Even before memes were a form of mainstream communication, The Presidents Of The United States Of America and their self-titled debut album had all the makings for viral success. That first record was filled with pop-punk earworms filled with absurd lyrics that fans – and listeners who heard the songs on the radio – ate. Between the group’s bizarre style and the later music video for “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Gump“(a parody of PUSA”Piece“), the band was a hit, at least in my elementary school. Any summer day in 1996, you could hear a school bus full of kids on their way to a football game screaming the most chorus. famous album: “Millions of peaches / Peaches for me.” However, not everyone understood it: Weekly entertainment called the album “a turgid amalgamation of Fugazi and Green Day [that] lacks both the muscle and melody of its predecessors. This is not entirely wrong. PUSA bears similarities to these two bands, but their bass-heavy guitar styles lean more towards Primus, while the lyrics are straightforward They Might Be Giants. Nonetheless, it was the playfulness that teenagers of the time probably still remember. If the track had been released today, it would have been all over social media; instead, the song’s nostalgia is.
It took a while, but in late May PUSA went viral when filmmaker Jessica Ellis tweetedA good way to differentiate the older from the younger from the younger is to yell ‘PEACHES COME FROM A CAN’ and see what happens. Ellis tapped into something paramount to “geriatric millennials,” as the age group in their late 30s and early 40s has recently (and sadly) been dubbed. “Peaches come from a can” – and the follow-up lyrics, “they were put there by a man” – went from an obscure bite of ’90s nostalgia to a trending meme within hours.
“Peaches” might not be a perfect song, but it’s memorable. In addition, he has the ideal elements to become a powerful meme and boy, has been “Peaches” even‘re. Dr Shane Tilton, Associate Professor of Writing and Multimedia Studies at Ohio Northern University and author of the forthcoming book The life of memes, attributes the prevalence of pop music in memes to four strengths: formula, performance, meaning, and social experience. “Most [pop songs] are built on a formula, ”says Tilton. “They are limited in time. They tend to have the same types of chords and musical construction. It is something that is easy to take apart. Deconstructing pieces of culture and mixing them with others is crucial for internet mashups. The easier it is for Internet users to break them down, the faster they spread. Not only is “Peaches” a very tightly written song, but its lyrics leave the door wide open to visual media. Is it hard to find a box of peaches on Google?
But a meme has to mean something to an audience – even non-sequiturs have to have contextual sense to get actions. As Tilton says, pop songs have sensory significance, evoking a place and a time for the listener. “I can tell you where I was the first time I heard ‘Closing time ‘by Semisonic. The song has kind of meaning to me. Every time I hear it, I kind of remember where I was. Through memes, fans communicate this quality of transport, allowing subscribers to convey this “summer 96” vibe. “You’re trying to communicate that feeling,” Tilton says. “You’re trying to communicate something that you’ve been through, and the song is the closest way to express that meaning an audience could understand.
Nostalgia is a big theme in memes, but it’s how they communicate that feeling that matters. It closely matches what Ellis says. “I have loved the song since I was a teenager. It came out when I was 13, ”said Ellis The AV Club on Twitter. “I have always associated [it] with that particular era of mid-90s music that was very abstract lyrically and had a harder alternative rock side that made people very uncool like me very cool. His tweet also touches on another of Tilton’s strengths: Pop songs are performative and fit nicely into Twitter prompts like Ellis’ tweet. Tilton says it reminds him of the long haul inhale seagull format, a macro image that shows the feeling of screaming a favorite song. “When you hear the first words, you can shout them,” he said. “Pop songs are built that way. They are designed to be easily accessible to an audience and they are designed to be sung. This screaming bird is not much different from the performance of the song in karaoke.
It’s common for these types of resurgences to happen around pop songs, especially ones that are so tied to place and time. At the end of last year, other mid-90s pop-punks Eve 6 and their famous “heart in a blenderThe song (“Inside Out”) became internet fodder, helping their self-deprecating singer become a Twitter celebrity in the process. Regardless of genre, idiosyncratic lyrics (like “heart in a blender” or “Peaches come from a can / They were put there by a man”) make great memes. Doja Cat had her first big hit with “Mooo!” a song where she dreams of being a cow. After the track was released, image formats similar to the inhaling seagull, such as “Increase the volume, ”Were captioned with“ Bitch, I’m a cow. I am not a cat. I don’t meow. Fans taking their love from absurd lyrics and imbuing them with meaning allow them to laugh at the song and at themselves while asking their audience if they feel the same way.
This brings us back to Tilton’s final memes strength classification: Memes are a social experiment. When people share a tweet like Ellis’s or Justin Timberlake’s “It’s gonna be May“they don’t just share their appreciation for the song, they help solidify and change the meaning of the song. For someone who has never heard” Peaches “and doesn’t share that nostalgia, the lyrics of the song become an expression of joy, transforming the meme and what it communicates. For example, when TikToker Nathan Apodaca’s video, which featured itself skating on a freeway while sipping an Ocean Spray and syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, there was a two-pronged effect. the song has entered the Billboard graphics, worn by old and new listeners. It also changed the meaning many associate with “Dreams”: what was once a song about a breakup is now one about liberation, a carefree vibe that thousands of people were ready to share in their own way.
Lots of songs on Presidents of the United States of America have similar potential. Perhaps the album’s other hit single, “Lump”, would have inspired remixes, if America Online had been a bit more robust when “Weird Al” first released “Gump”. The opener, “Kitty“, which highlights the delicate relationship between man and cat, features a meow chorus that sits right next to” Mooo! “as a silly novelty song that itches the itch of online culture for l nonsense. (To say nothing of the internet’s obsession with the cat’s mysteriously malicious mind, the song is perfectly suited for social media consumption.) But there is something about “Peaches.” C perhaps the Internet’s interest in fruit in general, whether in the form of an emoji or a scene of Call me by your name. Plus, it’s such an evocative song that creating an article doesn’t require a lot of mental flexion.
By taking the alt-rock formulas of the time and loading them with absurdity, the Presidents of the United States of America were able to ensure their immortality, both in the hearts of older millennials and online. “For a meme to be successful, it has to be derivative. There are thousands of pop songs that have been produced, and very few have that second life, ”says Tilton. “The reason is that there is something unique or different that catches the interest of an audience or a content creator. “Peaches” might be a frivolous little pop song, but its magic lies in its bizarre details, a specific feeling she conjures up that only she can provide. “It’s a very strange song,” says Ellis. “You shouldn’t be able to swing so hard on the chorus you’re singing over stone fruit, but you do, and this silliness is so much fun. You don’t sing this song; you shout it. And when you can’t scream, yourself.