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Dinosaur Jr.’s Over Your Shoulder is a Hit 25 Years in the Making

Dinosaur JrJake from Manchester, UK CC BY 2.0

American indie icons Dinosaur Jr. never seem to get the credit that they deserve. In fact, when people think of the alt-rock scene in the ’90s, the same names come up: Nirvana, Pixies, and Sonic Youth. Dinosaur Jr. always seem to be the one left out, despite J Mascis, the band’s frontman and lead guitarist, basically shaping the next two decades of music by pioneering shoegaze. This is also despite the validation that they got within the scene — as demonstrated by the Kurt Cobain, who asked Mascis to join Nirvana twice. Indeed, Dinosaur Jr. seems to be constantly left out of the conversation of bands that defined that era.

LivePict.com CC BY-SA 3.0

Fast forward to February 2019, when a Dinosaur Jr. track called “Over Your Shoulder” from their album Without A Sound appears at number 18 on Japan’s Hot 100 chart, beating current pop bops like Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings.” The only issue? The track is 25 years old.

However, what may seem like a random phenomenon actually has a pretty logical explanation. In an article on Gizmodo about the meteoric rise of the 1994 song, they discuss the specific factors and turns of events that lead up to the track’s sudden popularity on the other side of the world.

First is the way Billboard calculates how a song places in their charts. In 2013, Billboard added YouTube plays to the Hot 100 computation formula that is then added to figures from song streams. Now, this is where it gets more interesting. “Over Your Shoulder” was used in a now-defunct Japanese TV show called Gachinko Fight Club from 15 years ago, but it just so happens that pirated clips of the show had been uploaded on YouTube. The swell in views led the YouTube algorithm to place the clips in Japan’s YouTube recommendations. The surge in views for these clips, in turn, then led to a surge in plays of “Over Your Shoulder” — eventually pushing the 1994 track into the charts.

Alexey Komarov CC BY-SA 4.0

These days, things have been pretty tame for the members of Dinosaur Jr. They released an album in 2016 and have more recently organized a 4-day event called Camp Fuzz. This will be hosted by the band along with special guests such as comedian Fred Armisen and Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, just to name a few. Fans of Dinosaur Jr. will be able to attend master classes and will be treated to an intimate look at the inner workings of the band. To get the full Dinosaur Jr. experience, why not take a peek at J Mascis’ rig, which features his ever-dependable Fender Jazzmaster and iconic Electro-Harmonix Ram’s Head? The Ram’s Head or Big Muff Pi has been played by legends such as Hendrix, Santana, and Jack White — putting J Mascis in very good company. Mascis will host a Q&A that will examine how he made use of his Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Fuzz pedal to create the band’s sounds. However, the weekend will be a celebration of independent music overall.

If you’re a fan of indie music, then don’t hesitate to submit artists that we surely cannot miss on our Indie Music 2019 list. We’ll gather all the tracks and put them together in one playlist at the end of the year. Who knows — you might even help us find the next Dinosaur Jr.

5 Comments

  • Dinosaur are massively influential – and were one of the indie rock bands I got into in my mid-teens. It’s great that their music is still being discover and re-discovered by people – and brilliant that they’re still around too!

  • Over Your Shoulder always stood out to me as a classic song. Stoked to see it getting some broader recognition two and a half decades later. Hopefully it’ll lead to new listeners for Dinosaur Jr and the albums that influenced the way my friends and I play and write music still to this day.

  • Just reminds me of the sort of stuff you see in the local small-town music scenes, hidden-gems of talent that fly under the radar.

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