What two pieces of unrelated pop culture are forever connected in your mind?

What two pieces of unrelated pop culture are forever connected in your mind?

What, doesn’t everyone think of “Tubthumping” when they think of Bye Bye Birdie?
What, doesn’t everyone think of “Tubthumping” when they think of Bye Bye Birdie?
Graphic: Rebecca Fassola
AVQ&AWelcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences.

This week’s AVQ&A is inspired by reader Steve LeGrow’s question:

I have a suggestion, but I’m not entirely sure how to explain it without giving an example first. When I was 9 years old, I purchased The Blue Album by Weezer and would listen to it constantly while playing Super Mario Bros 2 on the NES. To this day (I’m 35 now) I can’t hear that album without thinking of that game, and vice versa. It’s a win-win for me, because I genuinely love both of them. I was wondering if anyone else links two entirely separate pieces of art together like that, for better or for worse.

So we’re asking:

What two pieces of otherwise unrelated pop culture are forever connected in your mind?

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2 / 12

Homestuck and Persona 4

Homestuck and Persona 4

Ah, to relive the summer of Homestuck and Persona 4. On any objective measure, I consumed these two massive Blocks O’ Content (an 8,000-plus-pages multimedia webcomic, and a 100-hour high school demon-battlin’ video game, respectively) at what was one of the lowest periods of my life, as I shuffled glumly through the burnt-out wreckage of my graduate school career in the early 2010s. But there’s an undeniable and shared silver lining attached to both of these projects for me, one that has less to do with the minutiae of teenagers sticking their heads in TVs, or Andrew Hussie’s efforts to channel all of internet chat culture into a single sci-fi/video game/memelord universe, than it has to do with the fact that I had the time to consume them. The idea of throwing myself into any piece of art so massive is now exhausting to the point of intimidation; the fact that I consumed two in the span of a single summer speaks to a very distant (and probably far more insufferable) version of myself, who I nevertheless sort of miss. [William Hughes]

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3 / 12

To All The Boys I Loved Before and Ariana Grande’s Sweetener

To All The Boys I Loved Before and Ariana Grande’s Sweetener

Summer 2018—which my best friend refers to as the “Summer Of Soft Yearning” in a way that’s only a little bit ironic—was the summer I believed in love. Allow me to set the scene: Ariana Grande just announced her whirlwind engagement to Pete Davidson and the pair were spotted sipping iced coffees and making googly eyes at each other all around NYC. On August 17, the same day Grande released the album Sweetener, which featured a handful of songs about Davidson and their ill-fated romance, Netflix also released the film To All The Boys I Loved Before. I kept that album and that movie on repeat for a least a month. It’s hard to not think of one without the other. And it’s harder yet not to think fondly about those short blissful weeks (before Ari’s engagement ended and before Noah Centineo uploaded a few too many cringe thirst traps on the ’gram) when love felt innocent and uncomplicated. [Shanicka Anderson]

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4 / 12

Independence Day and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullins Jr.’s Mission: Impossible theme

Independence Day and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullins Jr.’s Mission: Impossible theme

Much as the fresh smell of motor oil will take me back to the deeply unpleasant weeks I spent cleaning out a garage in high school, so, too, does the melodious sound of the Mission: Impossible theme immediately summon memories of that halcyon afternoon in 1996 when I received a phone call from a friend in school: “Alex. I am standing in line for ID4. Get here now.” He was referring, of course, to the promotional-campaign shorthand for the movie Independence Day, in that special way that only young kids who have no sense of irony or disconnect from consumer culture can really achieve. Needless to say, I felt it vital that I join him before the movie started. I had about 10 minutes to get there, so I frantically summoned my parents to start the car and drop me at the mall—but while we drove, the radio began playing the aforementioned theme. Not the original, mind you, but the “Mission: Impossible Theme” created by U2’s Adam Clayton and Larry Mullins Jr. for the Tom Cruise film adaptation. It was a hit that summer, and thus on the radio constantly, but it still felt like kismet that it began playing as I rushed to attend the umpteenth pop-culture event of that summer that felt like a world-altering experience. It wasn’t, even though that movie holds up pretty well. [Alex McLevy]

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5 / 12

Half-Life 2 and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Half-Life 2 and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

In my mind, nothing goes together better than Headcrabs and songs about the ghost of Anne Frank. When I was in college, I first started listening to Neutral Milk Hotel and started playing Half-Life 2 right around the same time, and I specifically remember putting on In The Aeroplane Over The Sea while going through the famously spooky “We Don’t Go To Ravenholm” sequence and feeling like the combination really accentuated the best parts of both things. I would never peg Aeroplane as horror music, but NMH certainly has kind of a haunting vibe and it really suits Half-Life 2’s vaguely European zombie-filled ghost town. [Sam Barsanti]

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6 / 12

Love And Rockets and The Replacements’ “Valentine”

Love And Rockets and The Replacements’ “Valentine”

I had a guidebook to help craft my young adult persona: the punk-filled Love And Rockets comics by Los Bros Hernandez. (I even brought issues to the person who cut my hair to perfectly mimic Hopey’s scarecrow cut.) I wasn’t alone in my idolatry, so much so that one month, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez listed some of their favorite albums/influences in the letters section (Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, Dolly Parton). I was probably already getting into The Replacements, but the Bros’ endorsement on that page meant a lot to me, and I quickly dove as deep into ’Mats albums as I did to L&R comics. When “Valentine” lyrics appeared in the panel background detailing the night Maggie first hooked up with Ray (“If you were a pill… I’d take a handful at my will”), I couldn’t think of anything more romantic. [Gwen Ihnat]

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7 / 12

Samurai Jack and Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

Samurai Jack and Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

I can’t believe I’m admitting to this, but I did a lot of embarrassing stoner nonsense in my late teens, including putting on an album at the same time as a movie and trying a little too hard to be blown away by how well they matched up, dude. Only once did they combine in any significant way, and that was the time we watched Samurai Jack (the “premiere movie” that combined the first three episodes on one DVD, if you’re interested) to a soundtrack of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. Turns out sweeping, epic post-rock instrumentals pair nicely with stylized samurai action, particularly a sequence where Samurai Jack climbs a mountain that had the whole room screaming, “Are you seeing this right now?!” At least, it felt like screaming at the time… [Katie Rife]

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8 / 12

Bye Bye Birdie and Chumbawumba’s Tubthumper

Bye Bye Birdie and Chumbawumba’s Tubthumper

I also can’t believe I’m admitting this, but the first compact disc I ever owned was Chumbawumba’s eighth (?!) studio album, Tubthumper. Graduating from tapes to CDs made me feel so… millennial. I got the CD at the end of a long day of hunting for costumes to wear in our school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie and couldn’t wait to show off my Discman at the next rehearsal. Now and forever, “Tubthumping” will live etched in my mind right next to “Telephone Hour.” [Patrick Gomez]

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9 / 12

Genesis’ “Invisible Touch” and billiards

Genesis’ “Invisible Touch” and billiards

Genesis’ “Invisible Touch” made me a better pool player… by making everyone around me measurably worse. I don’t know why that song got under the skin of my friends in college to throw them off their game, or how I landed on it in the first place. Was it Phil Collins, who plays pool in the video, singing in a higher register than he was accustomed to? Were they just really big Peter Gabriel fans? Whatever the case, if I had the change and was playing pool, the sounds of “Invisible Touch” inevitably filled the student union for three-and-a-half minutes at a time. To this day, when I play pool, I look for that album and that track on the jukebox. [Danette Chavez]

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10 / 12

Pokémon Emerald and the Hitch soundtrack

Pokémon Emerald and the Hitch soundtrack

I was deep in my Pokémon Emerald phase when Hitch was released in theaters. The film’s muddled message hasn’t really aged well, but damnit, its soundtrack has. The album is stacked with R&B/soul heavy hitters—Amerie, Earth, Wind, & Fire, The O’Jays—and was basically on repeat while I played Emerald. Whenever I hear “1 Thing,” it immediately transports me back to those four-hour long gameplay sessions. [Baraka Kaseko]

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11 / 12

The Beatles’ Anthology 1 and John Bellairs’ The Curse Of The Blue Figurine

The Beatles’ Anthology 1 and John Bellairs’ The Curse Of The Blue Figurine

Back when I had an attention span that was not yet corrupted by multi-tab internet browsing, I spent a lot of family vacations in the back seat of a car with headphones on my ears and a book in my lap. One such trip took place at the intersection of my earliest interest in The Beatles and the peak of my enthusiasm for the gently macabre suspense tales of John Bellairs—and for that reason, the first little memory cocktail that sprung to mind following this prompt was Anthology 1 and The Curse Of The Blue Figurine. I mostly remember the book for a geographical red herring involving Cairo, Illinois, but I’ve scarcely been able to glimpse the cross-hatched illustrations of Edward Gorey without also hearing Paul McCartney covering “Till There Was You” on The Royal Variety Performance. [Erik Adams]

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12 / 12