One-hit wonder extended catalog: Len

Photo Credit: Len/Work Records

Photo Credit: Len/Work Records

BY SCOTT PHILLIPS

Each week, Poor Scholars digs a little bit deeper into the catalog of an infamous “one-hit wonder” by listening to their other “top hits” on Spotify to explore what exactly went wrong. This week, Poor Scholars’ Scott Phillips breaks down the other songs of Len.

The One Hit

Canadian (alternative?) band Len, consisting of siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo, broke onto the scene in 1999 with their upbeat anthem, “Steal My Sunshine”, only to never catch on in the U.S. again. “Steal My Sunshine” is still great to throw on randomly at parties and at bars and was also supposedly inspired by The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” (which I also still enjoy).

The music video is also rather enjoyable, and comes with a phenomenal back story courtesy of Melody Maker 

The group used a $100,000 budget to make the video. They flew to Daytona Beach, Florida with two dozen friends while the area was crowded with people on their spring vacations. They spent much of the budget on alcohol, buying so much that they broke their hotel’s elevator trying to lift it. They shot the video in the afternoon so that they could recover from hangovers in the morning and drink in the evening. The scenes were shot without a script or storyboard. In the video, Len and its friends are shown relaxing together and riding on scooters, go-karts, and jet skis.

The song was also famously featured in the movie Go, which helped catapult the song up the charts and forced the suddenly red-hot Len to bump up the release of their third album, You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush, by a month. Disgraced baseball player Melky Cabrera also used “Steal My Sunshine” as his at-bat intro music for a time.

The Other “Top Hits” on Spotify

“Kids in America” – When you listen to Len’s cover of the Kim Wilde original (which has been covered by NUMEROUS bands, most notably The Muffs, whose version of  “Kids in America” was featured in Clueless and the video game “Rock Band 2”) you begin to understand why the wheels came off. This song is AWFUL. Sharon Costanzo’s voice gives me the bad kind goosebumps and the beat is really overdone with table scratches to end it!!! There is nothing redeemable about this cover and Len probably released this song just to appear on the Digimon The Movie soundtrack.

“Cryptik Souls Crew” – This song somehow reached No.28 on the UK singles chart and holds the distinction of being Len’s ONLY other song to chart besides “Steal My Sunshine”. “Cryptik Souls Crew” didn’t even chart in Len’s native Canada for God’s sake. This might be the lamest attempt at a hip-hop posse cut ever attempted. This is also likely the only “hip-hop video” in which snowboarding is the primary focus.

“Man of the Year”– The first minute of this song reminds me of the beat-boxing of Die Antwoord’s “Beat Boy” coupled with a beat that initially makes me think of “Fergalicious”. If that sounds horrible, it’s because it is. THEN they drop in a robot voice that’s indecipherable and continue with this nonsense for over five minutes, occasionally adding Sharon’s female “voice” for added noise. What a train wreck.

The Verdict

It’s easy to see why Len was a one-hit wonder. While “Steal My Sunshine” keeps things relatively simple — and still holds up as a good song — when Len attempts to add different dimensions to different tracks it fails fucking miserably. But hey, Len cleaned up at the 1999 MuchMusic Video Awards, winning three awards, so what do I know?

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