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In Defense of The Moldy Peaches: The Art of “Bad” Music

Some musical artists create work that is so sonically creative, well-produced, and thematically poignant, their discographies deserve to be exhibited at the Louvre. The Moldy Peaches are not one of these artists. With unpolished production and a silly approach to lyricism, their work is less of a masterpiece and more of a child’s arts-and-crafts project: an unassuming scribble you look at and say “Awww, it’s cute that they tried,” before gingerly placing it on the refrigerator door. All things considered, this band – and I say the following with the utmost respect – makes bad music. Yet somehow, it works for them, and is exactly what makes The Moldy Peaches so good. 

The Moldy Peaches frontmen, Kimya Dawson and Adam Green, released their first and only album in 2001: a self-titled, DIY-style assortment of nineteen songs. Aside from a smattering of live performances and a few unreleased snippets, their 2001 project is all the band has ever released. The Moldy Peaches was primarily recorded in a basement, giving it a gritty, horribly low-quality sound. The lyrics are juvenile (“All I wanna do is ride bikes with you / And stay up late and watch cartoons”) and often crass (“Squinched-up your face and did a dance / You shook a little turd out of the bottom of your pants”). The rhyme schemes are of the same complexity found in a kindergartener’s poem (“I wake up in the morning / Put on my yellow shirt / I get a bite to eat / I go to work”). Even the vocals are scratchy, bored, and completely unrefined. With song titles ranging from innocent (“Little Bunny Foo Foo”) to obscene (“Who’s Got the Crack”), this album exists as a vessel for both infantile simplicity and raunchy mayhem. 

If The Moldy Peaches were an arts-and-crafts project, it’d be a collage congested with loose glitter, obscene magazine cut-outs, Hello Kitty stickers, every size and color of pom-pom, and careless scrawls of crayon. However, the immature lyrics and messy production makes it feel down-to-earth and genuine, like Dawson and Green are singing directly to their audience. This album exists as a reminder that music, alongside everything else in our lives, does not have to be perfect to be worthy of enjoyment. Not every piece of media we consume has to be highbrow and thought-provoking to be worthy of indulgence. Listening to The Moldy Peaches is comforting, because they don’t ask anything of the listener. Their music simply exists to be infectiously fun and, admittedly, a little weird at times. It makes us feel less alone, bringing back positive memories of when things didn’t have to be flawless and complicated all the time. 

It’s crucial to note that the success of the 2007 cult classic Juno is what truly brought The Moldy Peaches to the public eye. The soundtrack not only features a variety of Dawson’s solo work, but most notably The Moldy Peaches’ iconic duet, “Anyone Else But You.” Much like The Moldy Peaches themselves, this coming-of-age film is praised for its heartfelt, quirky, and lovably unrefined depiction of young adulthood. Dawson and Green’s music encapsulates the feeling of being in your late teens and early twenties: a weird transitional period where you don’t quite feel like a child, but you certainly don’t feel like an adult. In this way, The Moldy Peaches and Juno were truly a match made in heaven.

“Anyone Else But You” is a warm-and-fuzzy love song with simple lyrics and a repetitive structure: on the surface, it’s nothing special. Yet, somehow, it perfectly describes the butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling of falling in love. Naturally, the crowd of teens and twenty-somethings who made up Juno’s fanbase were enamored by it. In an era of hypersexualized, overproduced pop music, audiences loved how sweet and raw “Anyone Else But You” felt in comparison. Listening to it independent of the film became a way for teens to feel like they were in a coming of age movie themselves. 

The Moldy Peaches managed to beat the odds by becoming indie music icons,  despite their amature sound. They make music for underdogs and outcasts (“So if you are a kid and no one will play with you / Stick it out, stay tough, and you’ll turn out super-cool!”) and do so with a sincere, strange wit. Beautifully silly and infectiously fun–– much like a child’s arts-and-crafts project –– The Moldy Peaches are everything that’s wonderfully good about horribly bad music. 

Bella Trucco is currently the Senior Editor of HC TCNJ. Bella is a junior majoring in Communication Studies with minors in Psychology & Marketing. She has always been a big fan of pop culture, social justice, and the oxford comma.
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