The most recent entry in The A.V. Club’s feature The New Cult Canon is a piece on Bottle Rocket, the first movie by director Wes Anderson. In the article, and in the comment section below it, is a discussion of whether Anderson’s distinctive voice as a filmmaker is a mark of auteurism or proof of his limited abilities. “Wes Anderson is a director forever doomed to make Wes Anderson movies,” Scott Tobias writes. Whether or not that is a good thing depends on if you appreciate his strong visual style and his gentle yet weird brand of humor, or if you consider his films to be stuffy, stilted and too-precious. Personally, I am a fan of Wes Anderson, although I thought The Darjeeling Limited veered uncomfortably close to self-parody. But is my perception of that movie based on what’s actually on the screen, or am I suffering from some sort of Anderson-fatigue? If The Darjeeling Limited were the first Wes Anderson movie I had ever seen, would I still feel the same way?
Likewise, The Four Seasons were a band forever doomed to make Four Seasons songs. The group’s singular sound, indebted to doo wop yet distinct from it, arrived fully formed on its first charting single, “Sherry.” Where could they go from a sound that complete and successful? Tinkering with their sound would risk losing what made them special. So you can’t really blame them for releasing the soundalike “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” It checks all the same boxes that “Sherry” does, for better or worse, which makes the matter of rating it a bit difficult. If it’s more or less the same record, it would seem only fair to give it the same rating – in this case, a 7. However, it isn’t as exciting this go around. I almost want to penalize “Big Girls Don’t Cry” because The Four Seasons didn’t change anything, even while acknowledging that doing so would probably be to their detriment. While this is only the group’s second single to be featured here, it’s far from the last. I’m going to have to consider these same issues each time I’m due to write about them or any other group with a narrowly defined aesthetic. But for now, I’ll have to rely on this blog’s principle of freedom from context. I like “Sherry” and I like “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Does it really matter which came first? 7
Hit #1 on November 17, 1962; total of 5 weeks at #1
81 of 976 #1’s reviewed; 8.30% through the Hot 100