My Top 1000 Songs #351: Radiation Vibe

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

There are better Fountains of Wayne songs (we'll get there, I promise). But just like you'll never forget your first kiss, there's an irrefutable emotional connection to the song that first introduced you to a beloved band. Amidst the rawer indie rock that occupied my attention in the mid-90s, be it Pavement or Guided by Voices or Yo La Tengo, there were some power pop gems that scratched my need for chewy hooks. Matthew Sweet's 100% Fun was a big one for me in 1995; and in 1996, it was the Odds' Nest and the Fountains of Wayne's self-titled debut

FoW were particularly fun, adding some whimsical humor and poignant character sketches to their pop hooks. "Radiation Vibe," the debut single I heard on the radio which sent me scampering out to the record store to grab the LP, seemed a little darker than some of the album's cheerier tracks, the ambiguous lyrics hinting at something askew, but that riff was pure gold, and the bubblegum harmony chorus--"Baby, baby, baby, c'mon what's wrong? It's a radiation vibe I'm groovin' on"--had you singing along even if the meaning of "radiation vibe" is up for debate.

Live in 2009:
Live in 2012, stretching out into a medley of 70s classic rock staples (Billy Squire, Foreigner, Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, Paul McCartney):
Nice mellow cover from Hem:
No video, but here's a Bandcamp link for a cover by Kay Hanley, from a tribute to Adam Schlesinger, a tragic early Covid casualty.