Friday, September 18, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #56: Don't Stop Believin' by Petra Haden

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #56: Don't Stop Believin' by Petra Haden (2007)

Here’s something amazing to consider. For the first half of this decade, nobody gave a shit about this song. It was buried in early 80's nostalgia, perhaps comfortably nestled between "Heart and Soul" and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)". "Don't Stop Believin'" was a piano bar novelty; if you heard it there, you were thrilled in an “I just remembered how much I love this song” type way. But aside from those annual Mardi Gras trips to The Big Bang, Journey remained comfortably on the fringe of nostalgic kitsch. Yet since 2005, the song has become unavoidable. It seems to be a baffling phenomenon. Yet it worked its way into three relatively major pop culture moments over a 20-month span. Observe:

  • It became was chosen as the official song of the 2005 White Sox playoff run, culminating in a world series title. Suddenly it was on network television for the better part of a month.
  • It was prominently featured on an episode of Laguna Beach as simply being the CD playing in someone’s car, prompting the teen demographic to amazingly launch the song into iTunes top 10 for the week.
  • The final scene of the final episode of The Sopranos. This was a show that chose soundtrack painstakingly for its entire run, usually favoring the old or obscure. And yet the lasting image comes from Tony Soprano playing Journey on a table-top jukebox.
Of course attendees of the 2005 Rafferty/Fletcher wedding at the Indianapolis Omni know that happened way before any of the three above occurrences. Have you ever been to a wedding where the bride literally walks down the aisle as this song plays? If you haven't, I can feel your jealousy burning through the screen, and I don't blame you. When I first heard the piano, I could barely contain my excitement.

So at this point, we're pretty well covered on the uses of "Don't Stop Believin'" within the media (I'm looking at you, cast of Glee.) But Petra Haden gets a pass for composing her rendition completely with a capella overdubs. I'd love to actually see her vocalizing the post-opening verse guitar shredding. Plus, who ever thought of tossing in a Wilson Phillips homage in the outro? Add in a video that's just cute enough to make you barf, and your initial weariness is worn down by the fact that the song still holds up.

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