How Fountains of Wayne's Stacy's Mom impacted a generation

3 April 2020, 15:20 | Updated: 3 April 2020, 15:22

Following the tragic news of Adam Schlesinger's death, we delve into Fountains of Wayne's hit single, and what it meant for 00s culture.

Tributes are continuing to pour in for Adam Schlesinger, who sadly died this week, aged 52, after contracting COVID-19.

The singer, songwriter and producer found great success in later life as a music writer for film and television, but he's most known for his part in co-writing noughties pop rock banger Stacy's Mom as a member of Fountains of Wayne.

But why was the seemingly trivial power pop single so well-known and beloved?

As we commemorate Schlesinger, who lost his life far too soon, Radio X takes a look back at his enduring noughties earworm, and discover just how - with a handful of other songs - it came to represent a generation.

READ MORE: See the tributes for Adam Schlesinger, who died after contracting COVID-19

Fountains of Wayne Stacy's Mom single artwork
Fountains of Wayne Stacy's Mom single artwork. Picture: Press

Stacey's Mom was released in September 2003 as the lead single from the band's third album, Welcome Interstate Managers.

The song's lyrics very much evoked the fantasies of a hormone-riddled teenage boy, but its infectious melody somehow gave it a universal appeal.

"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"

Co-written by singer Chris Collingwood and bassist Adam Schlesinger, the track was inspired by a friend of Schlesinger, who had a crush on his grandmother.

Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Picture: Theo Wargo/WireImage

Speaking to MTV News back in 2003, he explained: "One of my best friends, when we were maybe 11 or 12, came to me and announced that he thought my grandmother was hot. And I said, 'Hey, you're stepping over the line,' but at that point in life, I wouldn't put it past anyone" .

And why wouldn't he? It's an age-old tale after all...

It's not the first time the subject has been touched upon in music and popular culture. The band admitted to finding inspiration in Mrs. Robinson - the Simon and Garfunkel song which named after the character of the same name, which was written for the 1967 film, The Graduate.

The impact of Mrs. Robinson, who was played by Anne Bancroft, was such that it went on to define the term as woman who was romantically involved with or seduced a younger man.

While Stacy's mom doesn't seem to reciprocate the narrator's feeling's Schlesinger's lyrics, it's not hard to see why he drew from the idea of Mrs. Robinson when exploring a crush on an an older woman.

But that wasn't the song's only inspiration.

It's well documented that the group wished to emulate The Cars and the new wave scene in general when it came to their sound.

In fact, they very much borrowed riff for Stacy's Mom from the band's 1978 Just What I Needed single.

The video also paid homage to The Cars, making a nod to their frontman with a car license plate, which reads: "I <3 RIC" - referencing the band's frontman Ric Ocasek.

If Stacy's Mom's over-the-top and sometimes delusional lyrics didn't paint enough of a picture, its racy video certainly did.

Supermodel and actress, Rachel Hunter - who was Rod Stewart's estranged wife at the time - played the titular character in the video... and she didn't pull any punches.

The promo features a teenage boy playing the role of voyeur, with Stacy's mom of course being the object of his affection, and his age-appropriate classmate Stacy, who is doing everything she can to steal his attention.

And, if Rachel Hunter getting undressed by a window or being massaged by the pool didn't make you blush, then her pole dancing scene during the song's instrumental the would have certainly done the trick.

It's easy to look back at the Stacy's Mom video and feel uneasy, but in an era where Blink 182 ran down the street naked for their What's My Age Again? video, Stacy's mum was seen as sightly more harmless and tongue-in-cheek.

And hen there was what was happening in film around the time.

American Pie - starring Jason Biggs -was first unleashed in 1999, and it went on to dominate the noughties - spawning three direct sequels; American Pie 2 (2001), American Wedding (2003), and American Reunion (2012)... not to mention various spin-offs in-between.

An image of the cast of 1999 film American Pie
An image of the cast of 1999 film American Pie. Picture: Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

The teen sex comedy followed the trials and tribulations of high-school friends in suburban America, as they make a pact to lose their virginity before graduation.

It was outrageous, raunchy and (perhaps most interestingly) it featured the character of Stifler's mom - who goes on to have a sex with one of one of the group, Finch, much to his friend Stifler's disgust.

It was in this world that Stacy's Mom was born. Teen coming-of-age comedies with frat parties and sexual exploits were constantly pushing the boundaries on-screen, and most of their goings-on would have made the Fountains of Wayne song sound like a nursery rhyme.

But this isn't to underplay Stacy's Mom or its success as a pop song.

It reached No. 11 in the UK singles chart, peaked on the US Billboard charts at. No.21, and it stayed in that position for two weeks, while remaining on the chart for 17 weeks.

It made multiple lists of greatest songs of the noughties and it was even nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Vocal Pop Performance in 2004.

Fountains of Wayne at The 46th Annual Grammy Awards
Fountains of Wayne at The 46th Annual Grammy Awards. Picture: Chris Polk/FilmMagic

Stacy's Mom may not be in the Great American Songbook, but the song is an example of pop music at its best; clever, distinctive and catchy as hell.

It didn't just reflect an entire generation, but it acted as a pre-cursor to the award-winning songwriting from Adam Schlesinger that was to come.

Simply put: Pop perfection.

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