Two years ago, I wrote a post about Jane Child to celebrate Canada’s Independence. This year, I want to talk about the Barenaked Ladies and their infamous song, “One Week”.
Before you say “Wait, what?”, hear me out! “One Week” was one of the musical themes during the fourth grade. I still remember riding in my mom’s car, hearing then-musical newcomers such as Britney Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and etc. on the radio, and debating which boy band member was the best during lunch time. Even though the Barenaked Ladies weren’t technically new when they released “One Week” in 1998 (as they formed ten years earlier), they were pretty new to me as well as the United States music scene back then.
Why was “One Week” such a popular song back in the 90s? You have to admit, the musicality of the song isn’t anything amazing; a basic 90s’ rock song that doesn’t have any amazing vocals nor instrumental solo that really stand out. Yet, the answer doesn’t lie in the musicality, but more in the lyrics. These lines are oozing with multiple pop culture references. As someone wrote on the song’s Wikipedia article: “The song is rife with pop culture references, which includes the following: Aquaman, Swiss Chalet, LeAnn Rimes, Bert Kaempfert, The X-Files and its character, The Smoking Man, the film Frantic and its star Harrison Ford, Sting and tantric sex, Snickers, sushi and wasabi, golf clubs, the film Vertigo, Akira Kurosawa and his film Seven Samurai, Sailor Moon, A Tribe Called Quest’s song “Scenario”, Birchmount Stadium and its annual Robbie International Soccer Tournament.”
These popular references give listeners something to relate to. For example, I have watched X-Files with the lights on (who hasn’t done this?). — though I had to because I watched X-Files as a young girl and let me tell you, that show was scary as hell when you are young. Another example is the Sailor Moon reference. Whenever this song came on the radio, I would always wait for my favorite part, which was when the band’s vocalist Ed Robertson sang: “Gotta get in tune with Sailor Moon Cause that cartoon has got the boom anime babes”. I was beginning to become a big fan of Sailor Moon when this song came out twenty years ago. So, when I heard it being mentioned in a hit song, I became super excited: someone famous knows my favorite anime, and put it in a popular song!
Robertson also makes this song addictive to sing to with his smooth style of rapping during the verses. The cleverness of how Robertson writes the lyrics also makes anyone want to sing this at karaoke.
“One Week” might not be memorable as a talented musical piece like Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always As Love You”. But with its bouncy rhymes and pop culture references, the song made listeners excited to listen for our favorite pop culture items inside the tune back in the 90s. Now, it lets us reminiscence on 90s’ pop culture.
Were you are big of “One Week” back in the day?
About the Band:
Barenaked Ladies is a Canadian rock band with four members: Jim Creeggan (vocals and bass), Kevin Hearn (guitar, keyboard, and vocals), Ed Robertson (guitar and vocals) and Tyler Stewart (vocals and drums). Barenaked Ladies formed in 1988 in Ontario as a duo (Robertson and Steven Page). The band kept adding members afterward with brothers Jim and Andy Creeggan joining at the end of 1989 and Stewart was added in 1990. When Andy Creeggan left the group in 1995, he was replaced by Kevin Hearn. Also, Steven Page retired in 2009.
The group released their first album, named “Buck Naked” in 1988 as a cassette tape under a indies label. The became popular when they released their third indies album, named “The Yellow Tape”, in 1991. The album reached #9 on the Canadian charts. Due to the success of “The Yellow Tape”, the band signed with the major label Reprise a year after and released “Gordon”, which reached #1 on the charts. They broke into the US music market in 1998 with the release of “Stunt”, which reached #3 on the charts there.
The band is still active as a quartet as they released the album “Fake Nude” last year.
 “One Week (Song).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 June 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Week_(song).