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In Defense Of: Harvey Danger

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It's hard to say what your artistic legacy will be, because no matter how much you want the work to speak for itself, that's only the first half of the battle. The other half is how it's remembered by everyone else. For bands like Harvey Danger, one of the mainstays of 90s alternative, the unfortunate reality is that they're remembered as the dated, “Not-So-Cool” creators of “Flagpole Sitta.” This isn't necessarily a statement on their actual coolness, which is obviously up to you to decide, but on how “Not-So-Cool” may have coagulated around them and how that doesn't have to be a factual assessment. I imagine that those that call Harvey Danger an “un-cool” band are generally talking about the stigma of one hit wonders, and not their work as a whole. “Flagpole Sitta,” which your friends incorrectly call “Paranoia,” is a lasting hit that still gets radio play today as one of the classic, mocking, raucous alternative hits of the 1990s. If you take a quick look at their Last.FM stats, you'll see evidence of the song's longevity, as well as a huge discrepancy between it and everything else they've ever done. People still love the hit, but few seemed to love it enough to dig deeper. This is important because, as evidenced by their short lived reunion, they are not content to lean back and be remembered for that alone. By 2009, Harvey Danger had taken to the studio to create a new album and grab hold of the reigns for their place in the music culture. If you want to see how well that did, I refer you to those earlier Last.FM statistics. It was a good effort, but today's listeners weren't taken by the album and its modern, mature sound. So, Harvey Danger is now a defunct band. They've played their last show and there are no more albums coming out. Unless there's an unexpected turn in the retrospective criticism of their work, the way they'll be remembered is pretty much settled. But they had the will to redefine their place; they weren't content with a legacy of royalties. That, at least, makes them cool in my book.

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