R.I.P. Adam Schlesinger: 5 Songs to Celebrate the Life of the Fountains of Wayne Songwriter

Adam Schlesinger, the co-founder of the band Fountains of Wayne, died Wednesday morning due to coronavirus complications, according to Variety.

Though Fountains of Wayne was most known for the hit single "Stacy's Mom," Schlesinger was also an Emmy-winning songwriter for the CW musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He received an Oscar nomination for writing the title song to That Thing You Do, directed by Tom Hanks, as well as two Tony nominations for his work on the musical adaptation of John Waters' film Cry-Baby in 2008. In addition to his songwriting, Schlesinger produced recordings for such musical artists as The Monkees, Dashboard Confessional, They Might Be Giants and Robert Plant.

Schlesinger was hospitalized last week after being exposed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It was reported that his condition was improving on Tuesday, and his family told Billboard at the time that they were "cautiously optimistic" that he would fully recover.

Newsweek reached out to Chris Collingwood's publicist for comment. Collingwood was the co-founder and lead vocalist of Fountains of Wayne. Newsweek also reached out to Rachel Bloom's publicist; Bloom was the star and Schlesinger's songwriting partner for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

To celebrate his life, Newsweek has compiled a list of five of his best songs.

adam schlesinger
Adam Schlesinger, shown here performing in 2011 with his band Fountains of Wayne, passed away Wednesday due to complications from the coronavirus. Ben Hider/Getty

5 of Adam Schlesinger's Best Songs

1. Fountains of Wayne - "Denise"

"Denise," the lead single from the second Fountains of Wayne LP, 1999's Utopia Parkway, is a perfect bit of synth-driven power-pop. The song is a parody of songs about a beautiful woman, layered with ridiculous-yet-clever rhymes like "She drives a lavender Lexus / She lives in Queens but her dad lives in Texas," combined with a catchily empty chorus based around the phrase "Do you love me Denise?" layered with "Sha-la-la-la-la"s and "whoa-ohs." Despite being a spoof of sorts, the song works as its own perfect pop confection.

2. Michael Hyatt - "Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal"

Adam Schlesinger was the Executive Music Producer for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW musical comedy starring Rachel Bloom. He wrote or co-wrote nearly every song for the series, and earned a number of Emmy nominations for his work. "Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal," from the series' final season, written with Bloom and Jack Dolgen, however, won Schlesinger the Emmy—and in addition to being an outstanding song about taking care of your own mental health, it's a show tune masterfully sung by Michael Hyatt, who plays therapist Dr. Akopian in the series.

3. The Wonders - "That Thing You Do"

Though The Wonders, stars of Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do, weren't a real band, they did have a real hit in the song's title track. The song was written by Schlesinger, earning him nominations for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Though Schlesinger wrote the track, he doesn't sing lead; the voice of fictional Wonders lead singer Jimmy Mattingly II was provided by rock singer and songwriter Mike Viola. Schlesinger does provide harmony vocals, however.

4. Fountains of Wayne - "Yolanda Hayes"

Taken from the penultimate Fountains of Wayne album, Traffic and Weather, "Yolanda Hayes" is the bounciest, most Beatle-esque song about going to the DMV ever written. The narrator of the song describes his crush on the titular clerk, wondering "has anybody really tried / to cross that line, to get inside." But unlike most song crushes, "Yolanda Hayes" keeps the song vague as to whether or not the crush is requited—but the song's final lines give a hopeful hint: "I hit her with my very best pickup line / She puts down my file, stares at me a while / And I swear I see her crack a little smile."

5. Tinted Windows - "Kind of a Girl"

Outside of Fountains of Wayne and writing for TV, theater and film, Schlesinger had a number of side projects, including Tinted Windows. The power-pop supergroup featured Schlesinger as lead songwriter and bassist, the Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha on guitar, Hanson's Taylor Hanson on lead vocals and Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos on drums. Though the record wasn't a big hit, and the group only recorded one album, the lead single, "Kind of a Girl" is the kind of perfect power-pop that Schlesinger excelled at.

R.I.P. Adam Schlesinger: 5 Songs to Celebrate the Life of the Fountains of Wayne Songwriter | Culture