Culture News

Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, 52, Dies from COVID-19

Schlesinger co-wrote the hit 2003 song "Stacey's Mom," which has embedded itself in the history of pop-rock as an irreverent cult favorite that soundtracked the early aughts.

Adam Schlesinger co-founder of the pop-rock band Fountains of Wayne

Photo by Violeta Alvarez (Shutterstock)

Founding member of Fountains of Wayne and award-winning songwriter Adam Schlesinger died on Wednesday in upstate New York.

The 52-year-old had been placed on a ventilator after experiencing poor health. Just the day before his death, Fountains of Wayne bandmate Chris Collingwood had taken to Twitter to share Schlesinger's family's statement that "his condition is improving and we are cautiously optimistic." Schlesinger's lawyer Jaime Herman shared their full statement: "Thank you for the outpouring of love for Adam and his family. Adam has been hospitalized with COVID-19. He's on a ventilator and has been sedated to facilitate his recovery. He is receiving excellent care, his condition is improving and we are cautiously optimistic. His family appreciates all of the love and support."

Throughout his career as a producer, engineer, and songwriter, Schlesinger won three Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award for his work, as well as an Oscar nomination for writing the title track for Tom Hank's 1996 film That Thing That You Do. As the bass player of Fountains of Wayne, Schlesinger co-wrote the hit 2003 song "Stacey's Mom," which peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has since embedded itself in the history of pop-rock as an irreverent cult favorite that soundtracked the early aughts.

Schlesinger is survived by his two children. If any misguided individuals still question the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, hopefully the music industry's great loss will illustrate its stark reality.

Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's


Exclusive Interview: COIN Talks New Video for "Crash My Car"

We spoke to COIN's lead singer Chase Lawrence about his band's brilliant new single and life in quarantine.

COIN - Crash My Car


COIN just released their new video for "Crash My Car," an electrifying track that feels designed to fill stadiums. It's a love letter to music, to fans, and to all the bonds that unite them.

Of course, it's been released in the time of self-isolation, when stadiums are closed and musicians have been relegated to their homes. We were supposed to interview the band and premier the video live at our Popdust office, but due to the current circumstances, the conversation took a very different path. From our respective homes, we spoke to lead vocalist and synth player, Chase Lawrence, about being present, about creating music during disaster, and of course, about the stars of the new music video: the fans.

The "Crash My Car" video is a tribute to COIN's dedicated fans. It stars some of their top Nashville-based supporters, each as much a part of the performance as any of the band's actual members. In a way, the video feels like a shoutout to all music fans, a reminder that the euphoria we feel in the audience is also being felt by performers, a reminder that in the end, music is a celebration of connection. It's a love letter to art in general, a reminder that no matter how irrational creation may seem, sometimes you just have to let go and let your heart take the reins.

Watch the video below, and read on to discover the story behind the music.

COIN - Crash My Car [Sound & Mind Sessions]

POPDUST: How are you?

CHASE LAWRENCE: I mean, as good as any of us can be in this situation, I guess!

Are you at home?

I'm at my parents' house in West Virginia. We were on tour, but we reached a point where we started thinking it was irresponsible to keep gathering people.

So we just paused. Now I'm hanging out with my parents and sister and niece and nephew, and it's great. I'm making the most of it. It's weird times, but happy days.

Can you tell me a little bit about your new music video for "Crash My Car"? It's so euphoric—like a little energy burst, a nice change in the midst of a lot of staying at home. What was the inspiration, and how was making it with the fans?

There's this symbiotic relationship between the fans and the music we make. We feel like the music is just as much theirs as it is ours. Without them, it would be this indulgent journal, but the fans take it and they give it a whole new meaning.

We were wondering how to best represent these people's voices, and we thought, why not actually represent them? So we sent an email out to a hundred people in Nashville. We asked them all to wear a monochromatic color, and they all showed up. I knew a lot of them because they've been to so many shows over the years, and we've developed such close relationships and friendships with these people who come to so many shows and wait outside the venues.

There's nothing like the relationship between the music fan and the bands they love.

Again, it's symbiotic. It was so cool to hear their voices so clearly, equally loud or louder than ours.

"Crash My Car" is such an earworm of a song, and it sounds so electric, like it must've been fun to make. What's it like when you guys are writing and making your music?

It keeps changing. Every time we think we have the process down, we realize we could improve. It's so spontaneous. There's this tightrope of figuring out what's too candid and too perfect and of finding this balance between passion and perfection.

For "Crash My Car," we were playing a festival in Atlanta, and we'd just come off a weird trip to LA. There were these crazy fires, and the clouds were literally dark, and it was a really sad, dark week. A lot was canceled because of the fires, and everyone was affected by the weather more than we'd admit. We were in between albums, and we were wondering—do we even want to do this anymore? Is this what we're meant to do? We had a good run, but maybe we should just quit… There was so much uncertainty. So we decided to just take things one day at a time.

That night we played this show in front of 15,000 people, and the crowd was singing back every word. It was the most surreal experience, seeing everything we've worked for come to fruition in a 45-minute window. We came off the stage electrified, and the next morning we went into the studio and decided to write something louder than anything we'd written before. That song came out in just a few hours. It was a combination of extreme uncertainty and pseudo-sadness combined with this euphoria, and we got this silver lining of a song.

That seems relevant now. I feel like music can sometimes remind you what's really important even if you're doubting it.

When we pressed pause on this tour and came home, I was like, what am I going to do? I'm not just going to go live on the Internet and just post things. So I just buckled down and started writing.

We've fully written, collectively and collaboratively, another album's worth of songs. I think the darkest times produce the most honest songs.

Has being home changed what you've been writing about?

I feel like these songs, sonically, are more R&B-sounding. There's some hip-hop and some gospel and sample-infused things. Maybe I'm nostalgically connecting to who I was in high school. I grew up in churchland, so I think that's why I've been thinking about gospel; I feel like I'm reopening this envelope that's been closed for years. I don't know, but I want to explore every angle.

I'm excited to see what comes out of it.

Honestly, me too. I'm just as uncertain as you are.

Lack of certainty seems like a theme of this era. So your last album was Dreamland, and I'm curious about the title. What inspired it?

I had come home, where I am now, after being gone for a very long time. My cousin was married, my sister moved, and I couldn't believe that my friend had a baby… and all these life changes happened. I'd been removed from the conversations about this whole sequence of events, and someone said, "You must be living in dreamland!" The next week I was flying somewhere, and this woman was reading a pamphlet called "Dreamland." I started wondering—what does this word mean to me?

I realized I've spent so much time over the past few years—and I think we're all guilty of this—almost... living above myself, trying to figure out the best way to tell the story. I was hovering above where I was, trying to strategize how to tell people where I am.

The idea of being present became very important to me, because I realized I'd been looking up, trying to figure out what the next move was without realizing that there was a beautiful view all around me.

So when I made the album, Dreamland, I was trying to be more present.

How's that working out?

In this time specifically, there's never been a better time to practice being present, because there's really nowhere else to go. I guess some people could choose escapism, but reality is facing us harder than ever. There's less and less to do for many people, so now's the time to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, and maybe staring at a tree... It sounds stupid, but I've learned so much just looking around and seeing the intricacy and the beauty in the normal things and all around. Even washing a dish can be so satisfying, if you make it purposeful and meaningful.

Right now, we're just sitting, and that's enough. You don't have to be sitting and thinking about what you're gonna watch later or what you did yesterday. You're just sitting. And that's enough for me.

Sounds so different from the rockstar life you must've been wrapped up in, jet-setting from one place to the other.

I'm kind of privileged to even have the opportunity to do this; some people have to really think about what they're going to do and what their next steps are going to be. But right now, regret isn't really possible, because the past is gone and worrying about the future—well, there's never been a better time to practice being present, because nothing has ever been more out of our control.

How's the rest of the band faring?

The band's great. Ryan the drummer lives in LA, but he came home from tour and was like, why would I stay in Los Angeles where I just have friends, no family? He packed up his car and went back to Cleveland to his parents. It's a crazy time to be away from family.

Joe lives in New York, so flying home wasn't really an option. He decided to stay put in Nashville, and it just happened that his girlfriend was there, so they're doing great. We're writing a ton together by proxy, sending voice memos back and forth, focusing on making a deluxe version of Dreamland and putting out as much new music as possible. We're taking advantage of this time, these hard times and happy days, taking it one step at a time.

COIN - Into My Arms (Official Video)

How did you all meet?

I met Joe, the guitarist, on the first day of college in Nashville. I sat down, and he was right beside me. After two weeks of classes, I hadn't said a word to him, and I have no idea why, but I asked him if he wanted to write a song together. He came to my dorm room, and we wrote one dumb song and it didn't really work out, but as he was walking out the door I showed him a song I was working on and he helped me tweak it. We kept meeting over and over, and then he was like, I know this drummer, Ryan. It was just kismet. For us, the stars literally aligned. None of us were trying to start a band, but this is what we're doing all these years later. Things like that make you realize there's a purpose in whatever we're doing.

Anything else you want to add?

We're just making a lot of music and we're excited to share it, that's all.

Like I said, I hope that people can let go, because there's truly nowhere else you can be than right here.

Follow COIN on Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

New Releases

Half Waif's "In August" Is an Ode to Friendship Breakups

The new single from Nandi Rose deals with guilt from an ending friendship.

Half Waif - "In August" (Lyric Video)

It's been argued time and time again that friendship breakups can sting worse than romantic ones.

Even if neither party is to blame, a fizzled companionship can lend itself to mournful guilt. It's these feelings of remorse that drive "In August," the latest single from Half Waif's Nandi Rose. According to the singer/songwriter, the pensive song "tracks the dissolution of a friendship over the course of a year, throughout every season." As she explains in a statement, "There's a particular kind of sadness to a friendship ending when there's no one to blame, just as there's something mournful about the inevitable change of weather. Sometimes it's not a big fight but a gradual growing apart that marks the end—how do we make sense of our role in that? This song is an attempt to recognize and accept mutual culpability in an effort to move on."

"In August" begins with a funereal piano introduction that soon gives way to Half Waif's unique brand of layered, shadowy synth-pop. Looming and somber, the track finds Rose contemplative on both sides of the friendship's end. "I wonder how you've been / Oh, I have lost your friendship / What does that say about me?" she sings. Later: "You've broken your promise / What does that say about you?"

"In August" is neither self-destructive or accusatory, instead weighing the mutual faults between herself and her subject. "If I can own / Up to what I've done / Then I'll get it together / Will you follow?" go the song's final lines, as the instrumentals fade out as seamlessly as a missed connection.

Listen below.

Half Waif - "In August" (Lyric Video)

Atlantic Records

Ava Max, the powerhouse behind "Sweet but Psycho," is continuing her reign as "PRINCESS OF POP."

In 2018, that debut single took the world by storm, topping the charts in 26 different countries and breaking through the Billboard top 10. Her latest empowering anthem, "Kings & Queens" aims to do the same and serves as a promising teaser from her highly anticipated debut album, expected to drop later this year. “I wanted the fans to listen to the album and really get to know me because it's my debut album," Max told Popdust. “And I also wanted to connect with them on that level."

Download or stream "Kings & Queens"HERE:

POPDUST: Super excited to talk to you today! I consider myself a big fan and was ecstatic when we were contacted about the new song!

AVA: Oh my God, thank you. I'm just so excited for all the music coming out and for having "Kings & Queens" come out. It feels like a dream. Finally, it's coming out.

Tell us a bit about how "Kings & Queens" came to be.

Every song that I've put out, they all have very different vibes. The version you're hearing of the song is after like 10 different versions that we tried–different melodies and production. This one felt very empowering and strong with the lyrics. It's really about not caring and doing you. It's actually a similar message to "So Am I," but it's more just about queens and that we should rule because, in fact, the world would be better if queens ruled it.

I'm totally in love with the guitar solo and the choice to include it. Though I'm biased because I'm a guitarist.

Oh, nice! You should come play on the tour [laughs].


I really wanted some real elements. I released a lot of pop electronic music, and I feel like I wanted some real guitar elements in there. It's funny, I don't play guitar, but after hearing the song and having it for 6 months, I was like, "You know what? I'mma learn electric guitar."

That would be sick if you pulled that out on stage.

I'm not even kidding you. I am about to take lessons can I not learn electric guitar?

I was going to say, I'm totally available for lessons if you want…

Or, I can just bring you on tour!

Absolutely! That would be a dream [pretends not to be a fanboy]...Changing topics, do you have music video plans for this song?

I actually do...You know, I can't say much about it. All I can say is that…it's going to have a lot of dancing in it.

Speaking of things that you probably can't talk too much about, this song is going to be on your debut album. What can you tell us about that? Is there a title yet?

There is, and I've had this title for a year now, and I definitely can't tell you what it is. But I can tell you that if you look at my hair, you can kind of understand what the album is going to be. It's a little bit of this and that. The whole album is kind of based on, like, "I can have my cake and eat it, too." Where there's lightness and light, there's also darkness.

"Kings & Queens" is another collaboration with the producer Cirkut, who is credited on many of your songs. Can we expect more collaboration with him on your album?

Oh, yeah. I mean he produced the entire album. He is executive producer of the whole thing.

Can we expect any exciting features on the album?

There actually are no features. And the reason why I did that is because I do features all year round, and I love features. I think for me, personally, I wanted the fans to listen to the album and really get to know me because it's my debut album. And I also wanted to connect with them on that level.

Speaking of connecting with fans, what is the best or most shocking thing you've ever received from a fan?

Oh, this is a tough. I got a lot over the past year. The most shocking thing… you know what? A fan, it felt like we were so connected. This was actually when I was in Singapore. This guy gave me a shirt that was cut in half, and–I'm not even kidding you–for my merch that was exactly what I wanted to do. I was like, "I think you read my mind." We were so connected in that moment, and it felt crazy. I just thought that was really cool, to connect with a fan and that he made his merch that I had thought about, too.

Awesome! I asked people on Instagram to send me questions they would like to ask you. If it's cool with you, I'd love to run through some of those.

Absolutely, let's do it!

Great, so this one comes from @sophie_pia_, who asks, "Would you rather be able to fly or breathe underwater?"

Oh my God. That's a tough one. I'd say fly.

I'm with you on that one. @loveavamax, one of the fan accounts, asks, "Have you ever sung at a major sporting event?"

Um, yeah, actually I have. Tennis.

Fair enough. @Avamaxbr says, "If you could describe your debut album in one word, what would it be?"

Oh man, one word? Can I do one sentence? Best of both worlds.

Is that the title? You're not allowed to tell me, right?

[Laughs] No, it's not. It's not the title!

So @Avamaxbr wrote in again and asked, "Any plans to come to Brazil?"

It is on my to do list. I really want to go. It's one of the places I dream of going. So, yeah.

Okay, @iamcoyoteeyes wrote in - she's actually a fellow singer/songwriter - and she asked about your vocal technique.

I run almost every day, even if it's like five minutes. I run just to get my blood flowing. And I stretch my mouth and my neck. It really helps actually, stretching your mouth and your neck, as goofy as that sounds.

I'm with it. @Aliceellagram - another fellow singer/songwriter - asks, "How to feel inspired on the bad days?"

Oh my gosh, we got bad days. Um, I think about my family and how much I love them and how I want to just retire every one of them. And, yeah, I keep going.

So, a lot of people just sent the "fire emoji" as their question.

Oh, fire back to those people!

Will do. A couple of my friends in LA just DMed me with some questions. Are you in LA right now?

I am!

Okay, so Grace sent: "Ask her why it's taking me over 90 minutes to drive from Echo Park to Santa Monica. Isn't everyone supposed to be working from home?" Can you comment on that?

Oh my gosh, I know, I agree with her.

Rory sent in: "Ask her about where she gets the ideas for her makeup. She does interesting stuff with her eyeshadow."

So, I like to do things I've never seen before. I kind of really push myself to think about something I've never seen before...even if it's just a line on my cheek. It's funny, my makeup artist will be like, "What are you doing? Like, this doesn't look okay." And I'm just like, "I like it, let's start a new trend." So I'm always up for starting new trends.

Very Bowie-esque. That reminds me! Who are some of your biggest influences, both for yourself as an artist and particularly for this album?

I grew up listening to Mariah Carey and a lot of pop divas like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears and Beyoncé. So you know, I feel like I got a little bit of each of them into my music and my voice, even. 'Cause I sang so much Mariah Carey in my basement when I was younger that I feel like sometimes when I sing, "Alright, snap out of it. You are not Mariah Carey." Even in my pop music you can kind of hear the soul, because I sang her a lot. And a lot of Whitney, a lot of Christina. I love to growl. So yeah, the pop divas, for sure.

Awesome. Finally, do you have tour plans set up? I mean, I need to know because I guess I'm going on it, so…

Okay, well I'll just tell you soon. In a few months, definitely.

Cool, just DM me the details or whatever. Anyway, thank you so much for your time today. Congrats on "Kings & Queens" and we can't wait for the album!

Thank you so much!


Come For Me

Remember Slenderman, that nightmarish creature who originated on Creepypasta and then appeared between the trees every time you walked by the woods (and inspired a real murder)?

Now he's reappeared—in song. Nashville-based artist Notelle has released "Come For Me," a dark, witchy pop tune inspired by Slenderman and his lingering presence.

"I have always found the concept of 'shadows' fascinating, as they're quite literally a dark sided piece of you that is intangible, yet always present," Notelle said. "It reminded me a lot of the remnants of an old love. They're there still, but not really…it's a frightening concept. It's widely accepted, at this point, that all living things are made up of energy - and I've been reading more and more recently about how even after a living thing has left a space, it is possible that their residual energy can linger. You can feel it, even when you'd give anything to erase it. That's what this song is about…that shadow that haunts you, that memory that overstays its welcome, that person whose presence it's still there long after they're gone."

In terms of all living things being made up of energy, Notelle might be referring to the idea that everything in life is a vibration, a concept originally posited by Albert Einstein. That idea is also an important tenet of quantum physics, which proposes that everything is vibrating at a certain frequency, though we're all still part of the same ocean of sound. By this logic, when someone disappears, the vibrations they cast into our universe can continue to echo on and on.

A song about Slenderman probably isn't picking up the best vibrations, but "Come For Me" manages to sound beautiful anyway, despite the dark energy that seems to have inspired it. It draws inspiration from Billie Eilish's subterranean basslines and threadbare vocals, mixed with the industrial grittiness of Nine Inch Nails. Though sonically it grows frenzied, Notelle's voice stays hypnotic and soft, whispering like howling wind on a Halloween night. Altogether, it sounds like it could soundtrack a murder scene that takes place underneath a club or the climax of a Slenderman-themed movie when the star realizes that Slenderman was only in her head, but there's blood on her hands.

As an independent artist, Notelle's work as a featured vocalist on other artists' tracks has earned a combined 11 million streams on Spotify, but now she's launched a solo career of her own, leaving the hyperactive electricity of her EDM collaborations for frayed, haunted pop.

New Releases

BTS' "Black Swan" Is the Song that Keeps On Giving

The new "Black Swan" music video is incredible.

BTS (방탄소년단) 'Black Swan' Official MV

It's no secret that "Black Swan"—not to mention BTS' entire new album, Map of the Soul: 7—is a genuine masterpiece.

Up until today, most people assumed that the "Black Swan" Art Film performed by MN Dance Company, wherein the professional dance troupe performs a bleak, gripping, interpretive dance to the song in an abandoned mall, served as the song's only official music video. While it didn't feature the BTS boys themselves, it did a wonderful job conveying the conflicted emotion of "Black Swan" through dance.

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