Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Music from Oz: Popular Song

This little series will point out the influence of Oz on pop culture specifically by pointing out songs based on Oz in some way. Any suggestions are welcome!
 Earlier this year, I was listening to Mika's album The Origin of Love when a song came on with a familiar beat to it.

At the time, I couldn't quite place it, but when it got to the chorus, I realized that the song was based on the "Popular" number from Wicked. Here's the album version below. (Although this is my preferred version of the song, it does contain a little coarse language.)

The song is dedicated to school bullies of the past, and sung by their past victims, who actually went ahead and did something with their lives, specifically, "putting down my story in a popular song." The bully now works low-level jobs, such as selling popcorn at the movie theater or being a janitor. The chorus suggests that popularity comes from being true to yourself rather than giving in to peer pressure or by the things you own.

The song also got a single version, which reworked the tempo, dropped the bridge, sanitized the language, and had Ariana Grande instead of Priscilla Renea singing the song with Mika. This version got a music video.

The music video seems like it owes a bit to the imagination of Tim Burton or the Addams Family. But perhaps it has a few (likely unintentional) nods to Oz as well? Like Mombi in The Marvelous Land of Oz, Mika and Ariana brew a potion that turns their bullies into stone. And if they're serving the roles of wicked magicians, as suggested by several Oz tales, Ariana turns on Mika at the end.

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