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Literary Bedlam
Monday, April 17, 2006   |    Shreek of the Week of the Day

Tears for Fears… and Good Charlotte’s Relevance

“Change” by Tears for Fears from the album The Hurting
Second Week of February, 1983

tearsforfearsimage.jpgPress “I’m Feeling Lucky” when Googling “Change + lyrics” and you’ll find yourself staring at the words to “Change” by the band Good Charlotte. Mention how the Smurfs had a higher “sausage to hotdog bun” ratio than the Southern Baptist leadership and you’ll now find few able to back your assertion. Go on and on about that Brady Bunch episode where the kids meet Don Ho and Vincent Price and you’ll find a pack of twentysomethings staring at you as if you were wearing only a colander and screaming at your fingertips.

Sooner or later every generation experiences that moment when references to the popular songs, TV shows, movies and Monchichci jingles of their youth are no longer conversational touchstones. Such is the case with Tears for Fears. As little as ten years ago just saying the band’s name instantly tapped a collective wellspring of images—the “bloopers montage” near the end of the video for “Head Over Heels”; the utter shock when the group pulled out of Live Aid the very day of the concert; the first-year psychology students who wouldn’t shut the fuck up about how the band’s name was derived from primal scream therapy. Ten years ago all of these were greeted with the same quick nod of recognition now saved for Simpsons quotes.

But ten more years of relevance is a lot to ask of a pop memory. And 23 years is an eon in terms of cultural significance. Back in 1983, when the song “Change” was released, a handful of people found a new group that they could call their own. Back in 1985, when the single “Shout” hit #1, the entire world knew of the band’s name. Now it’s 2006 and I find myself having to give lengthy footnotes to yet another recollection, like a grandfather who casually mentions “diphtheria” only to be met with stone-cold silence. Tears for Fears once more belongs to a handful of people, but this time it feels less like a group of hipsters and more like a pack of survivors.

At least I can take comfort in the knowledge that it’ll only be another ten months before everyone forgets who the hell Good Charlotte was.

- By Francesco Marciuliano (