by Teagan Hughes
[originally posted December 2020]
Since its original release in 2003, Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” has become a beloved one hit wonder and a prime example of early 2000s cheese. Such a beloved song can’t help but spawn dozens of imitators. But who among them is the best? Who among them has created a “Stacy’s Mom” experience to rival the original? Here are ten of the contenders, ranked from worst to best.
A quick disclaimer before I begin: this list is my personal opinion, determined by my own personal criteria, which I will list here.
The best covers of the bunch must first be substantively different from the original in style. (Addition of new instruments is a bonus.)
They must carry the energy of the original through the entire song without a significant loss in momentum (for me, it’s all about the moment the guitar solo transitions into the third chorus--that is the make-or-break moment for a good cover of “Stacy’s Mom”).
Last but not least, they must be fun. If you take the fun out of “Stacy’s Mom,” it becomes merely a shell of its former self.
Without further ado, here are ten covers of “Stacy’s Mom,” ranked.
At first glance, this cover cultivates a nice atmosphere and definitely puts its own stamp on the song. However, the polished veneer takes away from the affable tackiness of the original, and the subtle melody changes kill the momentum. “Stacy’s Mom” just doesn’t lend itself well to EDM.
Again, this cover gives the song a similarly polished veneer that just sucks all the fun out of it. It’s disturbingly featureless. This arrangement completely kills the momentum coming off of the guitar solo by cutting from the solo to an unnecessary rehashing of the intro and prechorus, rather than the third chorus (why mess with a winning formula, Jay?). Also, Jay Putty makes a few subtle changes to the lyrics (e.g. “Stacy can’t you see” instead of “baby can’t you see” in the prechorus) that make me think that they just forgot the words and were too lazy to do another take. Soulless.
This is the first and only a cappella version of “Stacy’s Mom” on the list. I do enjoy how they translated the guitar solo into vocals, and they do get some extra points for the hand claps in the third chorus. However, the slow, dramatic build into the second verse is bizarre, and some of the added lyrics in the backing vocals (e.g. “I want the business, give me the business” when the first verse mentions a business trip) distract from the vocal melody (an egregious infringement). In conclusion, I never want to hear another a cappella version of “Stacy’s Mom”--including the one that I was in.
This cover goes above and beyond to put its own stamp on “Stacy’s Mom,” and you can tell that the vocalist is really giving their all. My major gripe with this cover is that it sounds like the vocal melody of “Stacy’s Mom” overlaid onto another song entirely. They have taken virtually no steps to recreate or restyle the iconic intro or the backing vocals, instead choosing to omit them entirely.
Malo takes definitive steps to claim “Stacy’s Mom” as their own, and injects a great deal of energy into both the guitarwork and the vocals. I do think that this cover is having a bit of an identity crisis. There is just enough screaming in this version to throw you off, but not enough to fully characterize the song. If their goal was to create a screamo version of “Stacy’s Mom,” they should have leaned into it more.
After Our Juliet gives “Stacy’s Mom” more of a pop punk edge, with energetic vocals and dense, poppy guitar. This arrangement does kill the momentum of the song going into the third chorus by cutting abruptly from the guitar solo to a slow piano section--I appreciate the intention, but not the end result. They also forgo the melody of the iconic chorus, opting instead to use the original version’s backing harmony as the melody. This knocked them down a rank or two in my book.
Games We Play makes some welcome changes to their version of “Stacy’s Mom.” Their reworking of the intro is new while still being recognizably “Stacy’s Mom.” They sing the second verse of the song (and only the second verse) the octave up from the original, which gives it some wonderful intensity, but also kills the momentum going into the second pre-chorus when they have to jump the octave back down.
This cover is definitely an outlier from the rest in that it is performed by a marching band. However, this version brought me to the life-changing realization that “Stacy’s Mom” is the ideal marching band song. The harmonies that make the original so fun and memorable work wonderfully in a marching band setting, and the transition into the third chorus is perhaps the best of any on this list.
The vocals in this version are some of my favorites. First to Eleven also plays with the arrangement of the song, adding some attention-getting pauses and new riffs. Their interpretation of the chorus offers a new perspective while carrying all of the liveliness of the original “Stacy’s Mom.” But considering its stylistic similarity to the original, First to Eleven plays it a little too safe to be number one.
The winner of this showdown comes to us from none other than the world of ska. The Holophonics manage to put their own stamp on the song while carrying the energy and the momentum of the original all the way through to the end. While there are some quirks that keep it from being the perfect cover, The Holophonics deliver all the fun and the tackiness of the original while not doing anything ill-advised enough to shatter your immersion in the “Stacy’s Mom” experience.