One-Hit Wonders / Second Best Songs: Harvey Danger And 'Flagpole Sitta' For NPR's "One-Hit Wonders/Second-Best Songs," NPR Music's Stephen Thompson recommends "Happiness Writes White" by the band Harvey Danger. The band is known mostly for their 1997 hit "Flagpole Sitta."
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The Forgotten Wordplay And Songcraft Of Harvey Danger

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The Forgotten Wordplay And Songcraft Of Harvey Danger

The Forgotten Wordplay And Songcraft Of Harvey Danger

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NOEL KING, HOST:

The band Harvey Danger hit it big with this song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAGPOLE SITTA")

HARVEY DANGER: (Singing) I'm not sick, but I'm not well. And I'm so hot 'cause I'm in hell.

KING: That is "Flagpole Sitta." It was all over rock radio in the late '90s, but the band never reached that sort of mainstream success again. Stephen Thompson of NPR Music thinks we are missing out by not knowing more about Harvey Danger. They're his pick for our series One-Hit Wonders/Second-Best Songs.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: "Flagpole Sitta" made it onto a compilation of jock jams for crowds to pump their fists to. And it's just so funny. Like, that's not really what Harvey Danger was all about. Harvey Danger was much more about kind of wordplay and emotion. And the fact that they're big hit is this (vocalizing) is kind of ironic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAGPOLE SITTA")

HARVEY DANGER: (Singing) Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me.

THOMPSON: I just started scribbling down notes about song after song after song. Harvey Danger's final song - they broke up in 2009 - is called "The Show Must Not Go On." And it's about divorce and kind of the importance of a well-timed ending. There's a song called "Pike St./Park Slope," which is about never really finding what you're looking for. There's a song called "Carlotta Valdez," which is basically the plot of "Vertigo." And I've just listed a bunch of songs and not even gotten to the one that jumps out the most to me as one that I wish kind of could have been maybe Harvey Danger's biggest hit, a song called "Happiness Writes White."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPINESS WRITES WHITE")

HARVEY DANGER: (Singing) Ariella, 7:30, I don't want to get up yet. Listen to the morning music, cursing the alarm you set. As you know...

THOMPSON: So "Happiness Writes White" is just the songwriter's dilemma. It's about, you know, being in love with someone and you try to write a song about that experience, but your love feels so pure and so uncomplicated that it's hard to find a way into writing a song about it. And that's a - even if you're not a songwriter, that's a really relatable way to think about romance, kind of like there's this love at the center of your life and it's the one thing that doesn't make you feel like a screw up (laughter). And then how do you write a song about that? And it is at its heart a wonderfully emotional and rich just celebration of this love.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPINESS WRITES WHITE")

HARVEY DANGER: (Singing) When I consider what you mean to me, it's everything.

THOMPSON: I absolutely adore it. And I really hope that more people kind of go back and get lost in Harvey Danger's catalogue because there is a ton of great songs that go way beyond that one big hit.

KING: That's Stephen Thompson of NPR Music and the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. "Happiness Writes White" by Harvey Danger is his pick for our series One-Hit Wonders/Second-Best Songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPINESS WRITES WHITE")

HARVEY DANGER: (Singing) Curse the hours we have to keep. As you know...

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