In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about the songs we like most when the weather gets warm.
Shinobu, “Not Gonna Happen” (2003)
Though the band’s existed for over a decade, the critical re-evaluation of Shinobu has only recently gotten underway. Springing to life in 2002, the San Jose band didn’t arrive fully formed, but one of its best songs came quick: the warm and sunny “Not Gonna Happen.”
Like many bands getting their start in the early 2000s, Shinobu gave “Not Gonna Happen” to a compilation full of other young, like-minded acts. Labels employed this tactic to get the most music in front of as many fans as they could, all for as little money as possible. Successful compilation appearances could bolster a band’s profile, but they could just as easily leave a fantastic track to linger in obscurity. That’s what happened with “Not Gonna Happen.” Even though Shinobu attempted to revive the track by re-recording it for its 2006 album Worstward, Ho!, the new version lacked the original’s punch. It wasn’t until the aptly titled collection album Exhaustive, Exhaustive was released in 2010 that fans were readily given the warm weather anthem they’d previously had to search high and low for.
What makes “Not Gonna Happen” so essential to summer days is that it’s a perfect pop song that’s introduced by a cacophonous racket. This mirrors the way—at least in Chicago—that winter tends to have a dramatic final push right as we’re on the cusp of warmer temperatures. Similarly, when Shinobu confronts the listener with this calamity of cymbal crashes and down-stroked power chords, it makes the bouncy pop-rock song that follows feel all the more earned.
This is mirrored in the lyrics of vocalist-guitarist Mike Huguenor, who runs down a list of his own character flaws (sleeping late, endless bullshitting, etc.) while holding himself accountable to make a change. But it’s the simplistic line that anchors the chorus, his prolonged declaration that, “One day I’ll wake up,” that makes “Not Gonna Happen” a song about letting the past wash away in order to live in the moment. With every word and every sharp chord strike, “Not Gonna Happen” encourages listeners to ditch their apathetic outlooks—just like they did those cumbersome winter coats—and enjoy life’s simple pleasures; all of which are attainable just by waking up.