Single Review: American Hi-Fi “The Art of Losing”

The Art of Losing
Album: The Art of Losing
Year: 2002

Lead singer Stacy Jones relishes his loser status in the ordinary “Art of Losing.”

Cracking percussion and determined guitars coupled with Jones’ “ahhhs” set a fearless, promising tone. Jones is not the type to back down easily.

Except maybe he is. Jones’ whines that he has to leave the local hangout. He’s without a girlfriend and any allies. People don’t expect much from him. He notices the people are walking down the downtown area of the suburb, laughing and teasing each other. But he feels like something is off. A friend tells him he’ll find someone soon but he tunes out the advice. People have told him he needs to talk to a therapist. (“Last call now I’m outta time/And I don’t got no valentine/Singled out, now I stand alone/The underdog in a modern world/Suburbia is hot tonight/But nothing seems to feel alright/I don’t want your sympathy/I just need a little therapy/
At least that’s what they say to me.”)

The possibility the single may fulfill its heady beginning disappears as Jones tears into a snotty, cheap chorus. He references the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” with the “Hey ho, let’s go” to start. Then, he declares that he’s going to change the world and screw anyone who doesn’t believe he will. He sees the lives of the adults around him and thinks it’s a joke. However, he’s the one who criticizes himself the most. But if anyone were to do the same, it motivates him. (“Hey ho let’s go/I’m gonna start a riot/You don’t wanna fight it/One two f*** you/Don’t tell me what to do/I don’t wanna be like you/Can’t you see it’s killing me/I’m my own worst enemy/
Knock me down I’ll keep on moving/It’s the art of losing.”)

The bold opening returns again. But it’s as good as the single gets.

In the second verse, he belittles people who work hard for their bosses in a 9 to 5 job. His excuse for a lack of dreams is that he’s not popular. He aims to not follow society’s norms and make his own. Just to burst the bubble for a moment: not following society’s basic norms still means paying the rent. (“Fit the mold and do what you’re told/Get a job and start growing old/
9 to 5 can make your dreams come true/But I don’t wanna be like you/I’m not cool and I’ll never be/I break the rules and I guarantee/I don’t want your sympathy….at least that’s what they say to me.”)

The guitars become pensive and the drumsticks click together as Jones quietly says that people can put him down. But it won’t stop him from achieving his nonconformist conformist’s dream. (“You call me a loser/Say I’m just a user/But I’ll just keep on moving/Cause that’s the art of losing.”) Without any buildup, the excellent opening bursts in.

Then, the blah chorus is whined again. At the end, Jones references the ending of the1981 hit “Kids In America” by Kim Wilde. (“We’re the kids/We’re the kids/We’re the kids in America/We’re the kids/We’re the kids/We’re the kids in America.”)

The disappointing single cannot live up to it’s opening notes. The choruses and verses are the typical complaining of not wanting to do anything with their lives. The bridge and the beginning seem to be from another song entirely. American Hi-Fi seems to have the talent the other bands in their genre do not have. However, they are driven to be mediocre, not great.

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