The year was 1996. Teenagers were a chaste, cultured generation when compared to the over-sexed, under-informed degenerates raised by their iPhones of today. Who am I kidding? Teenagers have always been a fucking mess. And two decades ago they had their very own, albeit acerbic, high-school survival guide thanks to today’s throwback.
“Popular,” the tongue-in-cheek playbook from NYC’s Nada Surf, was one of the the 90’s great alt-rock one-hit wonders with its condescending advice, taken directly from a 1964 handbookand delivered in deadpan spoken word, and strong post-grunge essentials. The lead single off the band’s debut album High/Low, it climbed Billboard’s rock charts domestically and became an international success thanks to its popularity among French teens.
But its strongest component might have been the accompanying visuals; the classic jock / cheerleader trope imagined by a near literal interpretation of the lyrics. The traditional imagery intertwined with ironic subtleties made for a nuanced counter-narrative and one memorable video. Relive and take notes with a stream below: