Fall Out Boy released a new song today called “Centuries” to start the rollout for their followup to last year’s Save Rock And Roll. It’s not very good, and that’s coming from someone who stuck with the band through Infinity On High, but the aging arena pop-punk band does sample Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” on their new single, which has a long and storied history as being labeled “the mother of the MP3” due to its importance in the creation of the widely used file format.
In a 2007 Business Week profile of Karlheinz Brandenburg, who is often cited as the inventor of the MP3, he said that he used the a capella version of Vega’s song to nail down the compression algorithm behind the technology. “When MP3 developers refined the technology to the point where ‘Tom’s Diner’ sounded true to the original, they had made a major breakthrough,” the article said. Fall Out Boy naming their song “Centuries” and co-opting a timeless song is maybe a comment on the cyclical nature of music and sampling’s ability to recontextualize a song, or maybe it’s just a lazy excuse to not write a melodic hook.
Here’s the Vega song which was, of course, named after Morningside Heights staple Tom’s Restaurant, which is a tourist attraction after its exterior was famously used as a stand-in for Seinfeld’s Monk’s Café.
And the new Fall Out Boy song: