Even though it takes place during the school year, I view Stuck in the Suburbs as a summer DCOM. In fact, I’m pretty sure I bought the soundtrack during the summer of 2004, probably not long after the movie’s July 16 release date. I had just finished fourth grade and looked forward to just about every DCOM Disney Channel advertised. I liked the sports and adventure stories but was also attracted to anything with glitter or music (or both). You can imagine that Stuck in the Suburbs was pretty perfect for me. I wasn’t familiar with Taran Killam in those days, so he truly became Jordan Cahill to me as a kid. Danielle Panabaker and Brenda Song make one of the best DCOM duos, in my opinion. For more on the movie, listen to the “That’s So Matthew” podcast. I loved talking about Stuck in the Suburbs with Matthew and Bob–so much that I decided to reflect a little more on the soundtrack.
Jordan Cahill Songs
Let’s start with the music of fictional pop star extraordinaire, Jordan Cahill. We’ve got “More Than Me” (two versions), “Make a Wish,” and “On Top of the World.” All three are aspirational, but great fictional pop star fare. The first (pop) version of “More Than Me” isn’t right for Jordan, so we get the stripped-down acoustic version at the end. Save Ashbrook House! The main thing I think of with “More Than Me” is the music video shoot early in the film with all the screaming suburban fans. It looks like Jordan Cahill has everything he wants, but his true self is being stifled. Anyway, the tune is catchy and makes a great ringtone for Brittany Aarons.
“Make a Wish” is a “take a chance”-“have faith in you”-“we can do anything when we try” kind of song. (Those were actual lyrics.) It might sound a little corny, but I felt really empowered hearing this type of song as a kid, and I hope other people felt the same way. I love the part where the big instrumentals drop out of a chorus near the end.
“On Top of the World” is great for when you need yet another confidence boost. Who doesn’t want to think that they’re a star, really? Forget that old motivational speaker tape and pop this soundtrack in to hear “the crowd scream [your] name.” But don’t ask me for too many more quotes; I don’t have this one memorized.
Other Songs About Life
After you let Jordan Cahill’s songs pump you up, check out the rest of the album. These songs really are about life…and about being stuck. Observe: “Good Life”-Jesse McCartney, “A Whatever Life”-Haylie Duff, “Stuck in the Middle With You”-Stealers Wheel, “Stuck”-Stacie Orrico. And we can’t forget the song of 2004, “Over It,” sung by Anneliese van der Pol. Those are the salient ones, and they make a well-rounded set list. Jesse McCartney says, “It’s the good life, so why y’all trippin?” I guess it really is the good life if you’re a pop star! The guitar part is really groovy in that song. Haylie Duff’s “A Whatever Life” is the ultimate sad girl song, which we truly need in order to properly reflect on the friendship between Brittany and Natasha. My husband said the song reminds him a bit of those “Live, Laugh, Love” signs, but I still dig it. “
“Stuck in the Middle With You” is a pretty well-known song that’s been prominent in pop culture since it’s 1972 release. I have to say, though, I’m partial to the other “Stuck” song, by Stacie Orrico. Her 2003 self-titled album was on repeat in my bedroom for awhile. My favorite lines are, “Every now and then, when I’m all alone, I be wishin’ you would call me on the telephone.” If that’s not your jam, you probably liked “(There’s Gotta Be) More to Life” back in the day.
Now, let’s discuss “Over It.” Do you remember the music video? It was so compelling to watch Anneliese van der Pol sing this song. She nailed it and brought such emotion to the lyrics. “Take me away, jump in the car, drive till the gas runs out and walk so far that we can’t see this place anymore.” Or the opener: “How could you know, that behind my eyes a sad girl cries?” It still gets me.
I loved discussing this movie with my friends on Matthew’s podcast in May. Stuck in the Suburbs shows how a suburban teen girl and a successful pop star can actually have similar feelings. We can all feel trapped in mundanity or be a couple steps short of the lives we want. I think the music does a great job of bringing out those themes. Perhaps together, we can “be so much more than me,” after all.