The Case Against “Stronger Than the Storm”

How did this candy-ass earworm become the Hurricane Sandy comeback anthem for the Land of Springsteen?

“It’s in our blood, our DNA/It’s who we are, we’re here to stay!/’Cuz! We’re! Stronger than the storm/Oh, oh, oh!”

If you’ve been anywhere in the Philadelphia region or New Jersey in the past three months, you’ve heard that song, most likely several times per day. It’s been in TV commercials and radio commercials, and every time you’ve heard it, it’s gotten in your head. Chances are, having read the previous paragraph, it’s in your head already. Maybe it was anyway.

It’s “Stronger Than the Storm,” the official theme song of the Jersey Shore’s comeback from Superstorm Sandy. I love the sentiment behind it. I love the slogan. I’m absolutely in awe of the work that’s been done in repairing the beaches, the boardwalks, and even the homes that were so devastated not so long ago. I love the Shore itself.

But I don’t love the song. In fact, it’s kind of terrible.

It’s not just that the song is an earworm, and not in a good way. Its lyrics are simplistic and silly. The hook — filled with “oh”s — gets tiresome very, very quickly. And by the time it’s out of your head — there it is again.

And even worse, the Jersey Shore has long been synonymous with a wide variety of important American musical traditions. The Shore has given us the collected works of Mr. Springsteen, the bar-band tradition, doo-wop, and much of what we now call “oldies,”  among other notable genres. “Stronger Than the Storm” sounds like none of those things. It sounds like something that was room-written, very quickly, by a marketing team — which, of course, it was.

According to this USA Today account, the campaign was put together by a North Jersey-based marketing firm, and the song was written by a songwriter named Brian Jones and recorded by “a band of New Jersey and New York musicians Jones personally assembled.”

I don’t appear to be the only one who feels that way:

There are other complaints against “Stronger Than the Storm.” There are places at the Shore, damaged by Sandy, which have not been rebuilt, and the argument has been made that perhaps the money spent on a ubiquitous, multimedia ad campaign could have been put to better use on actual rebuilding.

Many have complained about Gov. Chris Christie appearing in the spots, although really there’s not a governor in America who doesn’t hijack tourism spots. And then there’s the question of whether an ad campaign is even necessary to bring people to the Shore. Doesn’t the Shore sort of sell itself?

But mostly, I just don’t like the song. It’s a great argument for looking forward to the end of summer.