Song of the Day: “The Underdog”

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Today we’re going to be looking at another song from Spoon’s upcoming greatest hits album, “Everything Hits at Once”. Our song of the day today, “The Underdog”, has been featured in several movies over the years, including one Marvel installment.

Yesterday, we looked at Spoon’s recent single, “No Bullets Spent”, which was released to promote their greatest hits album, and is including on the album itself.

While we usually don’t cover songs from just one artist over the course of the week, we are fans of trying out new things. We aren’t trying to tell you that Spoon is the greatest indie rock band still putting out new music. But at the same time, we aren’t not saying that.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at “The Underdog”, by Spoon, which was released for their 2007 album, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Spoon released their sixth studio album, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” on Merge Records in 2007, with “The Underdog” as its lead single. The album falls under the genre of indie rock, as well as art rock, and post-punk revival.

The album’s questionable title was originally the alternative title to the song, “The Ghost Of You Lingers”, as a way to call attention to the track’s piano staccato rhythm. Choosing to make the album title a bunch of nonsense fits right in with Spoon’s aesthetic, bringing an avant-garde-esque approach to naming their LP.

“Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” was released to critical acclaim and immediate commercial success. It debuted at No. 10 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and No. 1 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums, selling nearly 50,000 copies in the first week.

The Underdog

“The Underdog” was written by Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, and produced by Jon Brion, who has also produced work for Kanye West, of Montreal, and Rufus Wainwright. On its release as a single, “The Underdog” peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

Due to its success and popularity at the time, “The Underdog” found its way into more than a few movie soundtracks over the years. It was first featured in the 2008 film, “Cloverfield”. In 2009, it reached more ears behind the screen with “I Love You Man”, and “17 Again”. In 2011, “The Underdog” played in the movie “Horrible Bosses”.

Finally, its most recent appearance was in the soundtrack to Marvel’s 2017 film, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. In that one, “The Underdog” plays as we’re introduced to Peter Parker’s everyday school life. While the song is great, the choice is somewhat questionable. It’s just hard to imagine that a white male genius with superpowers could in any way be considered an underdog.

Lyrics

The lyrics to “The Underdog” are addressed to an unknown “you”. In a lot of ways, the lyrics read as a warning. They caution against getting comfortable in a routine, letting your life pass you by, and adopting a fixed mindset.

As always though, let’s work our way through the lyrics, one verse at a time.

“Picture yourself in the living room
Your pipe and slippers set out for you
I know you think that it ain’t too far”

Th song opens by setting up an image for its listeners. An image that evokes old age, complacency, and approaching death.

“But I, I hear the call of a lifetime ring
Felt the need to get up for it
Oh, you cut out the middleman
Get free from the middleman”

Here, the narrator separates himself from the audience, and positions himself to dish out advice. The “call of a lifetime ring” is a recognition that life is short, and we only get so much time. The last two lines refer to getting “free from the middleman”, as a way to take control of your own life.

“You got no time for the messenger
Got no regard for the thing that you don’t understand
You got no fear of the underdog
That’s why you will not survive”

While the chorus changes slightly as it’s repeated, the main message remains intact. In a lot of ways, it’s a call for people to start hustling for what they want. It’s also a warning that if you don’t adopt a growth mindset, someone else who will is going to get up in front of you.

Final Thoughts

“Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” served as my first taste of Spoon years ago, and “The Underdog” is one of my favorite songs from the album. That being said, it’s one of those songs I’ve now heard so many times that I almost get tired of it. Almost.

That finishes up our discussion for today. Tomorrow, we’ll look at another track from Spoon’s upcoming greatest hits compilation, “Everything Hits at Once”.

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