Day 106: John Cougar – American Fool

14 Jun

Hurts So Good

It’s never a good sign when a request for Dad-Rock Tuesday is prefaced with “you will hate this.”  That’s what my father had to say about John Mellencamp’s American Fool, from back when he was still releasing music with that ridiculous fake last name.

American Fool opens with the now-infamous Hurts So Good, a song that I’ve heard a million times, but never really given much thought to.  Honestly, I didn’t even know that it was by Mellencamp.  When I actually listened to it with a critical lens in place, I found that it isn’t too bad for a pop song.  It’s catchy; lyrically, it is trite but true, and delivered in a semi-unconventional way.  That’s about as much as you can ask for out of pop rock.

The rest of the album continued in this fashion for me.  Did I love it? No.  It’s just not what I’m looking for in my music.  Mellencamp’s lyrics mainly deal with love, lust, partying and summer; stuff that’s all been done before, and then a million times since.  It’s all pretty formulaic as well.  Once again, this is about all that you can hope for from an album of this nature.  It’s not terrible, but I would definitely survive without hearing American Fool again.

As for why my dad told me that I would hate this, compared to some of the other stuff that he’s  given me, I’m not entirely sure.  This is like an argument that I’ve had with a friend recently—I don’t dislike music simply because it’s popular.  I dislike popular music, just as I do “obscure” music, if I am not entertained or captivated by what I am hearing.  This record kept me a little more entertained than other records that I’ve written about on previous DRTs, just not enough for it to be considered great.

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One Response to “Day 106: John Cougar – American Fool”

  1. Yuanny Dollar June 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    It looks to me like the other DRT picks might be considered to have more artistic integrity than Johnny Cougar. However, his reputation has grown over the years and a lot of people would point to Jack and Diane as the starting point, where he showed a real songwriting voice. What did you think of that song? In the ebb and flow of 80s-90s music, there was a time when Springsteen was adrift (see Tunnel of Love) marrying fashion models and living in Hollywood and Mellencamp was staying in Indiana hammering out catchy, semi-important songs (see Pink Houses), where critics worried that he would surpass the self-styled “Boss”. Alas, East Coast snobbery prevailed and Springsteen’s reputation remains even though over the last ten years, Mellencamp has put out three good songs for every one by Springsteen.

    So Jack and Diane, what did you think?

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