The commencement tune that’ll inaugurate the rite of passage known as the high-school graduation this year ain’t necessarily gonna be “Pomp and Circumstance.” And for that, Generation Y can thank Vitamin C and her god-awful, er, best-selling ditty, “Graduation (Friends Forever).”
For those who have yet to become casualties of the teen-pop assault, Vitamin C (not to confused with the little known Oakland-based rapper of the same call name) is actually Colleen Fitzgerald — erstwhile frontwoman for the disbanded alt rock group Eve’s Plum. Fitzgerald went solo as a singer-songwriter to churn out sunny, happy tunes (hence her name) for her self-titled debut album released late last year.
The “Graduation” song in question is actually more like a rap (with lines of introspection like “where we’re gonna be/when we turn twenty-five”). Its chief distinguishing feature is its borrowed riff — an electronic, bass-heavy reworking of “Pachelbel’s Canon in D.”
Pachelbel is none other than Johann Pachelbel (circa 1653-1706), the German organist-composer whose musical works — besides having an obvious effect on Miss C — were also known to have influenced Bach. And “Pachelbel’s Canon,” the warm, nostalgic number composed out of a short sequence of notes through circular repetitions and gradual build ups, has remained one of the composer’s most beloved compositions, present at as many weddings as funerals.
Given the current popularity of the digitized rap rendition, can the original composition ride the waves of its postmodern remake and become, all of a sudden, hip for a whole new generation? In short, we wondered: Is Pachelbel, dead or no, a popmeister for the 21st century?
“Well, it’s hard to tell, [the composition] is so well-known on its own already. To me, it doesn’t need to be borrowed in this way for it to become more popular,” Jean Perreault, author of “”Johann Pachelbel, 1653 to 1706: A thematic Catalogue of His Musical Works,”tells Hollywood.com.
The Alabama-based Perreault still has yet to lay ears of the Vitamin C song. And Pachelbel scholar or no, he is not offended by the concept of the remake when we described it to him. “Offhand, I think it would be a particularly appropriate composition for sampling because of its structural repetitiveness.”
Says Perreault: “There are lot of present-day versions of it, and a lot of different kind of instrumental group and vocal group have tried to find different ways to rework the tune. I think it’s very common for people to borrow stuff. I don’t see anything terribly wrong about it.”
But how about Pachelbel? Would the composer have any gripe? Is the “Graduation” song a travesty or an homage?
“[Pachelbel] wrote very little that was not intended for the church, so he might disapprove of the rap version. But, on the other hand, he might have been pleased that his song is being accepted in such a broad way.”
Either way, if venerated composer is really rolling over in his grave, all he has to keep in mind is that Vitamin C will surely get it much worse in, like, two years.