A fine whine imported from Canada.
Simple Plan was a Canadian act that positioned itself as “pop-punk”–they had the board shorts, the sneakers, the spiky haircut. But listening to the band’s biggest U.S. hit “Perfect,” a son-to-father plaint that’s not even as deep as the “I learned it by watching you” anti-drug ad, you can see the way that “pop-punk,” instead of becoming leaner and meaner as the times did the same, spent the earlier part of this decade becoming as compressed-yet-bloated as its rock-radio analogue.
Isolate the music of “Perfect” from its vocals and you’ll hear a song that has the ear-crushing production of Creed’s 1999 breakthrough hit “Higher”–hell, play the two at the same time and you’ll see that the structure of the songs is essentially the same, from the soft, “sensitive” intro to the pummeling guitar/bass/drum assault everywhere else. (The one thing is that the guitar work on the Creed track is decidedly more skilled. See? Punk’s not dead!)
And then there’s lead whinger Pierre Bouvier’s voice, a nasal whine that makes one wonder if he has a secret boy-band past hidden somewhere underneath his tattoos. At the very least, another Max Martin-produced love song would have been easier to swallow than the four minutes of pouting that make up “Perfect.” (It’s probably worth keeping in mind that it’s from an album called No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls. Dick jokes: The real ties that bind.)
I try not to think
About the pain I feel inside
Did you know you used to be my hero?
All the days you spent with me
Now seem so far away
And it feels like you don’t care anymore
And now I try hard to make it
I just want to make you proud
I’m never gonna be good enough for you
I can’t stand another fight
And nothing’s alright
This awkward-dinner-table-ready patter proved to be catnip for North America’s teenagers, who were just discovering Livejournal at the time and who, presumably, needed some lyrics to use as blockquoted and blink-tagged epigrams for the latest instance of their parents just not understanding. But just to prove that the sulking “Perfect” didn’t define Bouvier, he went on to become the host of an MTV show where parents spied on their kids, who would win large cash prizes if they did the right thing and told the truth. I guess this is growing up?