Before so many indie bands professed their love for 1980s New Wave with synth jams and power chords, New York City's Fountains of Wayne flaunted their Cars crush in 2003's "Stacy's Mom." The song's intro is so Cars-esque that Cars frontman Ric Ocasek thought it had been sampled from his 1978 hit "Just What I Needed." Indeed, the first few notes are nearly indistinguishable.
The song reached most devotees' headphones after its video captured the heart of then-MTV president Judy McGrath. Soon, the depiction of a 12-year-old boy's juicy crush on his friend's mother - played by supermodel Rachel Hunter - was making a splash in more ways than one. Fans of 1980s cinema revel in the clip's references to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, whose poolside scene has a similar climax.
The song thrives on musical peaks. Verses begin as musings so understated that they seem like private thoughts. But by the time the chorus rolls around, the band's rocking harder than the tough guys who shun their slick power-pop. Like many of Nirvana's most famous songs, it explores the power between quiet restraint and sweaty, unbridled confession. It's an anthem rolled in a sonic tube sock.
Fast forward to 2012. Both Stacy and the song's narrator are all grown up, and Fountains of Wayne's legacy has shaped bands like Rogue Wave, OK Go and Madison's own MTV sweethearts, Locksley. Meanwhile, reality-TV moms and their parodies - hello, Suburgatory - are more eager than ever to be a schoolboy fantasy, sporting fashions that seem ripped from Hunter's body and tailored for an overgrown Bratz doll.
As for Fountains of Wayne, they've taken a darker, sparer approach to power-pop on their latest release, Sky Full of Holes. Instead of returning to Stacy's pool for inspiration, this collection pays homage to Minnesota alt-country stalwarts the Jayhawks. In other words, watch for MILFs wearing cowboy hats this summer.