Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster on the precious blandness of “Ho Hey”

Paternoster, center, with the rest of Screaming Females
Paternoster, center, with the rest of Screaming Females

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 frontwoman of Screaming Females, one of New Jersey’s finest bands, Marissa Paternoster brings scorching punk and searing riffs to the masses. Named one of the greatest guitarists of all time by Spin, Paternoster embodies the spirit of rock for rock’s sake. Screaming Females’ latest record, Rose Mountain, is out now.

The hated: The Lumineers, “Ho Hey” (2012)

The A.V. Club: Why do you hate “Ho Hey”?

Marissa Paternoster: I know it sucks, but my main complaint about it is that it’s so bland that it’s really difficult to discern it from all of the other really bland songs that are on the radio. It was just constantly on the radio and I was like, “Who is this? Who is this? Who is this? I know I’ve heard it a million times, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

It’s like a brown rice cracker. It’s like completely tasteless, flavorless, and not providing me with—well, actually, a brown rice cracker would provide you with more nutrition. So it’s like a saltine but with no salt. It totally sucks.

Do you know this song?

AVC: Of course. It’s one of those songs that’s on every radio station at once.

MP: Yeah. Usually soft rock. If we’re talking New York, 95.5 probably played this. This is good for the office. I understand.

AVC: And it’s good for commercials…

MP: It’s a piece of shit. My friend Dawn Riddle in Philadelphia, when this was big on the radio, she was talking to some other people about maybe cashing in on the trend and started a faux band in a similar style called The Mason Jars.


We would just go for this urban rustic appeal. I think I recently joined the band, but I’m not sure. It would be an urban rustic thing where someone would have a handlebar mustache and there would just be a lot of going, like, “Hey!” and hitting some kind of artisanal hand drum. Maybe I would play a washboard or something.

AVC: Or an acoustic guitar, but you’d have to play it really hard and excitedly.


MP: No, I think it would be acoustic guitar, but it would just be really important that it was really small. And I would carry it around with me everywhere. I can already see the video in my mind, where it’s The Mason Jars walking down a French alleyway with cobblestone streets, and we’re just having a really joyous time singing a really dry, disingenuous, lifeless song about love.

AVC: I imagine you wearing rolled-up jeans with suspenders or something.

MP: Oh, for sure. That’s what I’m saying. Urban Rustic. It’s really in right now.


So yeah, I mean, my major complaint with “Ho Hey” is that it’s so bad. I actually had a few picks, though. I sent [my publicist Sarah] a few things, like I was going to do “Butterfly” by Crazy Town, or—what was my other one?

AVC: There was a Hawthorne Heights song.

MP: Oh, yeah. “Ohio Is For Lovers.” That one’s an emo relic. Or “The Reason” by Hoobastank. But like these songs, if they came on the radio, it’d be like, “Oh, yeah, it’s “Butterfly” by Crazy Town.” But still, when I hear this Lumineers song I’m like, “What the fuck is this? Who is this? I’ve heard this so many times! Can someone please remind me the name of this totally anonymous band who are probably as rich as God now?” It’s just a nothing song. It’s a sonic void.


Also, Mary Timony stole the song that I hate the most, which is “Your Body IsA Wonderland.” I was really bummed about that.

AVC: Do you think you’ll ever cross paths with The Lumineers? Maybe you’ll both play the same festival.


MP: I think I’m about one degree away from The Lumineers. I have a friend who was offered a spot to open up for them once. He didn’t do it. And so, yeah. I’m pretty close. But I already feel icky knowing that much about them.

AVC: But if you were next to them on a bus today, you wouldn’t know it was them.

MP: They could literally be right next to me right now playing the song, and I’d be like, “Who are you? Get out of my room.”


AVC: It’s not a bad song. It’s just fine.

MP: That’s what makes it so horrifically offensive. It’s not even unlistenable or entertaining in that way that it’s like seeing a car accident or something. I know that sounds crass. But it’s just so plain. It’s like Wonder bread.


Oh my God, I’m watching the video right now and it’s making me dry heave. Oh my God, it’s the worst. He’s wearing suspenders, and two men are wearing these dumb little bowler things and they have really tiny heads. And there’s this nice lady in the band who’s just not playing an instrument! She’s just stomping her feet. I don’t understand. And they’re very happy. And now they’re at a jamboree in a church, and he’s playing a tiny guitar! Which is exactly what I had imagined. I’ve never seen this before. Yeah. Gotta play a tiny guitar. Oh, she has a mandolin. I’m sorry. They’re all wearing suspenders, and it’s gross.

AVC: On the always accurate Wikipedia, it says that “Ho Hey” had one of the longest chart runs ever on the Billboard Hot 100. It was on the chart for 62 weeks, and it has sold over four million copies of the single.


MP: [Groans.] Why can’t that happen to me?!

AVC: Well, it could, if you start The Mason Jars.

MP: Well, at least we have a name.