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Just Say No to “Don’t Stop Believing”

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Watch out Streetlight People. The tale I tell below is a sad and frightening one filled with many links to Ryan Seacrest (the spiritual son of Dick Clark, my long time personal choice as the Anti-Christ) and American Idol. I bring it up only because our very survival as a species depends on it.

Journey was without a doubt the most popular band in my high school – I graduated in 1984. I hated them then and well, I pretty much still hate them now. I was the guy who would deal with his depression by making the jukebox play The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” 16 times in a row to personally infest everyone within hearing range with my disgust for my current station in life. I pretty much still am, but now it costs a lot more than $4.00 to pull off.

As a fairly conscious watcher of pop culture, I have to ask the following, “Did I miss the ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ meeting”? Was there a big gathering at the docks one night where it was resolved that this Journey staple would suddenly become more prevalent and certainly more beloved than the National Anthem? Could there be a wannabe Hitler out there somewhere in the heartland drilling it into his young, gullible acolytes' heads that “Don’t Stop Believing” is the song that will catapult us forward through this new millennium?

Is Randy Jackson (the American Idol, one not Michael’s brother) now so powerful that having somehow convinced the nation that he was once in Journey, he is now trying to convince us that Journey was and is now bigger than the Beatles? (By the way, I refuse to believe that Randy was ever really in Journey. Every time they show a photo or video from that era it looks like the obviously fake ones they showed on Saturday Night Live to prove that Eddie Murphy had once been unceremoniously kicked out of the Fab Four.)

David Chase used the song to weirdly and unsatisfactorily end his magisterial and infinitely respected HBO series The Sopranos. This I believe to have been the first seed in the Anti-Christ’s plan to have this song take over the world. How else but through the work of Satan could one possibly believe that the ending to that many years of intense buildup would be Tony eats onion rings with his family at a local diner?

James Gandolfini: So David, we’re finally here. How does it end? Do I die? Do I get arrested and thrown in jail? Does my mother come back from the dead and rip my heart out through my throat? We’re all dying to know!

David Chase: I was sort of more leaning to Tony and his family enjoying some onion rings together at one of those cute local diners.

So let down by this ending/non-ending/what the hell was that moment that millions could only disregard the family meal and latch on to the song that was playing while this all went down. Could the true Soprano’s ending be some message within the song? Is David Chase telling me that I should completely reassess the entire Journey recorded catalog? You know I think I always did sort of love that song.

That first seed of evil took root on June 3, 2007. Things ebbed until May 19th of this past year when Fox used its immense American Idol finale audience as a lead in for Glee, a show where a teacher finds spiritual regeneration when his young charges serenade him with an intensely passionate version of you guessed it, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.

Well, if people had said to themselves “You know, I sort of like that song” in 2007, by 2009 they were proud to get up and bellow, “’Don’t Stop Believing’ is the greatest song ever recorded!” Immediately, “Don’t Stop Believing” flew to the top of the iTunes sales chart and not the original but the version by the cast of Glee!

And then suddenly I find out that there is this huge Broadway show starring Constantine from American Idol called Rock of Ages where they revel in all kinds of music that I detested in high school and college, a musical where they bring down the house nightly with “Don’t Stop Believing”!

The song has suddenly become so ubiquitous that yes, even this year’s American Idols, are doing it to climax their summer tour. Heil Perry! Heil Schon! Heil Jackson! Heil Seacrest!

Other uses of this song by the corporate media devils include: The Wedding Singer, Family Guy, Monster, Bedtime Stories, Yes Dear, King of the Hill, The Comebacks, View from the Top, South Park, Cold Case, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, My Name Is Earl, Just Shoot Me, Laguna Beach, and Scrubs.

Kayne West has been dedicating it to his deceased mother!

Let me be the lone spiritual, sane voice in the night when I tell you this. There is no inspiring secret message in “Don’t Stop Believing.” I beg of you to delete this song from your children’s iPods because this sudden derangement of the senses can have no possible positive end point.

I know, I know, you think I’m exaggerating. You use the words “guilty pleasure” to cover up your embarrassment while you sneak outside like a youth in need of a cigarette to tell your best friend, “No one ever had pure sex in his voice like the tight jean wearing Steve Perry!” If this is you, I beg you to seek help because it is clear work of the devil and could bring down our entire civilized world.

1. The only good song Steve Perry ever recorded was “Oh, Sherry” and I’m embarrassed to admit in public that I’ve always sort of liked it.

2. Journey sucked then and they suck now and no amount of Filipino Steve Perry replacements will ever change that.

3. Beware of friends who want you to reappraise old hard-to-admit favorites like Styx, Loverboy, Toto, and REO Speedwagon.

4. The term “Arena Rock” is not and should never be used as a compliment. There is no greatest Arena Rock band of all time, because they all sucked, every single one of them!

I urge you all to never listen to this evil song again. I’m usually opposed to record burnings, but this has gotten way out of hand and I’m beginning to ease on that point as we may truly be on the edge of the final apocalypse. There is a pit of fire and Ryan Seacrest is doing his best to lead you right into it.

“But it’s so inspirational!”

It is not! It is evil! Beware, man, beware!

Let’s take a look at the lyrics to “Don’t Stop Believing” closely, and I think you’ll find that if there is a secret message in this song it’s a cynical one of distance and existential mocking.

Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

Small town girl; lonely word; midnight train – twice; South Detroit; essentially a whole lot of clichés and the future birth of Bon Jovi and neither are good.

A singer in a smoky room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

Who knows what this crap really means, but I’m going to take it to mean that the small town girl slept with the city boy in a detestably cheap and empty way. The romanticism of the opening verse has already plunged into sleaze and defeat with the knowingly cynical observation that this will happen over and over and over again until the death of the sun mockingly brings the end to this charade Journey calls human life!

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

No, Steve Perry isn’t exhorting you to reach your potential; he’s labeling you sick, vacuous zombies of some postwar technological apocalypse!

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time

Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

Steve Perry: You’re nothing but a bunch of slaves! Your fathers were slaves. Your grandfathers were slaves. Your sons will be slaves and the worst part is that you don’t even realize it!

This is a cynical empty excuse for an anthem. David Chase set his onion ring finale around it as a way of saying that the mafia, if not all crime and evil itself, is a day-to-day disease that can never truly be vanquished.

So let this be a call to arms. This is not a good song. Journey was not a good band. This song shouldn’t be banned (and only because I’m against that), but it certainly should be put in a hard-to-reach part of the library. You know, next to where they keep Mein Kampf.

Please, children, stop this scourge. Don’t let Joe Strummer have died in vain. Just say no to “Don’t Stop Believing”!

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About Brad Laidman

  • “Was there a big gathering at the docks one night where it was resolved that this Journey staple would suddenly become more prevalent and certainly more beloved than the National Anthem?”

    Yes, it was held annually at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena for every Red Wings Stanley Cup.

    Even though “South Detroit” is Windsor.

  • JC Mosquito

    Take Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, add it to Cher’s Believe and the Monkees’ I’m a Believer, and it all becomes clear – believe it or not.

  • Puff Saddy

    Don’t Stop Believin’ is a great song. I think you are miffed that a song you hated so much as a teenager, has suddenly captured the imaginations of so many people years later. Yes, it is ironic, however, the song is amazing.

  • Jennifer

    You are funny! I liked the song because like Matthew above I’m from Detroit. But I feel the same way about The Eagles that you do about Journey, so I understand your hatred. I never saw what everyone else did in them and I thought all their songs sucked and were totally depressing.

  • Brad Laidman

    Check out Mojo Nixon’s Don Henley Must Die!

  • journey1

    are you gay. that song is awesome

  • sosaiththeprophet

    Thank god somebody else realizes how bad this band and song are. I don’t know why its’ suddenly okay to say that Journey was good. It’s like a Republican senator admitting to pederasty and the public goes “you know, maybe it’s not that bad…”

  • Ben

    It was that family guy episode a while ago when everyone stops what they’re doing to say “Is that Journey?”, even people carrying a casket into a church, then run off-screen. It caught on and turned into a meme.