm.
  • Bookends: "New Routine" begins and ends with two middle-aged men sitting in a diner having a Seinfeldian Conversation. While all the other characters have moved around, these two guys stay the same, and their conversation reinforces what all the other characters learned: moving around won't make all your problems go away. The lyrics Lampshade this, as the song ends with "Bring it back" repeated over and over.
  • Car Song: "'92 Subaru", a song about a ridiculously cool used car.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: In a parody of the scene of similar nature from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the music video for "Stacy's Mom" has Stacy catching the narrator stand-in going at it. She didn't mind the "Ocupado" indicator on the door! She's flattered because she thinks he was thinking about her, when in fact he was thinking about her mom.
  • CloudcuckooLander: Dora in "Revolving Dora", who dances by herself and seems to be able to fly.
  • Cock Fight: Deconstructed in "Leave the Biker" as the singer makes it clear that he cares more about hurting the other man than he does about the woman.
  • Cool Car: The subject of "'92 Subaru". The supposed attributes of the car get more and more elaborate with each verse.
  • Determinator: A tragic example. The titular character in "Action Hero" is determined to keep moving through his life as a husband and father of three young children without making any changes to his life, despite the advice from his doctor that he needs a break every now and then.
    The doctor says "It's really just an educated guess
    I suggest you get some rest
    Try to cut back on the stress
    'Cause I don't like what I see"
    But the action hero
    Swears he feels just fine
    He's got to finish saving
    The world for all mankind
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In "Stacy's Mom", when the narrator is mowing the lawn in Stacy's garden, he gets distracted by the sight of Stacy's mom getting a massage and runs over the mailbox.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Someone to Love" - Seth and Beth don't get together and are still as alone and lonely as they were at the start of the song.
    • "Everything's Ruined," which ends their self-titled debut. The title says it all.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • "Mexican Wine", about trying to make the best of things after sad live events happen, and drinking many glasses of the titular drink.
    • "No Better Place" is an extended account of the narrator being repeatedly reminded of his friend/lover who's leaving the city, and drinking heavily in response.
    • In fact, many Fountains of Wayne songs describe binge drinking, including "Bright Future in Sales," "Hung Up on You," "Red Dragon Tattoo," "A Fine Day for a Parade" and "Prom Theme."
  • Girl Next Door Turned Superstar: "Hackensack" is about a guy who keeps seeing a girl he knew in high school in movies and magazines while he's still stuck back home in Joisey, hoping that someday she'll come back for him.
  • Hippie Van: The hippie narrator of "Peace and Love" owns a Volkswagen van.
  • Intercourse with You: "Traffic and Weather", off the album of the same name, is this from a news anchor to his co-host.
  • Jaded Washout: The narrator of "Hackensack", who's still stuck in his hometown pining for his high school crush.
  • Joisey: Adam Schlesinger was raised in Montclair, so the setting or a reference to New Jersey pops up in a number of songs, most notably "Hackensack". According to Chris Collingwood: “Usually, a rule of thumb is if one of our songs has a New Jersey reference, or is about high school, that’s one of Adam’s”.
  • Kids Raiding the Wine Cabinet: "Fire Island" includes "drinking all the alcohol" as one of many forbidden things two kids do while their parents are on vacation.
  • Loan Shark: "Strapped for Cash" is about a guy attempting to avoid paying back various loans. Eventually, a bunch of "bodybuilders" show up and start beating him up, and he finally pays them back... with a credit card.
  • Love Triangle: In "Stacy's Mom", between Stacy and her boyfriend the teen narrator, who prefers her mom. It's ambiguous whether Stacy's Mom reciprocates the narrator's lust.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Mexican Wine" and "Utopia Parkway" start this way.
  • Lyrical Dissonance
    • "Halley's Waitress" is a downtempo, serious-sounding ballad... about a waitress who won't come refill the POV character's coffee.
    • Likewise, "Fire Island" is a relaxed, melancholy song about a group of kids planning a Wild Teen Party.
    • "It Must Be Summer" lives up to its title by being a bright, sunny, immediate power pop number. Meanwhile, the narrator of the song is worried sick that he and his girlfriend are drifting apart.
  • Manchild: The POV character of "Utopia Parkway" (from the album of the same name) explicitly states that his comfortable life means that he "never turned from boy to man."
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: "Revolving Dora" is about falling in love with a very quirky girl who seems to be able to fly.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: "Peace and Love" is about one of these, a guy who drives a VW bus, becomes "one with the universe" with his girlfriend, plans on retiring to Vermont to run a vegan restaurant, and, of course, is always singing about peace and love.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: A proud aversion. While not quite a Lead Bassist, Adam Schlesinger is credited as one of the band's main creative forces, alongside being a very prolific songwriter and producer outside of both this and the many other bands he was also a member of.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Welcome Interstate Managers.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Planet of Weed", about how great being high is.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Several of their songs break away from a power-pop theme for a slight Country/Western vibe, such as "Hung Up On You" from Welcome Interstate Managers and "Fire in the Canyon" off of Traffic and Weather.
  • Salaryman: "Bright Future in Sales" and "Hey Julie", both off of Welcome Interstate Managers, are about the problems faced by low-level office workers.
  • Scatting: This band uses the "La la"s and "hey hey"s extensively, with appearances in almost every song.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their first album was called Fountains Of Wayne.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: In the music video for "Stacy's Mom", the titular Mom is seen climbing out of the pool in a bikini in Slow Motion in homage to the Fast Times at Ridgemont High scene.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Someone to Love" profiles two lonely people and seems to setting up for them to Meet Cute. Instead, the song ends with no resolution for either one, seemingly disproving the chorus' insistence that "One of these days, you might find someone to love."
  • Shout-Out: "Someone to Love" namechecks Coldplay, The Late Show and The King of Queens.
    • The video for "Stacy's Mom" contains several nods to the song's primary musical inspiration, The Cars, including a license plate that reads "I ♥ RIC" (a reference to guitarist and songwriter Ric Ocasek), a character that is dressed in Ocasek's style, and a recreation of the Sexy Surfacing Shot from Fast Times At Ridgemont High (which originally used the Cars' "Moving In Stereo").
    • In "Hackensack", one of the signs that the singer's former crush is now a Girl Next Door Turned Superstar is that he once saw her "talkin' to Christopher Walken" on television.
    • "Laser Show" mentions The Dark Side of the Moon and the then-current lineup of Metallica in the context of the soundtrack to a planetarium laser show.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: The title character of "Maureen".
  • Slice of Life: Invoked often in their songs - in fact, it's one of their trademarks. The band are fond of including mundane aspects of life in their storytelling.
  • Stacy's Mom: "Stacy's Mom" is, of course, the Trope Namer.
  • Take That!: "Someone to Love" implies that watching The King of Queens is a sign of loneliness.
  • Telephone Song: "Hung Up on You" tells the story of a guy who keeps calling his former lover from lots of different places, hoping to get through to her.
  • Title Track: "Traffic and Weather" from the album by the same name.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: The key ramps up dramatically during the guitar solo before the last chorus of "Stacy's Mom".
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: "The Girl I Can't Forget".
  • Wild Teen Party: "Fire Island" is a surprisingly gentle song about kids planning a wild party during their parents' upcoming vacation.
    Driving on the lawn, sleeping on the roof
    Drinking all the alcohol
    All the kids from school will be naked in the pool
    When our parents are out on Fire Island


Top