100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #75: “Out of My League” by Fitz and the Tantrums

The song at #75 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Out of My League” by Los Angeles-based pop/neo soul band Fitz and the Tantrums. Although they’d been making music since 2008, I was not familiar with them until my musical awakening in late summer 2013. One day I discovered the Billboard Alternative Rock chart, and it was a revelation! I saw songs by lots of artists I’d either never heard of, or who I knew about but wasn’t aware they had new music out. One of the songs riding high on the chart at that time was “Out of My League”, and I instantly fell in love with it’s exuberant piano and bass-driven synth pop grooves. The song is so damned electrifying and catchy, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I became a huge Fitz and the Tantrums fan, and bought their CD More Than Just a Dream, which also features their terrific follow-up single “The Walker”. I loved that CD so much I played it nearly to death over the next six months.

Fitz and the Tantrums are headed by front man and lead vocalist Michael Fitzgerald, and includes the lovely Noelle Skaggs on co-lead vocals, James King on sax and flute, Joseph Karnes on bass, Jeremy Ruzumna on keyboards and John Wicks on drums and percussion. A unique aspect of their music is that they have no designated guitarist, but they more than make up for it with a strong rhythm section and generous use of King’s sax (though it’s not prominent on “Out of My League”). Sadly, their two follow up albums have been rather disappointing to me, as well as many of their early fans and music critics. They seem to have abandoned their earlier soulful, groove-based sound in favor of a more pop-oriented style that just sounds generic and predictable. Also, their newer stuff hasn’t utilized Noelle Scaggs’ great vocals nearly enough. I still like them though.

I saw Fitz and the Tantrums in concert in a double bill with Young the Giant (two of whose songs have already been featured on this list) at the Los Angeles Forum in August 2019. They put on a fantastic show.

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