Cake, sweeter than the treat

Uncovering a hidden gem in the music industry

The cover to the bands second studio album, Fashion Nugget. There are 14 songs, with each track creating energetic funk beats.

The cover to the band’s second studio album, Fashion Nugget. There are 14 songs, with each track creating energetic funk beats.

Clare McCoy, Reporter

Cake: while many associate the word with a sweet treat typically received on their birthdays or special occasions, it has a much different meaning to those familiar with the talented band. While I dislike the dessert, the band leaves a sweeter taste in my mouth. Cake is an indie rock group that was made famous in the ‘90s by their album Fashion Nugget. The members include singer John McCrea, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, guitarist Xan McCurdy, bassist Daniel McCallum, and drummer Todd Roper. Surprisingly, their name has nothing to do with the food. Rather, it refers to the action of something being caked on – something that sticks to you and is hard to get rid of after building up over time.

Their irrelevance to the adolescent population is curious because of the large mass of monthly Spotify listeners, reaching nearly three million last month. One would think that the vast amount of listeners would prove their popularity with young people, but asking any teenager will prove that the majority haven’t heard of them. Often, my friends will have no idea who I’m talking about, while their parents know them well.

Cake has narrowly avoided being discovered by TikTok users; while it would be nice for them to be discovered on TikTok or another social media platform, there’s something uniquely special about having a niche band all to yourself.. Due to the group’s underground nature, it allows for opportunities to share an artist that many of my peers don’t know about – and feel special and different because of it.

Popularity of Cake first grew due to their interesting bass lines and general monotone singing, but what stands out is Cake’s overarching use of metaphors, genius songwriting, and of course, their incredible trumpet melodies. In most songs, they follow a storyline that is typically about love and special parts of life and the little details that go unnoticed in everyday routines. 

Their song ‘Short Skirt/Long Jacket’ is truly special because of the pure nature of it; it describes all of the specific things that make up the girl of his dreams, and it has such an interesting and wholesome concept with every detail painting her as smart and capable (as well as being fashionable). The lyrics shine because it’s so rare to hear people talk about strong, interesting, and intelligent girls in songs –  to hear them value her beyond her looks or the love that she gives him. ‘Never There’ follows his relationship with a girl that tells him she loves him, yet does not return his affection – a girl that he can’t get to be there for him. Musically, ‘Never There’ is their best song, with an extremely interesting bass and drum combo, not to mention the entirely unique trumpet melody.

Their most popular song, ‘The Distance’, has one of the more interesting concepts. On the surface level, it’s about a race car driver, but any amount of attention to the lyrics will open a world of metaphors. There have been many interpretations of these figures, which shows the true versatility of the songwriting. Some believe it’s about a man who died on the track before the race started, but others see it as a man who is pursuing his goals to the extreme. Another aspect of the song is mentioning a girl often, saying “she’s all alone in her time of need”. This ambiguous narration is captivating because it shows many sides of the same story. Personally, I believe that it’s about a man who has poured so much into his goals that he has abandoned the love of his life during the pursuit; while she tries to make herself known to him he is blinded by his own ambition. The beauty of their writing style is that you’re able to connect to it in so many ways.

 It’s a near impossible task to describe the impact Cake has had on music for many. They romanticize the little things in life, inspiring all who listen to their music to connect with people differently. Between their trumpet features, John McCrea’s iconic singing voice, and their incredibly talented drummer and bassist, they are remarkably unique, and their sound will forever be unmatched.