Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Schoolhouse Rock

Yesterday I spent hours interviewing, training and testing for a teaching program. Clearly I needed music for the occasion.

In hard rock, teachers are always depicted as the bad guys, which is particularly flattering. We must be doing something right if guys like Alice Cooper are inspired to rage against us. Besides, who really wants to hear a song about how great it is to go to school?

The All-Time Top Five Songs About School:

Alice Cooper, "School's Out"

The former Vincent Furnier once observed that the happiest minutes of a kid's life are on Christmas morning and the last day of school. Thankfully, he chose to immortalize the latter with his best-ever lyrics ("We've got no class, and we've got no prinicpals...") That malevolent chorus, the universal subject and the unforgettable hook made this not only Alice's signature song, but GWAR's as well--their cover is by far the best thing they've ever recorded. Still my favorite performance might be this one from The Muppet Show. It always reminds me of Max in Where the Wild Things Are.

Nirvana, "School"

There's no greater example of Nirvana's ability to say a lot with a little than this song from Bleach. Over two chords and fifteen words, Kurt Cobain expressed the angst of nearly every high schooler on an album that was recorded for $606.17. A couple of years later, he was headlining at Reading.

Pearl Jam, "Jeremy"

School shootings are much more vivid in America's consciousness than they were when Pearl Jam dropped "Jeremy" on us, but nothing will ever stop this song from giving me chills. Eddie Vedder voiced the song's antagonist ("Clearly I remember picking on the boy") and came up with the scariest depiction of ostracized kids in modern music. Pearl Jam rarely make music videos, and reportedly fought the final cut of this one for being too sanitized. I don't know if I want to see what they really had in mind.

Ramones, "Rock n' Roll High School"

In the best two minutes of Roger Corman's Rock 'n' Roll High School, the Ramones breeze through an ode to ditching school in favor of more enjoyable pastimes. It looks downright innocent now--the Ramones sound as sunny as the Beach Boys, and all-American sweetheart P.J. Soles climaxes the scene by blowing up the school. That moment alone will probably keep this movie safe from remakes.

Van Halen, "Hot for Teacher"

Nothing has ever made school as much fun as this song and video. That awesome drum intro? The catchiest riff in entire the Eddie Van Halen oeuvre? Synchronized dancing in pink suits? The instantly singable chorus? Yes sir!

By the way, as long as we keep hearing about the bee girl and the Nevermind baby, can anybody tell us what really happened to Waldo?

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