Middle Class Fashion Featured on WBEZ Chicago's This American Life (Update: This American Life's Music Supervisor Responds To Our Questions)

Middle Class Fashion Featured on WBEZ Chicago's This American Life (Update: This American Life's Music Supervisor Responds To Our Questions)
Bryan Sutter

Congratulations to local favorites Middle Class Fashion, whose "Stuck" found its way into this week's episode of the prestigious radio program This American Life. "Stuck" appears at the very end of episode #516, appropriately enough titled "Stuck In The Middle."

Reached for comment via email, MCF singer/pianist Jenn Malzone denied any advance planning or notice. "My first knowledge of 'Stuck' being used on This American Life came from people posting to our Facebook page," she wrote. "I logged on to see a few messages from friends saying they'd heard us on NPR that afternoon. Completely surprised, I scrambled to This American Life's web site to verify that this was true. Man, what a great surprise. I've been a fan for years. It's so flattering that they chose to include a Middle Class Fashion song in this week's episode."

Also soundtracking the episode: an old song by the Four Freshman, recent tracks by buzz band Waxahatchee and Seattle trio the Wimps. Apparently the Wimps were similarly taken aback by hearing themselves on the show. "So we have a song on the new This American Life? We are surprised as you are! Hello Ira!" they wrote on their own Facebook page.

Curious about the music selection process, we tried to contact This American Life for comment via its website. An e-mail to its press contact remained unanswered as of press time, and we were unable to track down either of the people credited with music assistance.

Meanwhile, MCF continues on its upward trajectory. The band next appears at the Halo Bar on February 5, directly following Neutral Milk Hotel's long-sold-out Pageant show. According to Malzone, MCF is also preparing its next release, an EP, as well as a national tour to support it.

Update: This American Life's Damien Graef - one of the show's two primary music supervisors - responded by email on Monday afternoon with a little more detail about how he chooses the background music, and how he knew of Middle Class Fashion in particular.

"My partner and I chose the songs for this week's episode," Graef confirmed. "We usually receive a breakdown of what will be on the show each week. From there we start scouring iTunes with different keyword searches to find something that works for the mood of the each piece. We then put together a few options for each segment, and the producer of the show makes the final selections. In this case, we just liked the song and thought it fit. Neither of us knew about the band before we came across the song."

In other words, while we'd like to believe that the public radio community in Chicago and New York has secretly been following the St. Louis music scene, it was really a combination of luck and opportunity. Still, kudos both to Middle Class Fashion for the nationwide exposure, and to This American Life for having the good taste to choose "Stuck."

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