Late Wednesday evening, social media mourned the death of singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger, who died of complications caused by the novel coronavirus. He was 52.
In addition to his music with the band Fountains of Wayne and the musical TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Schlesinger wrote the title music for Tom Hanks' 1996 movie That Thing You Do. A rags-to-riches movie about a fictional 1950s rock band's rise and fall, the film truly makes you believe The Oneders were the real deal.
And it's all because Schlesinger's "That Thing You Do." A legitimate, radio-friendly banger that never gets old, the song sounds like peeking into another universe where The Oneders weren't just real, but the biggest rock band in the world.
That Thing You Do! is available for purchase or rent on virtually all platforms, including Vudu, Amazon Prime, and iTunes, That Thing You Do! is streaming on Hulu and Amazon, but there's a catch.
That Thing You Do! is currently tied up with Cinemax, the premium cable channel owned by HBO, which in turn is owned by WarnerMedia. Because of the movie's exclusivity to Cinemax, you can only stream That Thing You Do! on Cinemax's streaming service, MAX GO if you have a cable subscription with Cinemax.
If you do, great, you can watch and sing along to The Oneders right now. If you don't, you'll have to add Cinemax to your cable bundle, if you even have one.
There is another way, however. Both Hulu and Amazon can stream Cinemax content for an additional $9.99 on top of your existing Hulu and Amazon subscriptions. This includes Cinemax's library of movies, like That Thing You Do! as well as Cinemax's original programming, which is honestly worth checking out. (There's also a cool show called Warrior that's worth binging in quarantine.) Unfortunately, there's no way to watch this movie on Netflix.
The death of Schlesinger from the coronavirus is a harsh reminder that no one is immune from the coronavirus. Schlesinger was never a superstar on his own, but the respect and admiration expressed by his peers after his death paint him as a rare breed of humble legend. Thankfully, the work lives on.
On April 1, Schlesinger died of complications caused by the coronavirus. Reports on March 30 confirmed the musician had been on a ventilator for two weeks before being put into a medically-induced coma. He died shortly after, and was mourned by critics, musicians, and other admirers on social media.
"I have so much to say about Adam Schlesinger that I am at a complete loss for words," expressed actress and television producer Rachel Bloom, who worked closely with Schlesinger on The CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. "He is irreplaceable."
Said writer Dan Gregor on Twitter, "So many of the most wonderful memories of the last few years were with Adam. This isn’t fair."
Actor Jon Bernthal, best known for his roles on The Walking Dead and the Marvel/Netflix series The Punisher, was Schlesinger's cousin, and tweeted about Schlesinger before his death. "As a little boy I would be mesmerized by his talent. He showed me how cool it was to be an artist," Bernthal wrote. "We love you Cuz. Stay strong."
In addition to his body of work for the bands Fountains of Wayne, who released the karaoke favorite "Stacy's Mom" in 2003, Schlesinger regularly wrote original songs for TV and movies. One of his most popular pieces was the track "That Thing You Do!" for the fictional band The Oneders in the 1996 movie That Thing You Do.
The directorial debut of actor Tom Hanks, the movie starred an ensemble that included Tom Everett Scott, Jonathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Liv Tyler, Ethan Embry, Charlize Theron, and Giovanni Ribisi. Director Paul Feig also had a minor role as a disc jockey.
After Schlesinger's death, critics pointed out the merits of "That Thing You Do!" and its role on the cult movie's strength. In short, the song is affectionate mimicry; it not only captures the spirit and sound of 1950s pop, but does it better than anyone from the era ever did.
"[N]obody had better skill than Schlesinger at writing to a narrative need." tweeted NPR's Linda Holmes. "If the song That Thing You Do! isn't perfectly written, there's no movie."
Tweeted The Tonight Show writer Rachel Wenitsky, "I think about That Thing You Do constantly and what an insane, Herculean task it must have been to write a song that sounded like it could be the most famous song in the world, and how perfect that song is."
Ethan Embry, who played the unnamed bassist in the movie, tweeted his memory hearing Schlesinger's tape of the song. "I remember the day all the Oneders, @LivTyler and @tomhanks sat in a room and played about 6 submitted tracks from different bands for That Thing You Do. When we heard Adam Schlesinger’s cassette it was instantly clear which track we would need to learn."
If you've not had the pleasure of treating yourself to That Thing You Do!, now is a good time.