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Ric Ocasek was never not cool

Blog > Ric Ocasek was never not cool

Written by Jeremy Hallock

Posted September 17, 2019

It is impossible to imagine someone not liking The Cars. We should all be listening to The Cars right now. The new wave rock band was huge in the ’70s and ’80s, but they were just as relevant in the ’90s, even though they disbanded in 1988. Those songs will always sound fresh and they will continue to influence new music forever. I have never been in a room where someone said they did not want to hear The Cars and there will never be a decade where people are saying this band sucked. They had a timeless sound, piles of perfect songs, the band clicked in a way that most bands can only dream of, and the production was flawless.

This weekend, we lost The Cars’ frontman, Ric Ocasek. It was a shock to those who knew him, but his death was also a sucker punch to his fans. Many of us could not believe that he was actually 70 years old, but that is still a fairly young age to die. To this writer, these are all facts that are so perfectly clear that is difficult to dig in deeper: The Cars were great, it sucks that Ric Ocasek is gone, and we will be listening to his amazing music for the rest of our lives. What follows is a very personal list of what I think about when I think about Ric Ocasek, who probably did more than anyone to bring punk to a larger audience.


This was the first song I heard from The Cars. I think it was on the radio when I was in the car with my mom on the way to grade school, which probably means I was going in late after missing the bus. It was one of those things I responded to emotionally before there was any time to think about it. I thought the name of the band was interesting, the music was so warm that I immediately let my guard down, and Benjamin Orr singing Ocasek’s lyrics really conveyed the feeling of being concerned about another person, which was not something I usually heard on the radio. I wanted to hear everything from The Cars after this.

“You Might Think”

Another single from 1984 with Ocasek on lead vocals, this is an instantly likable, essential ’80s song. Any list of great singles from this decade is incomplete without it and it has been featured in countless films, TV shows, and commercials. It’s as poppy as it is new wave and there is nothing wrong with that, “You Might Think” is a perfect song. The music video was one of the first to use computer graphics and it won the first MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. Any reference to ’80s films cues the first few seconds of this song in my mind.

“Moving in Stereo”

This is another perfect, really badass song. We have all loved it for so long that it doesn’t even sound weird to us anymore, even though it’s as experimental as anything Brian Eno did with Roxy Music. And I would be remiss here, folks, if I did not mention that it is the soundtrack to what is probably the most rewinded scene in the history of films on VHS.

“My Best Friend’s Girl”

Another perfect song, it starts with a guitar riff and handclaps that are ridiculously influential. A great track to sing along to with amazing production, it will be making new teenage fans forever because of its subject matter.

“Just What I Needed”

This is the first single from The Cars’ first album, it is over forty years old, we have all heard it a million times, but it is still shocking how great it is. It is very difficult to imagine anything that could even remotely be considered emo existing without this song. Weezer had Ocasek produce their first album for a reason, folks.