Listen to “Seventeen Going Under” twice and you’ll listen to it ad infinitum. In fact, it sounds like forty years ago, the Alarm mostly, but the truth is the human condition never changes, being a teenager is the same, and although we’re happier as we get older we’re all still seventeen at heart, ask all the boomers getting plastic surgery trying to look young.
It’s not like it’s a hit. “Seventeen Going Under” has got 724,926 streams on Spotify and only 341,529 YouTube views in the week it’s been out. Then again, everything happens slowly these days, you can be unknown, bubbling under for over a year and then WHEW!, suddenly your track catches fire. Not that I expect U.S. radio to play “Seventeen Going Under,” there’s nowhere for it. It certainly isn’t hip-hop or pop, it’s rock, and even Miley Cyrus could not get traction with the retro sound. And I’ll give Olivia Rodrigo’s lyrics kudos, but musically most of her album is uninteresting, then again on one level “Seventeen Going Under” is a rap track as in there are essentially no changes! You’re waiting for the chorus, the break, and it never comes, but boy is there ENERGY!
That’s the essence of the metal/Active Rock sound, THE ANGER! But as that audience and its music have become less accepted it’s driven headlong into the oblivion of noise, if you’re not a fan there’s no way you’ll cotton to the sound, you’ll want to take it right off, but not “Seventeen Going Under.”
Then again, there are people who now hate rock in principle.
Then again, Sam Fender is not a teenager, at least not anymore, he’s 27, old enough to have some perspective, and you can hear it.
So, I’m angry. I’m much happier than I was at 17, then again, I still feel like I don’t fit in, am not part of the mainstream, and somewhere deep inside I want to be, or really I want the rest of the population to change and be more like me, but that’ll never happen.
“So I spent my teens enraged
Spiraling in silence”
Imagine being a teenager today, the parents can’t stay out of your business. Telling you what you can learn, telling if you have sex there will be no abortions, abhorring everything you do, TikTok, influencing, telling you to get off of the damn phone when the truth is that’s where your community is, your friends, the like-minded people.
“And I armed myself with a grin
‘Cause I was always the f—–g joker
Amongst the white noise and boys’ boys”
People cover up their true feelings, even though in truth we all want to be understood and this is the key to human connection, and relationships and sex, but people, especially guys, feel if they’re honest and open they’ll be ostracized.
“Locker room talkin’ lads’ lads
Drenched in cheap drink and snide fags
A mirrored picture of my old man”
The music business is a boys club. The Fortune 500 is a boys club. Sure, inroads have been made, but I’m talking less about numbers here than attitude, the in-jokes, the laughing, the sexual innuendoes, if you don’t participate you’ve got no future in the corporation, you’re immediately off the track, far from the mainstream. They say America is about individualism but if you’re an individual be prepared for heat, assuming anybody cares at all. And god forbid you’re a nerd, you’re bullied online and the truth is online bullying far exceeds real life bullying, it can be hard for anybody to take, did you see Valerie Bertinelli broke down in the face of it?
“Valerie Bertinelli tearfully hit back at an Instagram troll who said she needs to lose weight: ‘Not f—–g helpful'”: https://bit.ly/3wJLWyb
But really it’s not about “Seventeen Going Under”‘s lyrics, it’s about its SOUND! It’s loud but not offensive, you’re drawn to it, you want to immerse yourself in it, you want it to consume your moving body as you forget about the injustices of this world, knowing, thank god, that someone feels the way you do.
And there are no brand names in the song. No featured artists. “Seventeen Going Under” doesn’t sound mannered, overworked, overdone.
But that sound, that ENERGY!
You’ll catch it the first time through, when the song fills out, when the vocal becomes even more intense, but if you listen to it again you’ll feel a bubble forming around your body, you’ll start to get that feeling of happiness, when you relax and smile and don’t worry about what anybody else thinks.
Maybe this will get some traction in the U.K., where they embrace more genres of music. But, once again, the start is so slow.
But for those who are too young to have lived through it, THIS IS THE SOUND!
P.S. Play this on the big rig, the speakers with some bass, you want to feel the room SHAKE!