Pissed Jeans’ Matt Korvette on why he hates Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
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In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: As the frontman of Pissed Jeans, a loud rock band firmly encamped in the world of The Jesus Lizard and Bleach-era Nirvana, Matt Korvette is regularly charged with screaming, thrashing, and being generally, well, pissy. With the group’s new record, Honeys, out this week on Sub Pop, The A.V. Club thought it would be fun to see if we could get him to make a stink about his least favorite song of all time. Fortunately, he obliged, picking a cut so deep we didn’t even know it existed.
The hated: Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” (acoustic version) (2003)
The A.V. Club: Why is the acoustic version of Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” your least favorite song of all time?
Matt Korvette: Wouldn’t it be funny if the regular version was my favorite song of all time? I just really hate how they betrayed it by unplugging?
No, I don’t know, it’s just a terrible song. A song I’ve always hated. I feel like I associate it with bad memories in my life. There are two instances of being in horrible traffic when that song came on. Like, serious gridlock after a night of no sleep and then Jet shows up strumming that horrible riff that’s not even theirs, you know? It’s just such a rip-off song. And they got popular off it. I know they got lots of money, which I feel like I should have gotten instead, probably.
AVC: Because you listened to it?
MK: That sounds fair to me. At the same time, I’m kind of glad Jet was around, because they are kind of fun to hate. Like, if I was hired to hate them, I would totally take that job, whereas like, if I was hired to hate war atrocities, it’d get pretty numbing after a while. There’s just something about them that is very fun to despise.
AVC: What do you think that is? Can you put your finger on it?
MK: They’re just so calculated and a weird little facsimile of what a rock band could be. If there was a made-for-TV movie that was trying to be about The Rolling Stones, but didn’t have the rights to talk about The Rolling Stones, maybe they would come up with the idea of Jet. It just seems incredibly fabricated and crappy, and they really didn’t seem very talented, either.
AVC: And they launched conveniently right as the whole Strokes/ Hives/White Stripes garage-rock thing was happening.
MK: Oh, totally. I would have to hear their song over Carnival cruise ship commercials. It was truly unavoidable for a while there.
AVC: They’re from Australia, which is—
MK: I’ll give them some credit for that. I kind of like Australia. But they are definitely the worst Australia has to offer.
AVC: Why the acoustic version and not just the regular radio version of the song?
MK: I think that you can mask how bad a song is when it’s distorted and the amps are turned up. But they were audacious enough to pretend that this was a song that deserved a closer inspection, and the acoustic guitars are truly heinous. They are probably sitting around thinking they are four Kurt Cobains or whatever. That their songs have this deep meaning you can reveal when you unplug. But really it just showed what a horrible, stupid riff it was and how horrible the guitars sounded, and there’s just really nothing to it then. And they just went through it anyway.
AVC: A lot of bands do acoustic versions of their songs for radio, and they’re always pretty iffy, but Jet thought their version was so good they actually released it.
MK: It’s truly horrible. There was actually a Pissed Jeans performance a couple of years ago where we decided to play unplugged, and we ended it on a cover of that Jet song, unplugged, as sort of an exorcism. It’s kind of a thrilling thing to even touch something so awful.
AVC: How did you even find this version?
MK: I heard it on the radio. I couldn’t believe it. I was just minding my own business, and this thing came into my life and totally ruined my day.
AVC: Doing a song acoustically also suggests that there’s a level of depth to it, like you should really listen to the lyrics.
MK: Yeah, like there’s more to it to show it off bare-bones style, but it really showed how there’s less to it. They’re even trying to play it off as being cool. They’re sitting on stools. It’s truly unacceptable.
AVC: This song was also controversial because people said it was a rip-off of “Lust For Life.” Does that play into your hatred of it?
MK: Oh, totally. It’s a complete rip-off.
AVC: Jet just broke up this year.
MK: I danced when I heard that. I did the worm. At least a quarter mile of the worm.
AVC: Were you singing the riff while you did it?
MK: Oh God, that’s horrible. Now it’s going to be in my head tonight.
AVC: Well, they sold 6.5 million records thanks to that terrible song.
MK: Thankfully, I’m not one of those 6.5 million.
AVC: On Amazon, used copies are going for a penny.
MK: Yeah, still. I would accept 6.5 million pennies.
AVC: I’ll make sure everyone at Sub Pop knows that.
MK: [Laughs.] Yeah, any denomination of money is fine with me.
AVC: As a touring band, at least you never have to worry about playing with or running into Jet now.
MK: I can only hope that they’re all slowly passing away at this point. Or that they’ve fallen on incredibly hard times. Certainly due to writing that song, it’s got to come back around sometime.
AVC: Like the curse of King Tut’s tomb.
MK: Although with a lot more cocaine, maybe.