In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about great songs by non-musicians.
Years later, it’s still amazing to me that millions upon millions of people bought Adam Sandler’s records. Both They’re All Gonna Laugh At You! and What The Hell Happened To Me? are certified double platinum, selling over two million copies each to date, figures that pretty much scream mid-’90s. Sure, The Lonely Island did decently well with its three LPs. Turtleneck & Chain even reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Rap Albums chart, but I can pretty much guarantee that, as successful as those records were and still are, they haven’t sold anywhere near two million copies each.
Sandler was and is still a comedy juggernaut. While he’s lost a lot of his mass-market shine these days, in the mid-’90s, he was a genius, making everyone laugh with movies like Happy Gilmore and getting mass-market radio play for tracks like “Ode To My Car.”
At least, that’s the track I fell in love with as a 15-year-old kid tied to the FM dial in 1996. Though “The Chanukah Song” was What The Hell Happened To Me?’s “single,” like any other kid my age, I knew most tracks off that record, from “Steve Polychronopolous” to “Sex Or Weight Lifting.” Some were funnier than others, and some were clearly more fully formed than others, but “Ode To My Car” spoke bland volumes to my young and dumb life philosophy. I might not have had a car, but I knew that shitty ones existed, and the fact that he said “shit” in the song—repeatedly, even—well, that made it a winner.
Of course, years later, the track hasn’t aged as well, its light reggae beat grating on me as Sandler’s schtick cloys. Still, like much of Sandler’s work, it’s charming in the way it makes me reminisce. Now I realize there wasn’t anything all that great about being 14 or 15 or anything -teen, but it’s nice to remember when I thought there was all the same.