This is one of my favorite movies. It's the definition of lite fare, I'll give you that. It's just so damn good, it encapsulates that certain, as the French say, "I don't know what" about music in general. I wouldn't be writing a blog about old albums that I love if it weren't for my utter devotion to music. I spend a good eight hours a day at least intently listening to music. So anything outside of actual music that speaks to the emotions I feel towards my obsession, well, I love that just about as much. That Thing You Do! is a love letter to music from Tom Hanks, who directed this film and even wrote four of the songs on the soundtrack.
The album starts out with a 50s style vocal group style song The Norm Wooster Singers called "Lovin' You Lots And Lots". I was easily fooled by this song, thinking it was an artifact from the era. All of the songs here are by fictional bands, The Wonders included. The album itself is presented like a Rhino-style reissue of a lost early sixties pop band, complete with liner notes written by Hanks' character in the movie. He proves to be quite a smart song-writer as well. The best by far is "Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart" by The Chantrellines which emulates what would be a fantastic lost Supremes song.
**Here's an aside about lost Supremes songs, I had this dream about getting this 45 of The Supremes covering "Peggy Sue" it was fantastic, Holly's chugging guitar was replaced with distorted guitar being chased by a big Motown string section. I was really disappointed when the dream ended and I realized the song didn't really exist.**
Some material doesn't stand up so well, a re-write of "That Thing You Do" called "I Need You (That Thing You Do)" is pretty abysmal, and sounds the least like an actual song from the period and more like a song from a middling power-pop outfit from the nineties. Speaking of which, the title song was written by the guy from The Fountains of Wayne. It's got to be disappointing when one of the best songs you've ever written is so inextricably tied to a movie, and not performed by you.
It's no small feat to create an entire album of fictional period music from the early sixties and make it a good fictional album.