June 7, 2017
Todd plays "Right Now" on the piano.
SR-71 - RIGHT NOW
A one-hit wonder retrospective
Todd: Welcome back to One-Hit Wonderland where we take a look at bands and artists known for only one song. Now, I try to hit a wide amount of genres here, but for the most part that means that I cover a lot of stuff that's ancient history to me.
Todd (VO): I came to popular music relatively late in life, so a lot of the songs on here I didn't get to experience when they came out, even if I was the right age for it. Todd: So for once, I want to cover a genre that actually meant a lot to me. Yes, today we are going to be listening to Late 90's teeny-bop mall punk!
(Clip of "Right Now", with Todd playing air-guitar)
Mitch Allan: She clings to me like cellophane
Todd (VO): Yeah, I was all into this stuff. (Clips of Blink-182- "All the Small Things" and Sum 41 - "Fat Lip") These guys ruled the late 90's and early 2000's as far as I was concerned.
Todd: And then Avril Lavigne and Simple Plan rolled out and I realized I was a huge lame-o and started listening to indie rock. (Back to "Right Now") But for a while, this was my jam. I was all about Blink-182, Sum 41, Eve 6...yeah, they all had numbers at the end of their name for some reason. And of the number bands, we're gonna look at one way down at the bottom of the pyramid.
Mitch: Why, why do you always kick me when I'm high
Todd (VO): Now technically, this was not a hit on the Billboard Top 40, but I remember it being played constantly on the rock stations and on MTV. If you wanna know what the year 2000 looked like, it looked like this. Bright shiny colors, not a care in the goddamn world. This was on the "Dude, Where's My Car?" soundtrack, which, yeah, that about sums it up. It was upbeat. It was an innocent time. And yet the band behind it, SR-71, never really ranked very high in the teen punk pantheon. Not like Sum 41, Good Charlotte, The Ataris, New Found Glory, Yellowcard, or the other six billion bands filling out the Warped Tour roster. Which is sad to me because when I listen to this song now, I'm like "this is killer." It's like the perfect summation of the entire genre.
Todd: I mean, I'm not the only one who remembers this, right? (Image of a Google search reading "Sum 41 - Kick Me When I'm High") No, it wasn't by Sum 41! God.
Mitch: That bitch, it's over
You know I used to be such a nice boy
Before the hit Todd: Eh, this is the boring part, let's get this out of the way.
(Still images of the band, Mitch Allan, and a jet)
Todd (VO): This is the band. This is Mitch Allan, lead singer, lead guitarist, only consistent member. They're named after a military jet that's way more popular than they are.
Todd: They were originally known as Honor Among Thieves, and they're from Baltimore. Oh! Oh, they're from Baltimore! Okay, well no wonder they never had a second hit, because nothing good ever comes out of that stink-ridden city of garbage and puke--
We would like to express our most sincere apologies to the fine city of Baltimore and all its residents, and we deeply regret any distress caused by statements made on this program
Todd: --Cal Ripken never benched himself, because then he'd have nothing to do but look at that flaming toxic waste--
We would like to again offer our deepest apologies. Statements made on this program are not reflective of its producers and sponsors. Uh...go Ravens?
Todd: --wonder Poe was depressed. You'd write miserable goth poetry too if you--
Look, we just work with the guy, we don't like him. We don't even really talk to him, okay?
Todd: Well anyway, let's listen to the band
The Big Hit
(Video for "Right Now," Todd headbangs and raises the horns)
Todd (VO): OK, full disclosure: When I say things like, "Am I seriously the only one who remembers this?" Todd: It turns out that I actually kind of don't remember this. I mean, I thought I did, but every time I tried to sing it or hum the melody, I'd get it confused with "Dammit" by Blink-182.
(Video for "Dammit")
Blink-182: So I guess this is growing up
Well I guess this is growing up
(Back to "Right Now" video)
Todd (VO): I mean, they're pretty similar songs,...
Todd: ...and what's that - what are these chords I hear? (Todd's piano is shown, along with the chords as they are played) The one, the five, the six, and then the four? (Image of the infamous "Pop Song Chords") Yup!
Todd( VO): Of course, you can't be surprised. Most pop-punk songs are written with those chords. It's a very basic genre; we're lucky we even got to a fourth chord in there.
Todd: So what is this song about exactly? Well, basically just a breakup song.
Mitch: She clings to me like cellophane
Todd (VO): About a clingy girl who treats him bad. It's, it's not very serious. It is, as they say, a silly love song. Todd: I mean grant...well an anti-love song but it's still about girls and relationships; it's a love song.
Mitch: So what if the sex was great
Just a temporary escape
Todd: (Imitating Limp Bizkit) "You did it all for the nookie!"
Mitch: Slowly driving me insane
But now that's over
Todd (VO): At the time, it was the poppiest, punk song I'd ever heard. And pop punk of course did exist before this but... Todd: ...it was never this pop.
(Video for "What's My Age Again" by Blink-182)
Todd (VO): Like, even the most teeny-bop of them, Blink-182, went out of their way to play up their snottiness and immaturity. (Back to "Right Now") But there's not even a whiff of rebelliousness here. The production is slick as anything the Backstreet Boys were making. It's pure bubblegum; it may as well be an ad jingle. Todd: Of course now the dregs still remaining...
(Video for "She Looks So Perfect" by 5 Seconds of Summer)
Todd (VO): ...in this genre, have caught up with SR-71's blaze trail. And there's basically nothing punk about pop punk anymore.
Todd: And I think that's a good indicator of why SR-71 didn't, really pick up the following of its peers.
Todd (VO): It's, it's cute, is what it is. It's catchy as hell. It's almost, absurdly well-crafted for a pop song.
Mitch: Why? Why do you always kick me when I'm, high?
Todd (VO): I mean that opening line in the chorus; you can't beat that. But the lyrics themselves don't, really give you a lot to latch on to. Like, even the, the lyrical hook that gives you the title, is super corny.
Mitch: She may not be Ms. Right
She'll do right now
Todd (VO): Yeah that's a joke for middle-aged secretaries. And it doesn't even make sense.
Todd: She'll do right now? I thought, right now...
Todd (VO): ...(sings a bit of the song) it's over. (Song's instrumental climax plays for a bit) I, I think there's the problem, there's just not a whole lot of personality to, to, you know, to, to stick with you. It's almost purely pop; there's no weird edges or anything.
Mitch: She clings to me like cellophane, fake plastic submarine
Slowly driving me insane but now that's over, so...
Todd: Wait, wait, w-what?
Mitch: She clings to me like cellophane, fake plastic submarine
(Todd wonders what this lyric means as an image of a toy submarine appears for a few seconds)
Todd: W-what does that mean? Is, is...
Todd (VO): ...that a slang term I don't know? She's a fake, plastic, submarine? Does... so plastic means she's fake? She's fake and plastic? And she goes, down like a submarine? So she's like a...
Todd: ...slutty, clingy girlfriend? Or... no, what does that mean?!
Mitch: Right now!
Todd: No don't move on; I'm still trying to figure out what that means!
Mitch: She clings to me like cellophane
Fake plastic submarine
Todd: This is gonna haunt (Screenshot of a Google search asking what "fake plastic submarine" means) my dreams. (Another screenshot appears from the Urban Dictionary, showing no results for "fake plastic submarine") What did that mean?
Todd (VO): Actually now that I think about it, I do hear things that made, "Right Now" stick out a little from other pop punk songs. Well, I mean Mitch Allan is a little throatier than other pop singers. There's that, two second Queen homage. And there's a pretty killer guitar solo. Most of the pop punk bands couldn't shred. Or, play, much of anything, really.
Todd: Bu-yeah that's not a lot. Let's try and, build on this "right now" shall we?
The Failed Follow Up
Todd: Okay this is their follow-up, "Politically Correct"... (A really loud alarm blares as warning signs saying "BAD IDEA - THIS IS A - BAD IDEA" pop up on screen) Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God...
Mitch: I don't mean to piss you off with things I might say
But when I try to shut my mouth they come out anyway
Todd: This is gonna be really awkward and uncomfortable isn't it? Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God.
Mitch: And everyone's so sensitive to every bad vibration
Todd (VO): Buddy: if you think things are sensitive in this; the year 2 0 0 0.... Todd: Oh Jeez, you are not gonna like the future.
Mitch: ...nothing I believe in more than my own insignificance
So why does everybody think that my words can make a difference
Todd (VO): OK so i-if I'm following correctly: he said something offensive, someone got offended, and this is his apology, sort of. But... Todd: ...we all need to be honest so that we can have a dialogue and Oh God-Oh God-Oh God-Oh God, I don't want this, I don't want this, please stop.
Mitch: ...you stand politically corrected
Todd (VO): Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the (News footage regarding...) "Accidental Racist", of punk.
Todd: And I'll say the same thing I said about that; if you're actually sorry, say you're sorry. And if you're not, then don't.
Todd (VO): Don't pretend, don't do this half-assed, mealy-mouthed thing where you, kinda half apologise and make excuses. This is actually kind of worse than "Accidental Racist". I mean that song was confused and cringy but at least it was trying.
Todd: But that's obscuring the bigger point: why would you write a song about this?!
Todd (VO): Why would you make it the single?! Don't you have a song about, like, girls or pot or skateboarding you wanna write about?! Who wants a song, that lectures you about how you should react to offensive things?!
Todd: Even if you're like totally right and this other person was, being totally pedantic and overreacting, why would I want this defensive, equally pedantic song in response?!
Mitch: ...lean a little to the left or the right but
You can only see what's on your side.
Todd: I don't know uh, maybe I'm being harsh; I'm just, I'm just so burnt out, by having to hear, every side of this argument over and over on the internet. I mean an-i-i-i-it's not like I don't understand how it can seem like we can't talk about anything anymore but I jus...
Mitch: You couldn't make a Mel Brooks movie today
I saw Blazing Saddles yesterday
(Todd pauses for a moment, before he grabs a bottle of gas, and starts pouring it all over the floor. This is then followed by Todd pulling out his lighter, which he of course lights up.)
Todd: Burn it down. Burn it all, down. Time, for everything to start, burning.
Did They Ever Do Anything Else?
Todd: See, SR-71 was actually kind of smart. (Images of Wheatus, American Hi-Fi and Lit) The days of snotty, carefree pop punk were, almost done and, things were about to get a lot more serious and angsty. So, I can see why what they did, kind of made sense.
(Video for "Tomorrow")
Mitch: I'm not afraid of tomorrow
I'm only scared of myself
Todd (VO): "Every word you speak to me takes me... Todd: ...one motion nearer to the verge, and onto the point of rupturing!"
Mitch: Is it any wonder why I'm scared?
If I was a little young....
Todd (VO): After Crazy Town, this is the second band I've covered who tried to turn themselves into Linkin Park clones. Which, stands to reason; Linkin Park demonstrated there was a lot of money to be made in this market.
Todd: But these things; they have to happen more naturally. If you remembered SR-71, it was as a goofy punk band who made silly love songs. And maybe that, one time they lectured you about how they should be allowed to say the N-word. (Caption pops up saying: "ATTENTION: You are NOT Mel Brooks. So you'd better be sure you are exactly as smart and funny Mel Brooks before you try to be him I shouldn't even have to say this Jesus Christ.") No one wanted...
Todd: ...this from them.
(Image showing a Japanese edition of the band's third album, "Here We Go Again" appears. Caption pops up saying: ONLY AVAILABLE IN JAPAN!)
Todd (VO): They only ever released one more album. Where they turned back to pop punk.
(Footage from a live performance by SR-71 with "Here We Go Again" dubbed over)
Mitch: Just want a normal girlfriend
But here we go again
Todd (VO): (Close up of the album's title) Even the title's like: "Yep. Just, doing the same song again". Todd: There's also a song in that album about being a one-hit wonder.
(Live performance footage plays again but this time it's dubbed over with the song "15 Minute Idol")
Mitch: ...know. I'm more than just a one hit wonder
15 minute Idol
Todd: That's music to my ears obviously.
Todd (VO): And what most people remember nowadays about that album, is that it has the original version...
Todd: ...of "1985".
(SR-71's version of "1985" plays over the live performance tape)
Todd (VO): Yeah you know this song. The version you know is by Bowling For Soup.
(Video for "1985" by Bowling for Soup)
Jaret Reddick: ...Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie...
Todd (VO): Having listened to both versions now there are a lot of differences between the two songs. Some of them are better.
Mitch: She's seen all the classics at least a hundred times...
(Bowling for Soup's version)
Jaret: ...Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, even St. Elmo's Fire...
(Back to SR-71's version)
Mitch: ...Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Todd (VO): See, see what a better rhyme that is? Todd: On the other hand some of them were worse.
Mitch: Ask herself, what happened
The rubber broke!
Todd: (Sarcastically laughs like a dumb doofus) Huh, Huh.
Todd (VO): All-in-all, it's hard to say which version I prefer but, the original is a little more about the actual, main character and, less of a, (Image of a...) BuzzFeed list of "only, 80s kids will remember". (Video for "1985" by Bowling For Soup plays again) But I think this cover version showed Mitch Allan the way forward because, he's yet, another one-hit wonder, who became a major power player behind the scenes. He became an in-demand songwriter.
Todd: And I assumed it would be for the new generation of pop punk bands like, Boys like Girls or, All-time Low or 5 Seconds of Summer, but uh... nope.
(The original intro for "Hannah Montana" plays briefly, followed by the music video for "He Could Be the One" by Hannah Monata (AKA Miley Cyrus).
Todd (VO): In what may be the least punk thing since (Album cover for...) "Chipmunk Punk", Mitch Allan has spent the last 10 years writing and producing bubblegum pop for Disney stars.
Todd: Well, I mean among other things.
(Video for "Heartbeat Song" by Kelly Clarkson)
Todd (VO): He's done a butt tone of work with a lot of people. But a lot of it, has been for Disney actresses.
(Video for "Heart Attack" by Demi Lovato)
Demi Lovato: I'd think I'd have a heart attack
(Screen-shot of Mitch Allan's Twitter bio appears)
Todd (VO): His Twitter bio, even says this. ("You know that song on the radio you hate... I probably wrote it". Todd begins to ponder this.) Hmmm?
(Video for "Want to Want Me" by Jason Derulo plays)
Jason Derulo: Girl, you the one, I want to want me
Todd: Yep, yes you are correct sir; that is an accurate description.
Did They Deserve Better?
Todd: Look, Mitch Allan is obviously a very talented composer. But I'd have a hard time making the case that the world needed more SR-71.
Todd (VO): They weren't doing anything new, they didn't have a whole lot of range, they seemed to be following trends their entire career; they were the very definition of a redundant band.
Todd: But, "Right Now", is still a killer pop song and unjustly forgotten. The polish on that thing, the song craft, is insane.
Todd (VO): It is absolutely no surprise to me, at all that he continues behind the scenes as a songwriter. Although he's still never written anything as catchy as, "1985" or, "Right Now".
Todd: Matter of fact, his one big hit song, was about a mediocre romance that was never gonna go anywhere but, was good enough for the time being. Really doesn't that just sum up SR-71?
Closing tag song: "Right Now (Acoustic Version)" by SR-71
"Right Now" is owned by RCA.
This video is owned by me.
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!